Blandin Broadband Communities Update Chisago County: ABC contender

This afternoon we visited with Chicago County to hear about their projects. Chisago is in a unique position. Parallel with their participation in the BBC community, Chisago has been working on the America’s Best Community competition. They are one of eight communities left in a dwindling competition for $1-3 million!!


They have been working getting better broadband, getting people to use better broadband and promoting themselves – for their tech savviness and the gorgeous area.

Business training events

  • 11 types of classes
  • 3 social media breakfasts
  • We had 300 attendees

Putting local shops on Google Places

  • 250+ online shops verified on Google
  • 100+ within the Chisago Lakes district – including the local schools!
  • Businesses have had successes
  • It takes about 5 minutes to get a business verified.
  • The Google Get Your Business Online – is a good program for other communities.

Old Highway 61

A website for tourists  – includes a map of 500 local businesses

We have a media to help people find the website.

Free for businesses to be listed; $25 for an enhanced listing

Chisago Lakes Area tourism website

Includes an interactive calendar

Includes info on local shops, restaurants and accommodations

PCs for People Event

Worked with 3 local nonprofits and Pine Technical College

Staged at North Branch Library

WiFi on Buses

Sometimes kids are on a bus 45 minute to an hour (each way). Many are happy to work on the bus and plenty do not have access at home.

Also very popular on activity buses.

The hotspots ae actually mobile so people can use them in different settings too.

About 3 percent out of students do not have internet access at home.

They have 2 level of filtering as required. There’s filtering on the devices and the network.

Helping Local Businesses with Websites

Got  consultant involved to talk to local businesses. Worked with the local chambers. The directors were very enthusiastic. But the crowds weren’t great. Turns out the Chamber Boards weren’t enthusiastic because they aren’t using Google.

Because the classes weren’t well attended, we got a consultant to go door to door to the businesses. We budgeted about 2 hours per business, which really wasn’t enough but people have been very happy. One resort found that 10% of the summer traffic could be attributed to the works that had been done.

Downtown Area

It may not make business sense for a broadband provider to come into our area – but broadband is a critical for our local businesses. We need to be able to accept credit cards. We need to be “foundable” on a smartphone. People come here for vacations. Taylors Falls is the top day trip destination in Minnesota. We get their business while they are here we need to be online.

Broadband in the Community

The robotics coach got a good rep to the area by having broadband in the park. We need to attract younger people here and broadband can help.

Teleconferencing Equipment

IN two places in the community. Folks can do a range of training – such as that provided by the SBA

Broadband Survey & Broadband Summit

It provide goo info and got people engage (I did a post on the Summit when it happened.)

Projects that (may) have stemmed from the BBC program

Submitted a Border to Border Broadband Grant for Sunrise Township (Did a post on that too.)

ABC (America’s Best Community) project – they are on the short list to potential win between $1-3 million. They have been focusing on four areas including broadband.


This entry was posted in bbc, Blandin Foundation, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

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

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