Montevideo American News reports on recent meetings in Granite Falls and Montevideo (Chippewa, Renville, and Yellow Medicine Counties)…
On Wednesday October 9, Senator Tina Smith hosted a roundtable discussion in Granite Falls with local leaders and rural community advocates in an attempt to get to the root of rural needs in the broadband game.
The Senator opened the meeting ” I am so thankful you ALL are here this morning, I am here to check in with you”. Smith, who introduced the Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands Act (RURAL Act) aiding cooperatives impacted by new tax codes in keeping their ability to get broadband implementation grants without affecting their tax-exempt status said, “I want to understand better how I and the federal government can be a good partner with you as we work to expand broadband in small towns and rural areas”.
Smith detailed her understanding of the negative impacts of insufficient or nonexistent broadband access “If you don’t have access to broadband you can’t get your homework done, you can’t work remotely for your job, your healthcare systems don’t work, you have trouble recruiting people into your community.” Her focus as of late is combating and correcting false data on where broadband actually exists. “We have a federal government pushing out a significant amount of money but sometimes it’s pushing out that money based on maps that are not at all accurate about where there is coverage, or there is coverage but it’s pitiful. It’s a few drops of water coming out of a pipe. It doesn’t begin to meet the needs of the community” . The Senator was quick to point out that even though Minnesota broadband coverage maps makes it appear most households are serviced “there are still 145,000 households that don’t have it, that doesn’t even count the households sitting at the end of the pipe with a few drops, not able to do what they need to do.” Participants went around the table, taking two minutes each to detail there broadband access concerns and interests.