Kandiyohi County moving to better broadband with funding for feasibility study

Kandiyohi County is looking to invest in better broadband in the area, starting with a feasibility study, as reported by the West Central Tribune

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners gave its backing Tuesday to a proposed grant application for a broadband feasibility study.

Board members voted unanimously to contribute up to $25,000 in matching funds for the Blandin Foundation grant application.

They still need to apply to Blandin for rest of the funds, but it’s a strong show of support and they are hoping it will help them prepare to serve the entire county…

The study will lead to a business plan that organizers hope will strengthen Kandiyohi County’s chances of receiving state funding at some future point.

When money becomes available through the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, the county will be “ready to act,” Kleindl said.

Access to broadband has become a hot-button issue both statewide and nationally. Increasingly, it marks the divide between the digital haves and have-nots and the ability to prosper and grow economically.

Although the urban portions of Kandiyohi County, mainly the cities of Willmar, New London and Spicer, have adequate broadband access, the rural areas remain underserved or not served at all, said Dean Bouta, chairman of the broadband committee of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

They also have the support of local legislator Representative Dave Baker

Broadband helps businesses connect with vendors and customers in other time zones, boosting sales and helping them compete.

Perhaps most importantly, broadband means more opportunities for families. Instead of having to move to the metro or another city for a job opportunity, someone from Kandiyohi County can telecommute to a job here in Minnesota or another state or country altogether.

I want families, schools, and businesses to have all these opportunities and more — that’s why I’m so passionate about broadband and glad to see the Kandiyohi County Board taking this important step forward.

This is a complex issue that involves many moving pieces; state and federal funding, partnerships and investments from private companies, as well as homeowners and businesses. This study will help us identify areas of opportunity so we can be ready at a moment’s notice to apply for available funding and act quickly to seize opportunities to connect Kandiyohi County.

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