Minnesota Awards $11 Million for Broadband Projects
~Lt. Governor Smith, DEED announce funding for 15 projects in Greater Minnesota~
ST. PAUL – Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) today announced that $11 million in grants have been awarded for projects to expand broadband access in 15 Greater Minnesota communities. Lt. Governor Smith made the announcement at the Blandin Foundation’s “Border to Border Broadband: Better Together” Conference.
“We need border-to-border broadband Internet access to build an economy that works for all Minnesotans,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Broadband Internet access isn’t just nice, it’s necessary for Minnesota businesses to grow and our students to thrive. While these grants are a good start, significant need remains.”
This broadband funding was awarded under DEED’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, which Governor Mark Dayton signed into law in May 2014. This year, DEED received 44 applications for funding, totaling more than $29 million in requests. Recipients were selected based on an internal review and scoring process.
The latest round of broadband grants will improve access to high-speed broadband for 3,222 households, 786 businesses and nearly 90 community institutions throughout the state.
“By gaining access to broadband, these rural communities will increase economic development, improve living standards and enhance education and public services,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “While we are pleased to assist in the development of these projects, there are many other communities waiting to receive access to high speed Internet and additional resources urgently needed.”
Now in its second year, the program’s first round of funding awarded $19.4 million to 17 Greater Minnesota communities in February of this year.
The following is a list of the 15 recipients awarded funding in 2015:
BEVCOMM Cannon Valley Telecom, Rural Freeborn Fiber-to-the-Premises Project, $149,625
The project will build out broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet service to 43 households and one business in rural Freeborn in south-central Minnesota’s Freeborn County. Total project costs are $393,750. BEVCOMM will cover the remaining $244,125 (62 percent local match).
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will support various home-based businesses, stimulate economic growth, and encourage innovation and investment. Education, health care, energy efficiency and public safety will improve with high-speed Internet access. The greatest economic development potential of the project will be in crop and livestock production, including advancement in bin monitoring systems, livestock feed and environment monitoring, security, video surveillance and energy management.
BEVCOMM Blue Earth Valley Telephone, Rural Winnebago Fiber-to-the-Premises Project, $142,690
The project will provide high-speed Internet service to 30 unserved households and farms in rural Winnebago in Faribault County in south-central Minnesota. Total project costs are $375,500. BEVCOMM will cover the remaining $232,810 (62 percent local match).
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will stimulate home-based businesses, economic growth, and innovation and investment. Education, health care, energy efficiency and public safety will improve with high-speed Internet access. The greatest economic development potential will be in local crop and livestock production. Broadband investments will enable area farmers to access applications and tools to make their operations more efficient and enhance their crop production. A second benefit will be better health care, especially in emergency situations. First responders, paramedics and rural doctors will be able to share medical information and start vital treatment to a patient while an ambulance is en route to the hospital.
Consolidated Telecommunications Co., Fort Ripley Phase II, $759,525
Broadband infrastructure will be built out in the Fort Ripley area to provide service to 272 households. Total project costs are $1.6 million. The remaining $839,475 (52 percent local match) will be provided by Consolidated Telecommunications and regional and local development agencies.
Community and Economic Development Impact: A survey concluded that more than 83 percent of respondents in the area would benefit from telecommuting, an option currently unavailable. In addition, the project will enable home-based businesses to develop and expand.
Federated Telephone Cooperative, Swift County FTTP 2015, $4.95 million
The project will deliver high-speed Internet service to 600 households, 425 businesses and 75 community institutions. The project area includes De Graff, Swift Falls and rural parts of eastern Swift County. The project touches 13 of the county’s 21 townships. Total project costs are $12.5 million. The remaining $7.5 million (60 percent local match) will be covered by a loan from Swift County to Federated.
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will help support job creation and economic prosperity throughout the county. More than 500 jobs are expected to be created over the next few years, related to farming, home-based startups, commercial expansions and more. Nearly half of the county’s 800 farms are in the project area.
Halstad Telephone Co., Gentilly Township, $424,460
Halstad Telephone Co. will build out infrastructure in Gentilly Township in Polk County to provide high-speed Internet to 114 households, 20 businesses and one community anchor institution. Total project costs are $931,000. The remaining $504,540 (54 percent local match) will be provided by Halstad Telephone Co.
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will enable more effective agricultural management and teleworking opportunities.
Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Whitewater area in Winona County, $247,000
Hiawatha will partner with Winona County to build out broadband infrastructure in Elba and Norton townships, including Whitewater State Park. The project will provide improved Internet services to 418 customers, including 135 households, 70 businesses and five community anchor institutions. Total project costs are $773,320. The remaining $526,000 (68 percent local match) will be provided by Hiawatha and Winona County.
Community and Economic Development Impact: This area contains Whitewater State Park (which attracts 300,000 visitors annually), Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, Crystal Springs Fish Hatchery, 75 farms, 32 businesses, a school and numerous public institutions. The project will improve business and economic opportunities, education, health care and public safety.
