It was good to see local media write about the broadband meeting in St Louis County last week. The Hibbing Daily Tribune reports…
Now is a good time for communities to take the proper steps to prepare for grant applications, representatives said, especially because of the local, state and federal sources available to tap into and an Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and Blandin Foundation partnership.
“There are general fund dollars (state money) and local matching dollars this year … to grow connectivity in our area,” said Jason Metsa, deputy commissioner for the IRRRB.
An IRRRB infrastructure grant has up to $2 million dedicated for fiscal year 2020 to serve as a local match in leveraging other state and federal grants for broadband. The funds are available for unserved and underserved areas, with up to a 25% match.
St. Louis County has large areas considered unserved or underserved.
Local funding resources, which other rural parts of the state have employed, include local cash contributions, tax abatement bonds and dedication of special taxes.
Federal dollars are available through the United States Department of Agriculture ReConnect initiative and state funding from the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program.
I wrote about the meeting too so I won’t go into great detail – but it’s a reminder to all communities – act or be left behind. A lot is happening and that’s great. Some communities will be lucky enough to get grant funding – and luck favors the prepared.