Catching up with broadband projects in Ely MN: Feasibility study, digital marketing, coworking and Elyite website

Spent yesterday afternoon in Ely talking with people about their broadband projects. (It is actually cool up  here – so very nice!) They have been part of a project (IRBC) with the Blandin Foundation and IRRRB focused on increasing use of broadband in the area. I’ll include full notes below – but a couple of highlights…

  • The have made a big push with digital marketing – classes and consulting
  • Their feasibility study has raised some opportunities and options for partnership
  • They have a new website to recruit new Elyites – filled with fun videos.
  • They have a new coworking space – open only a month and they have 12 members!

Feasibility study – met with CTC after talking to them for a year and a half. Looking at doing towers for wireless. Waiting on the Joint Powers to move forward. Finished up with Design Nine on the report. They are available for any revisions. It gave us some options and ideas. We have some potential partners. Next move is to talk with NESC. Frontier has shown interest in selling us what they have – but not upgrading. They are in the loop. (In town they can provide 200/8 – but they don’t market it.) Talking to MidCo too.

It would have been nice to somehow connect with Lake Connections but that seems unlikely. But CTC seems very interested in working with us.

TenBelow has a good connection for their coworking space through CTC. They have 11 members. Some telework from there; some run a business. Some are just here for the summer; others are year round residents. We’ve done a lot of advertising and had a float in the Ely 4th of July parade. Just getting off the ground now. Coworking is new to Ely. People make their plans based on access to coworking space – so that’s a good niche. There’s room for 12 or so people at one time. There’s a room for privacy. Next step will be to work with the resorts to let potential visitors know about the space. There’s a Maker Space in Ely – the Ely Naturalists are there and they have interesting equipment from them such as microscopes.

Business survey – used SNG report as model. This will provide a baseline for business use of broadband/technology so that we can measure after the fact. It helps identify and develop champions for broadband. And now learned a lot about what businesses need anecdotally. Results will be available on Incredible Ely website. A final bonus will be a list of local businesses.

Digital Marketing Consulting – Molly Solberg worked with 7 businesses. There was an application process; 32 had applied. Arrowhead Outdoors built the business from scratch. They changed everything. The business owner then taught other businesses how to do some digital marketing. Grey Duck Bag company also had a great experience. The owner was great about doing her homework and therefore stuff got done. They now do a lot of online shopping. Ely Northland Market worked on distinguished themselves.

Marketing Classes – Classes were well attended and very specific. They worked with Art Unlimited. It got people thinking and making changes.

Elyite website – They launched a new site. It’s video heavy to attract attention. We got community members involved – even after the launch party! (They had 57 people come to the launch.) They have a fun Elyite of the month section and lots of practical resources.

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