An update from Sherburne County and Palmer Wireless…
The Sherburne County Board of Commissioners Sept. 12 approved a loan to facilitate the expansion of broadband service to 16 businesses and underserved residents in the St. Cloud area.
The agreement is a partnership between the county, Palmer Wireless and the State Department of Employment and Economic Development. It will be the second project in which those partners have cooperated to extend 1Gbps fiber to businesses and residential customers in Sherburne County.
The previous project focused on the area around the Big Lake Industrial Park and extended broadband to more than 20 businesses in and around the park. It also provided service to allow the Big Lake Police Department to more quickly upload its body camera footage from cameras to state databases.
Palmer Wireless is committed to delivering broadband solutions to communities in Central Minnesota, said Laura Kangas, who co-owns Palmer Wireless with her husband, Albert.
“Although our wireless solutions fill a critical need for many of our homes and businesses, Fiber To The Home and Business is the most future-proof solution to a path of 1 Gbps connectivity, however it is also the most costly,” she said. “We are grateful to Sherburne County in seeing this need for better broadband and working with us to deliver a fiber solution to our communities through a very affordable loan solution to compliment the State of Minnesota Border to Border grant award.”
Palmer Wireless’ own investment, along with the state grant and the county loan, will allow these projects to be built and to be sustainable, she said.
“That enables our communities to have state-of-the-art affordable broadband solutions to help them thrive now and into the future,” Laura Kangas said.
“Easy access to reliable, cost effective internet services has become a facilitator of economic growth and we are thrilled to partner with Palmer Wireless and the State of Minnesota to bring improved fiber infrastructure to county residents,” said Dan Weber, assistant county administrator.
The County and Palmer Wireless are partnering once again to apply for two additional Border to Border Broadband grants in 2017 that would serve property owners in both Clear Lake and Becker townships. Grant awardees are scheduled to be announced later this year.
Project cost: $460,000
County contributes: $102,250 in existing economic development funds
Palmer Wireless contributes: $178,350
State Border to Border grant (DEED) contributes: $179,400
Palmer Wireless receives an interest-free loan from the county that they begin to pay back in year three, and finish repaying in year nine.
Big Lake Industrial Park Project Details
County contributes: $35,000 in existing economic development funds
Palmer Wireless contributes: $85,612
State Border to Border grant (DEED) contributes: $90,988
The county receives 100 Mbps service at the 10 Mbps rate at the Palmer Town Hall sheriff’s office location for the first seven years of the agreement. After that, Palmer Wireless will make a monthly payment to the county, paying off the loan in year 11.