Solving regional issues: The next step in advancing broadband in northeastern Minnesota from IRRR

From the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Ranger…

Blandin Foundation and Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation are continuing their broadband partnership in a new initiative called Arrowhead Intelligent Communities. The initiative is designed to bring the Iron Range Broadband Communities (IRBC) program to regional scale.

Over the past four years, 10 local communities have participated in IRBC which gave them access to technical expertise, planning assistance and an opportunity to obtain financial resources to implement their broadband initiatives. IRBC resulted in 122 broadband projects in those communities such as laptops in ambulances that link to emergency rooms, WiFi on school buses, public hotspots, iPads for fire departments, and technology in seniors’ homes allowing them to age-in-place. Over 500 families received refurbished computers and connectivity, over 1,200 people were engaged, and new broadband champions and community leaders were developed.

Arrowhead Intelligent Communities will continue the broadband momentum and engage all communities in northeastern Minnesota. The first stage of the process is “benchmarking” which will compare our region to more than 400 others around the world. All communities, cities, towns, townships, counties and tribal nations in the seven county Arrowhead region are encouraged to complete their own benchmarking by using the questionnaire found on the Intelligent Community website. (Note: The scale of a community may vary. For example, it may be a single city such as Ely or Grand Rapids, or it may be a group of communities such as East Range.) Questionnaires must be completed by Jan. 11. Click here for the questionnaire.

Each local community that submits a questionnaire will receive a complimentary “snapshot” report of their global standing. All community submittals will be incorporated into the regional analysis that will be presented at a regional online summit in February. Continuing in February and into March, there will be a six-webinar series detailing the Intelligent Community method and global best practices gathered from 20 years of working with leading communities around the world.

Local communities interested in submitting a questionnaire must notify Bill Coleman. Email Bill or call him at 651-491-2551. He is also available for questions or additional information.

“Our agency is committed to continuing our partnership with Blandin and working together to bring high speed reliable broadband to every acre and corner of northeastern Minnesota,” said Commissioner Mark Phillips, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. “Fast, reliable and affordable broadband access in northeastern Minnesota is an economic and public safety necessity, not a luxury. Our health care systems, families, workers, businesses and senior citizens are using it like never before, especially during the recent months of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This entry was posted in MN, Opportunities by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

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

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