Regional Economic Framework Draft by Met Council includes broadband SWOT

The Metropolitan Council is the regional planning organization for the seven-county Twin Cities area. Clearly much of the ground covered is urban, but plenty of that space is rural too. They recently posted their Regional Economic Framework Draft. The document provides a nice state of the region, with a special nod to 2020 with the pandemic, shutdown and murder of George Floyd…

Developing this Framework began prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession in early 2020. It began as a collaboration between the Metropolitan Council and the Minneapolis Saint Paul Economic Development Partnership (GREATER MSP). When it became clear that the pandemic would have severe economic impacts, both organizations agreed to accelerate the process. …

The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020 created a new challenge for developing this document. The region’s economy is ordinarily resilient during economic challenges as a result of its economic diversity and institutional safety-nets. This resiliency is not shared, however, by members of our community whose jobs are vulnerable to layoffs and furloughs, and who experience racism and other forms of discrimination. Minnesota’s racial disparities are some of the worst in the nation. This reality is both an economic problem and a moral one. Attempts to address these issues in the past have had limited success. We are committed to meaningful actions that change this.

Broadband is brought up as a bullet point in the Action plan (one of 9)…

  • Increase deployment of broadband to improve digital connectivity and support telehealth and remote learning for job skills in the region. (Please see Table 8 – Broadband SWOT.)

And they added a SWOT analysis…

Strengths:

  • MN DEED Office of Broadband Development (OBD) works to improve availability through technical and financial assistance
  • Regional internet provider partnership with FCC ensures residents and businesses can stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Region has one of the lowest rates of digital poverty42
  • Minnesota is viewed as an exemplary model of a State-led broadband initiative

Weaknesses

  • Region fell to 8th among peers in broadband infrastructure capacity
  • Funding limitations to support deployment of broadband infrastructure
  • Coordination challenges between Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) and MN DEED OBD for use and management of right-of-way for conduit
  • Less return on investment and related affordability for rural areas

Opportunities

  • Increased funding for OBD’s Border to Border Grant Program.
  • “Dig Once” policies and practices for the installation of broadband infrastructure
  • Institutionalization of coordination between OBD, MNDOT, and broadband providers and utilities.
  • Emerging demand in precision agriculture, blockchain management, and telehealth
  • Implementation of State goals for availability and speed

Threats

  • Increasing digital divide with rural areas as a result of business models that emphasize return on investment
  • Reliance on private capital without municipal investment may restrain advancement

This entry was posted in 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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