Midcontinent Little Fork Middle Mile, $277,448
Midcontinent will build out broadband middle-mile infrastructure between Little Fork and International Falls. The project will provide high-speed service to 258 Internet users. Total project costs are $584,100. The remaining $306,652 (52 percent local match) will be provided by Midcontinent.
Community and Economic Development Impact: The community will benefit from increased speed, capacity and reliability of Internet services.
MVTV Wireless Middle Mile, Southwestern Minnesota, $808,080
This project will improve services to 6,000 households and businesses that are MVTV customers in 20 southwestern Minnesota counties, with leverage possibilities for another 29,000 customers. The counties are Blue Earth, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Rock, Redwood, Renville, Sibley, Swift, Watonwan and Yellow Medicine. Total project costs are $1.85 million. MVTV will cover the remaining $1.04 million (56 percent local match).
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will improve broadband access and speeds for more than 3,000 farm-related businesses and 6,000 rural residents across nearly 30,000 square miles.
New Ulm Telecom, Goodhue Fiber Project, $115,934
New Ulm Telecom will build out middle- and last-mile infrastructure in Goodhue Township near the city of Goodhue to provide service to 24 households, businesses and community institutions. Total project costs are $244,073. New Ulm Telecom will cover the remaining $128,139 (53 percent local match).
Community and Economic Development Impact: Nearly all of the broadband service in this project area is for farms, home-based businesses or telecommuting. Without this investment, many residents might be forced to shut down businesses, move or find alternative educational opportunities.
Otter Tail Telcom Fergus Falls 864, Highway 59, $295,432
Otter Tail Telcom will extend its existing fiber cable at the north edge of Fergus Falls to serve 56 households, seven businesses and one cell tower. Total project costs are $621,962. Otter Tail Telcom will provide the remaining $326,530 (52 percent local match).
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will improve broadband service for several existing businesses and work-from-home residents. In addition, it will add value and create potential shovel-ready status for a new industrial park.
Otter Tail Telcom, Highway 59/94, $164,207
Otter Tail Telcom will build out middle-mile broadband infrastructure north of Fergus Falls, near the Highway 59/94 intersection, to provide high-speed Internet service to 21 households and multiple community institutions. Areas north and south of Elizabeth are included. Total project costs are $345,699. The remaining $182,437 (53 percent local match) will be provided by Otter Tail Telcom.
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will provide increased connectivity to the Fargo/Moorhead area and redundancy for the Minneapolis middle-mile facilities. All customers served by Park Region Telephone Co., Otter Tail Telcom and other neighboring telecoms will benefit from the added connectivity. Remote clinics and hospitals associated with Sanford Health will have a seamless data flow of records, x-rays, scans and other medical information. Schools and libraries in the region also will benefit.
Paul Bunyan Central Itasca County Fiber, $1.98 million
Broadband infrastructure will be built out in Itasca County in portions of Balsam, Lawrence and Nashwauk townships and the former Iron Range Township that is now located within the city of Taconite. High-speed Internet service will be available to 1,193 households, 53 businesses and five community anchor institutions. Total project costs are $5.52 million. The remaining $3.54 million (64 percent local match) will be provided by Paul Bunyan Communications, Itasca County and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
Community and Economic Development Impact: The area is home to an estimated 3,500 people and about 100 small businesses. The project will open up new markets, provide new options for training and education of employees, increase opportunities for sales and marketing, and deliver additional business-related resources. In addition, it will improve the region’s viability and attractiveness to telecommuters, freelancers and others who depend on technology and the Internet for work. Health care services also will improve.
Runestone Telephone Association, Holmes City, $189,990
The project will provide high-speed broadband service to 93 households, 14 businesses and one community anchor institution in Holmes City in Douglas County. Total project costs are $428,060. Runestone will provide the remaining $238,070 (56 percent local match).
Community and Economic Development Impact: In addition to bricks and mortar businesses, numerous home-based businesses and telecommuters will have improved services. Thirty-two local children who are either home schooled or attend school in Alexandria also will benefit. Many of them cannot complete daily assignments, participate in team projects, or conduct research necessary for papers and reports.
West Central Telephone Association, Highway 71 Wadena North Expansion Project, $193,515
The project will provide high-speed broadband service to 162 households, 43 businesses and three community anchor institutions. Project costs are $2.12 million. The remaining $1.93 million (91 percent local match) will be provided by the West Central Telephone Association and by local and regional organizations.
Community and Economic Development Impact: The project will help struggling small businesses, provide tele-health services to assist seniors, address a shortage of mental health workers, and provide online education and other learning opportunities.
Winona County Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Cedar Valley Area, $314,450
Broadband infrastructure will be built in and around the Winona County communities of Witoka, and Wilson, affecting 256 households, 117 businesses and three community anchor institutions. Total project costs are $973,000. The remaining $658,550 (68 percent local match) will be provided by Winona County and Hiawatha Broadband Communications.
Community and Economic Development Impact: Entities that will benefit from local broadband access include trucking firms, 90 farms, nine commercial and industrial businesses, 18 home-based businesses, a school and numerous public institutions.
DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at the DEED website (http://mn.gov/deed) or go to our Twitter account (http://twitter.com/mndeed).