Two projects in Rice County get MN State grants – RDOF impact in other areas may have helped them

Faribault Daily News reports…

Two crucial rural broadband projects backed by the Rice County Board of Commissioners were among those funded last week through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Border to Border broadband grant program.

More details on the projects…

The larger of two local projects funded is spearheaded by Nuvera, a Prior Lake-based service provider. It will serve 103 unserved and 178 underserved locations in Wheatland and Webster townships in Rice County, as well as portions of Dakota and Scott counties.

One hundred and six of those homes will be in Rice County, which extended $200,000 in CARES Act dollars to the project in October. In total, the $1.2 million project will be funded about on third by DEED and two thirds by local match dollars.

Blue Earth-based service provider BEVCOMM received a bit over $200,000 for its roughly $525,000 project, which will serve approximately 14 unserved and 94 underserved locations in portions of Rice, Waseca, and Steele counties. That project is backed by Rice County’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority, which extended a $15,000 zero interest loan to the company in September. In addition, the county sent a letter of support for the project to DEED.

County Administrator Sara Folsted said she was surprised to see both projects funded. While both were certainly worthy, she noted that only about half of all project applications are approved — and Rice County has often been overlooked in favor of even more “needy” areas.

They note that disqualification of other areas because of  potential RDOF awards to LTD Broadband may have helped Rice County…

As Grove noted, one factor helping projects like Rice County’s may have been that proposals covering areas already included under the federal government’s recently announced Rural Digital Opportunity Fund grants were not eligible for consideration. That’s a point of frustration for Nathan Zacharias and other members of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition. Zacharias, a lobbyist with the MRBC, noted that it could take until 2027 for some projects to pan out.

This entry was posted in Funding, MN, MN Broadband Fund Awards and tagged 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s