I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate to say that Senator Miller acquired the funding – but it’s helpful to know that the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus is framing it that way…
Two communications and internet service providers in Fillmore County are set to receive funding for broadband expansion thanks to a new round of grants announced as part of the state’s Border to Border Broadband program.
The grants were made possible after the 2017 Minnesota legislature approved a Jobs and Economic Growth bill, authored by Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), which included $20 million for the Border to Border Broadband program.
AcenTek, in Rushford Village, will receive $2,011,628 for a major project to expand broadband access to communities that are current unserved. Mediacom, in the city of Fountain, will receive $202,125 to extend its existing service.
“Too many Minnesota communities do not have access to high speed internet service,” said Sen. Miller. “In 2017, that is unacceptable. I’m glad we were able to provide crucial funding to improve broadband access in these areas, so more Minnesotans are able to participate in our 21st Century economy.”
- AcenTek (Rushford) will serve 515 unserved or underserved households, 40 unserved or underserved businesses, and 2 underserved community anchor institutions in the Rushford Village area with fiber optic cable installation. Total eligible project cost is $5,158,020. The local match is $3,146,392.
- Mediacom (Fountain) will extend its existing hybrid fiber/coaxial network to provide service to 161 unserved households and 20 unserved businesses. Total eligible project cost is $421,094; the local match is $218,969.
I think that it is fine that Senator Miller is grabbing some credit for statewide broadband funding as he helped lead the way for the $20 million appropriation. I have more apprehension about other GOP members claiming credit for funds grants in their districts. Program critics have complained that politics drives this program’s funding decisions. Knowing the program staff, I have significant doubts about that perception.
I will say that early funding commitments in the next legislative session will provide an opportunity for rural people around the state to get their partnerships and applications in order in advance of the short program timelines that precluded many applications last fall.