Assessment of Blandin Community Broadband Program: Tower Economic Development Authority

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

In developing its 2025 Vision Plan, the City of Tower recognized the need for better broadband. In their application to Blandin they wrote: “Our area has been anxiously awaiting more technological growth for quite some time. To be able to entice more businesses, families, and tourism with world-class internet access would give us the edge we need to grow and sustain our local economies.”
With their unique way of life and remoteness, the City of Tower needs access to broadband to be able to promote a “work anywhere” lifestyle, retain residents and attract potential newcomers. To explore options, the Tower BBC team obtained support from local units of government to participate in a Feasibility Study project along with the East Range and Laurentian Chamber BBCs. The City also upgraded their website to improve the look and feel, and to share information about services and opportunities.
Increasing their own knowledge and educating residents about the importance of broadband was another key activity for the BBC team. They also implemented projects to install public Wi-Fi at Hoo Doo Point Campground, and at the Tower Depot and Farmer’s Market. Internet at the Farmer’s Market will allow vendors to use their mobile devices to take credit card payment, thus improving their sales while allowing visitors internet access in the public space around the Depot.
To improve the quality of tech education and training available in local schools the Tower BBC team supported projects in the two local schools:
• Tower Soudan elementary received funds for a mobile computer lab and AV equipment for their media center. The mobile lab will allow more classes to incorporate computers in teaching and learning. The community hadn’t had access to a computer lab or AV equipment previously, and this equipment will be available to them when school isn’t in session.
• Vermilion Country School (VCS) will receive support to increase and improve the use of Smartboards in classrooms and to create a computer lab. The lab will be used by VCS students and families, as an internet café for AEOA Senior Dining clients, and as a
training venue Tower Soudan Community Ed classes. VCS will also create an interactive field trip and music lab. This space will allow for increased online curriculum, and receive online music instruction, and be available for other community members
outside of school hours.

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