Blandin on Broadband eNews: Broadband activity throughout Minnesota Monthly Recap

Oct 8-10 – MN Fall BB Conference Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work
This three-day conference at the beautiful Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN offers learning and engagement on many aspects of the challenges and benefits of broadband access and use, from “Pursuing Broadband 101,” to digital inclusion tools and strategies for diverse audiences.

Apply to be on the next MN Broadband Task Force
Applications are now being accepted for 15 open member seats of the newest iteration of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

A Better Wireless has a Solution for Rural MN
The Benton Foundation posts a column from A Better Wireless, about the need in rural areas (specifically rural Minnesota) for better broadband to create a level playing field for students.

CN QuickStart
Introducing CN QuickStart, a pre-feasibility study tool to help you understand your community broadband options.

Thriving by Design Minnesota Equity Blueprint First Release
Growth & Justice releases their first Blueprint Report on Human Capital; it reveals challenges and opportunities, along with dozens of practical solutions that will help realize Minnesota’s full human potential.

Minnesotans Winning National Tech Awards
Congrats to Casey Sorenson from PCs for People, featured in the Star Tribune for winning the 2019 Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion. And congrats to Brent Christensen, named 2019 Grassroots Advocate of the Year by NTCA.

Blandin Foundation Rural Pulse – how do Minnesotans feel?
Every three years, the Blandin Foundation does a scan of how Minnesotans are feeling about the economy, their future and more. This year they surveyed 1,560 people the results are mixed based on where you live and who you are.

MN Public Broadband Alliance Meeting
MN Public Broadband Alliance hosted a meeting on broadband with the following topics:

  • Partnerships, Where to find Partners, Structures
  • Wireless Capabilities/Hybrid Systems
  • Grant Overviews
  • Financing Options
  • Economic Development and Broadband
  • Legislative Update and Questions

On the Minnesota policy front…

And national policy front…

Local Broadband News

Blue Earth County
Blue Earth County investigates broadband with feasibility study

Crow Wing County
What do you do when the maps are wrong and you aren’t served? One man in Crow Wing County tells his story.

Timberjay suggests that relocating government jobs could significantly boost rural Minnesota economy

Lincoln County
Lincoln County launches broadband grant application

Lyon County
Lyon County promotes app to test broadband speed

Marshall, Pipestone and Worthington
Vast Broadband brings Gig access to Marshall, Pipestone and Worthington

Martin County
Much of rural Martin County has better broadband

Red Wing
Red Wing Ignite Cup holds a competition and says congrats to winner, Busy Baby

St Louis County
Better broadband comes to Side Lake in St Louis County

Twin Cities
BestBuy sells device to help telehealth patients have better remote exams

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Finally, a little nice spring weather happening in Minnesota!  It is fun to see trees budding and perennials starting to sprout.  On my little estate, it is a lot of work to clear away the debris of late fall and winter and get my gardens ready to thrive.  There is that one fleeting moment when I think that once this preparation work is complete, I can sit back all summer long, sip a beverage and just enjoy a beautiful view.  The reality is exposed not long after that gardens take tending – pulling weeds, adding some fertilizer, watering thirsty plants and deterring white tail deer.  Neglecting any of these tasks leads to even more work and/or disappointing benefits.  While some plants will do well no matter how little attention you pay to them – hostas, ferns, coneflowers – many need care and attention to prosper.

The same is true of our broadband and community vitality work.  It would be pleasant to think that once a broadband network is in the ground or on the tower that our community work is done.  There will be some businesses, teachers, local organizations and health care providers that make immediate and aggressive use of the new connectivity.  They will gather and post information online, expand their course offerings or market area, and provide a great illustration of technology opportunities.  Unfortunately, there are far too few of these folks.

Many others will greatly enjoy the higher broadband speeds but will not make significant changes without some technology Miracle Grow.  Just as it is to our benefit to water and maintain our gardens so that the tender and emergent plans grow and bloom, experience shows that the more delicate and less aggressive plants need care to reach their full potential.

Many of our broadband communities are aggressively sponsoring technology assessments for business and local organizations.  This service provides immediate benefits to the participants, from simply claiming their Google place to the more complex task of closing security vulnerabilities.  The assessment provides a plan for the user while reducing technology and financial risk and also fear of change.  Consider your local tech vendors as your Master Gardeners.  Give them an opportunity to show the skills and to market their services within your community.  If your area is short on these tech masters, search the surrounding communities and regional centers.  Entice them to visit your community, give them a platform to share their expertise and identify ways to make it worth their while to do business in your community. Or contract with staff consultants from the local SBDC.

Another gardening strategy is to split plants and share with neighbors.  By spreading your tech assessment and development work across various sectors, the benefits of your work multiply. Highlighting success stories is a great way to spread technology adoption in your community.  When one person creates a beautiful boulevard garden, others follow and the entire block becomes a showcase.  Smart community economic developers actively tend your community’s garden.  You should too.  See what grows!

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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