MN Broadband Fund Award: A closer look around Sherburne County

Almost $20 million in state grants have gone to 17 communities in Minnesota to expand broadband and make the case to legislators (and the general public) that such investments are wise and have a valuable Return on Investment. I wanted to delve into each project a bit to help us follow the money as it gets deployed. (See other awardee posts.)

Palmer Wireless, Becker Industrial Park. Awarded $151,934 to deploy 3.4 miles of fiber passing 21 underserved businesses in the Becker Industrial Park (city of Becker) as well as to 12 vacant city-owned lots covering 70 acres. In addition, one of the vacant lots is the future site of the Northstar station. The total project costs are $303,870; the remaining $151,936 (50 percent local match) will be provided by Palmer Wireless via a line of credit.

Community and Economic Development Impact: Superfast broadband improves the performance of existing firms, enables new businesses to emerge and encourages flexible working patterns – all positives for business and workforce needs now and into the future. Improving broadband service to the industrial park was the No. 1 priority for Becker based on a local broadband survey of residents and business owners.

Sherburne County was recently named a Blandin Broadband Community (BCC) community. Here is what they have to say about their participation…

“As we filled out the Blandin Broadband Community program application it became apparent to all involved how important Broadband infrastructure is to the entire Sherburne County region. We received support from many sectors including cities, townships, school districts, private businesses and Chambers of Commerce throughout the County. We are thrilled to be partnering with the Blandin Foundation to help us connect Sherburne County,” said Dan Weber Sherburne County Economic Development Specialist.

Leading their work is the Sherburne County Broadband Coalition, a group whose goal is to enhance the quality of life for citizens through efficient use of technology. Together, with education, nonprofit and business partners throughout the county, the Broadband Coalition will rally local leaders to develop a sustainable model for broadband access and use in Sherburne County.

They have been innovative about broadband in their area – such as installing Wi-Fi in the school buses.

The St Cloud Times recently posted an article on broadband funds being deployed in the area. They are on track with finding ways to close the access gap in their area.

Just to help track progress, here are some recent stats on Sherburne County:

OBD fund graphicOn broadband (Connect MN final stats from 2014):

  • Household Density: 67
  • Number of Households: 30,212
  • Percentage serviced (without mobile): 36.97%
  • Percentage serviced (with mobile): 91.86%

Census quick facts (from 2013):

  • Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013:  $193,400
  • Per capita money income in past 12 months (2013 dollars), 2009-2013:  $28,071
  • Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013:  7.8%
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2012:  1,895
  • Private nonfarm employment, 2012:  19,651
This entry was posted in MN, MN Broadband Fund Awards by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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