The Lincoln County Board gave a green light Tuesday to a county-wide grant application aimed at funding for broadband Internet access.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners approved a grant application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for a total of $10.5 million. All except $2 million would come from outside funding sources. The county would issue bonds for its matching share.
The grant package will expand upon a plan for a broadband proposal developed by a South Dakota based consultant for the Hendricks area telecommunications exchange. The same consultant will incorporate the rest of the county into a larger grant request.
“It made sense to work together toward one application,” said Vince Robinson, president of the Ivanhoe-based Development Services Inc. consulting service. “That will show that as a county we’re taking a unified approach. We won’t be in a situation where two different applications would compete.”
The total grant amount will be influenced by the level of statewide competition for broadband funding. It will also depend on how much the Minnesota State Legislature allocates.
Robinson said the Minnesota House and Gov. Tim Walz have both offered a funding proposal of $70 million spread out over two years. The Minnesota Senate has countered with a proposal for $30 million in the first year of the biennium, with the possibility of more funding in the second year.