Sen Klobuchar team talks to Mankato about broadband, housing, transportation and childcare (video included)

There were about 30 people in the Blue Earth County Courthouse room on Dec 17. Lots of community leaders and techies. The conversation extends beyond broadband. I only took notes on the broadband portions – but they also discussed housing, transportation and childcare.

Intro on broadband from Chuck Ackman from Klobuchar’s Office:

Broadband was infrastructure (historically) until the Senator realized it’s a rural issue.

Recent federal happening:

  • Broadband Deployment data (mapping) introduced in July
  • Measuring economic impact of broadband introduced in June
  • Integrity Act (share info) with other government departments
  • Establish Precision Ag Task Force (met for first time last month)

We’re looking for ways to do more with information. The Office of Broadband Development does a good job with that but not every state has an OBD.

Notes from participants:

Brent Christensen:

Hosted the FCC Chair in Madelia last year. Sen Klobuchar has been awesome on this issue. It’s great to see the MN Model go national. Thanks for help with FCC with transition from USF to CAF. The State Broadband Grant program has captured the attention in other states. We have done mapping in MN since 2008. They aren’t perfect, but we tweak them. Our goal is to get border to border broadband – we work with communities on creative solutions. We have several counties with border to border access now – when the community works with their local providers.

We have worked to connect the state grants and federal dollars ($66 million a year comes into the state from fed), which means we use federal funding for broadband as speeds that Minnesota impacts, which means better than would otherwise happen.

We need help with MNDOT – faster permitting would be helpful.

Colleen Landkamer:

It’s expansive to build broadband. Lake County got $66 million to build broadband it came from USDA. So we’d like to see continued funding through the UDSA

Jim Beattie:

The grant program has leveraged private and local public money too. There’s always a partner. We have received 6 grants; waiting to hear on the 2019 awards. There’s $20 million available with $70 million in requests. It has been funded for two years, which is very helpful for planning.

We will see a rapid expansion of broadband – despite short construction season and weather.

I think we’ll get to border to border broadband in 9 years.

Here are notes prior to the meeting. So this is the aspirational list of attendees and topics – but sometimes the planned conversation is at least as important as the actual conversation.

  • Participants:
    • Serge Phillips, Minnesota Department of Transportation
    • Minnesota Association of Counties Representative (T)
    • County Government Representative (Administrator, Public Works, Economic Development, HRA, etc.) (County Commissioners, County Administration, IT Director, Public Works/County Engineer, Human Services Director, CVSO, and HRA representative)
    • Nancy Bokelman, Housing Coordinator, City of Mankato
    • Kristin Prososki, Associate Director of Housing and Economic Development, City of Mankato
    • President, Greater Mankato Growth
    • Chad Adams, CEO, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership
    • Ann Treacy, Blandin Foundation
    • Brent Christensen, President & CEO, Minnesota Telecom Alliance
    • Jim Beattie, Director of Government Relations & General Counsel, BEVCOMM
    • Mary Ehmke, President, KMTelecom
    • Representative from Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition (T)

Proposed Meeting Format: (one hour roundtable discussion)

  • Welcome from staff/ acknowledgements of VIP attendees (3 min)
  • Video message from Sen. Klobuchar (5 min)
  • DC Policy Update (10 min)
  • Roundtable Discussion with Participants (35 min)
  • Wrap-up by staff (1 min)

Legislative efforts:

Transportation

  • FAST Act
  • BUILD, INFRA, and CIG Grant Programs
  • Comprehensive Infrastructure Package
  • BRIDGE Act

Housing

  • Section 4. Program Increased Funding
  • Section 8. Program
  • HOME Program
  • LIHTC
  • Community Development Block Grants
  • Housing Choice Voucher Program

Broadband

  • Office for Rural Broadband Act
  • Broadband Mapping Act
  • Broadband Interagency Coordination Act
  • Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act
  • Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act

Childcare

  • Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act
  • Child Care for Working Families Act
  • Child Care and Development Block Grant
  • 2018 Head Start Funding increase
  • Head Start for School Readiness Act

Klobuchar Staff Participants:

  • Rommel Lee, Outreach Team
  • Kurt Johnson, Outreach Team
  • Chuck Ackman, Outreach Team
This entry was posted in Conferences, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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