Broadband efforts in Hibbing – helping businesses and students better use technology

This month I am traveling with the Blandin crew to visit various Iron Range Broadband Communities – communities that have been making a concerted effort to improve broadband access in their area. The last stop was Hibbing. They are working with a lot of businesses and getting kids interested in tech-focused jobs.

Here are full notes on their various projects:

We work on trying to get the word out to get more people to join the broadband team. There have been several articles in the local newspaper.

Library hotspots
We were able to do the project for under $5000. Worked with PCs for People and are working with the library to get the hotspots into the library rotation.
Because they came in under budget they are able to add connectivity to the Memorial Building. With the current provider they have been down for up to a week – which means they can’t get work done. They have STEM programs, community center, museum…

Digital Marketing
Worked with 7 businesses to help them make better use online marketing.
It went well.
Andy’s Auto Sales – got great lessons from Molly and has continued to post on a regular basis. He started with 30 fans, now has more than 600. He might actual purchase a location now. He has seen a bump in sales.
Pink Tie Design – learned to use social media in her work and can now pass it onto her clients. Helped correct whois info. Her new website will launch April 1.

Technology Career Fair Day
Had about 100 students (grades 9-12)
Four sectors of industry were represented and kids got to visit with each to learn more about career options. We had lunch and t-shirts.
Post survey responses were good.
It was great for kids who have an interest in technology (or a latent interest).
We worked through teachers but you really need to get on their calendar early to make it happen.
Lessons were learned doing this the first time – like starting early and understanding school/college reimbursement procedures. And the pilot was a good chance for teachers, students and counselors to learn more about the opportunity.

Round 2 Digital Marketing
Worked with more businesses – both new and old (Alumni) businesses.
They are mid-process and it sounds like everyone it moving forward.
A challenge this time has been working with businesses that are less engaged than the original 7.

Marketing Seminars
Looking for an venue
Topics include – SEO, Content Management and Social Media
Looking at 8:30 to noon – with time to network beforehand and continue working through lunch

PCs for People – round 2
Sent letters to 250 people about PCs for People through Access North (centers for independent living). Heard back from (and pre-qualified) 50 people. And have provided training to 41 of the people. The trainer is a service vet with a disability.
Distribution event is Monday (Jan 29).
Some will be home distribution – especially for folks with mobility disabilities.
There is interest in continued training.
Got a special deal on printers too!

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