Assessment of Blandin Community Broadband Program: Hibbing

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

The Hibbing IRBC effort was led by the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce. During the first round the team focused on projects to raise the the technology skills of local businesses and entrepreneurs. The Digital Marketing for Small Businesses project was so successful they selected an additional sixteen businesses after the initial round of seven.

The Hibbing team also prioritized digital inclusion-focused projects, including:
• Purchase of twenty mobile internet hotspots for library check-out.
• New public Wi-Fi hotspots in the community.
• One hundred refurbished computers distributed to income-qualifying families, seniors
and the disabled through PCs for People.
• Helped Hibbing Community College host a Technology Career Fair for students in grades 9-12.
Continuing with their business focus, in the second round the BBC team worked with TechTank to host for the Hibbing business community a series of free-to-attend monthly meet-ups with paid facilitators on topics such as entrepreneurship, financial management, and marketing.
Second round projects also help community anchor institutions maximize community benefits from the internet. They include:
• Helping Access North Center for Independent Living implement an aging-in-place initiative, using smart home technology to allow seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible.
• Partnering with Fairview Range to supply devices for use by Infusion Center patients, allowing access medical care records and to stay in touch with families and friends.
• Provide low-cost internet service to sixty low income apartment units at the local public
housing complex.
• Purchasing devices to connect eleven area emergency vehicles with the Fairview Range Emergency Room.

It was great to dig into [digital inclusion] more, and how it reflects on a lot of the resources, in general, that we have in our communities. Broadband is no different. The difference between true inclusion and access are very different things, and so our work has to focus on all those different pieces – and that’s why I love these mini projects is you get a bunch of different pieces in your circle, of different aspects of intelligent community. Not every project is tackling all of them, but they all help work towards a more inclusive community around broadband and technology.
– Vicki Hagberg, Hibbing Chamber of Commerce

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