Broadband a hot topic at Aitkin County Legislative Lunch

The Aitkin Age reports on five of the panel questions; two related to broadband…

  1. As you spend time with representatives from around Minnesotaand other states and listen to their ideas and bills, what three things would help Aitkin residents succeed and make Minnesota the place to work?
  • Regional Outreach Director Ida Rukavina of Klobuchar’s office said broadband, education, skills and workforce training, and infrastructure would help residents succeed.
  • Lueck said technical education at the high school level, broadband, and development of natural resources such as timber, mining and tourist industries would drive jobs in the area.
  • Smith’s staffer Hannah Aldrich said broadband, transportation and housing.
  • Louis Crombie, field representative for Stauber, said the Enbridge pipeline would bring high-quality jobs and tax revenue to the area, and spoke of the importance of educating people to get into high-quality and high-paying careers.
  • Ruud said workforce housing, specifically for manufacturing and health care jobs.

And

  1. Mille Lacs Energy was recently awarded funding for a broadband grant at the federal level for two townships in Aitkin County. What would widespread high-speed internet do for the communities in Aitkin County? Do you feel enough is being done in broadband?
  • Rukavina said not enough is being done because there is a gap between rural and metro. According to her, broadband allows children to succeed in school and do their homework, and affects seniors, and Realtors say broadband access is a dealbreaker when selling homes.
  • Lueck said the two-year budget has $4 million [it’s actually $40M] allocated toward broadband, which is more than in years past.
  • Aldrich said Smith’s office is pushing for change to the 2017 tax. Providers had an opportunity to apply for federal emergency funding following storms last season, but this may put many cooperatives tax exempt status at risk if awarded.
  • Ruud thanked federal partners in helping address the broadband issue in rural areas.
This entry was posted in MN, Policy 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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