Assessment of Blandin Community Broadband Program: Ely

Every year, the Blandin Foundation does an assessment of how the Blandin Broadband Communities projects. Here’s the update from Ely …

Ely completed a variety of projects during the first round of IRBC work, including: a feasibility study of better connectivity throughout the school district; opening of a thriving coworking space, ”Ten Below”; creation of a showcase regional marketing website, the Elyite; support to local businesses and entrepreneurs through technology and social media consulting, training, and meetups; and a broadband use and business development survey to support community efforts to recruit better broadband services.
The second round of projects developed by the Ely BBC team leverage the power of the
internet as an engine of economic development and quality of life. They include creating a complete Google Local Listings on behalf of all businesses in Ely, which will make those businesses more visible online. Ten Below coworking space will facilitate free professional development “skillshares” workshops for local business owners on leveraging the power of the internet and social media to drive engagement and sales year-round, which were ultimately delivered via Zoom.
Hak Ely will utilize the event-marketing and scheduling platform to allow
organizations to input their own events into a shared marketing platform. Proximity marketing is another fun way to engage park visitors and generate greater awareness about scheduled events and activities; Bluetooth enabled beacons will push notifications to visitors’ devices. A video series will further engage residents, visitors, and potential visitors by highlighting stories of the unique characters found within the community.
The Ely team considers Ten Below a successful pilot. As of March of 2020, they had 77 members and were looking into larger spaces. However, as a non-essential service, they were forced to close just as the need intensified. Once the COVID situation improves, they hope to start up again.
The arts are a major asset in Ely, and another project will create an internet based directory that will link artists, art consumers, and materials providers in an easy-to-access and maintain website.

Looking at what’s been going on: Treehouse broadband, our downtown fiber loop with our feasibility study done by Design Nine, the funding made available through IRRRB, all of these things are coming together and I think we’ll be way farther ahead at the end of this than we would ever would have been without this help from Blandin, and being a Blandin Broadband Community. On behalf of the council and the city I thank you guys for the assistance you gave us. We’re going to keep forging ahead and with the help of Eva and Richard and the rest of our team there is going to be a lot of exciting things, I can guarantee, that are going to come out of this.
– Harold Langowski, Ely City Administrator

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