The Grand Rapids Herald Review reports…
Itasca Economic Development Corporation’s Teri Heikkila joined more than 150 broadband leaders from across rural Minnesota last month to compare approaches to expanding access to, and use of, high-speed Internet. The Border to Border Broadband: Bridging the Gaps – Expanding the Impact conference, co-hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, highlighted the many ways broadband is creating new opportunities for rural communities.
Research unveiled at the conference found that Itasca County could see more than $18 million in economic benefits over 15 years if broadband access and use improved. Tech expert Robert Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, produced profiles of all Minnesota counties using his Digital Divide Index. Itasca County placed 19th as compared to Minnesota’s 86 other counties in potential benefits.
As leaders in rural broadband work, Heikkila and Itasca County were central to the conference sharing and learning. A past Blandin Broadband Community, Itasca County leaders have invested in projects such as one-on-one technology assessments and training for local businesses, monthly social media breakfasts, and an IT networking group.