Northeast MN is a recruitment hot spot with beauty and broadband (Cook County)

The Minneapolis Star Tribune highlights what many new Cook County residents are loving about their new homes in the area; it’s a remote hop away from coronavirus and they have broadband…

But the dealmaker for many who have recently trekked to the area questing for property or simply vacationing is the availability of high-speed internet. Snaking invisibly beneath and among Cook County’s pre-Cambrian bedrock is a byzantine labyrinth of fiber-optic cable that has transformed most of its 2.1 million acres into a modern-day “Zoom town” — not unlike the nation’s boom towns of yesteryear.

Except that boom towns were built on the perceived presence of gold or other riches, whereas Zoom towns trade in a different kind of treasure: The chance for residents to live in remote and oftentimes beautiful nature-rich locations while earning paychecks from distant and oftentimes less beautiful and less nature-rich urban-based employers.

With a click of a mouse, Zoom-towners also can kibitz with their far-flung kids, watch movies on Netflix and order two-day delivery from Amazon.

“We needed good phone and internet so I could keep working,” Kregness said. “We found both in a year-round home on a lake 37 miles up the trail from Grand Marais.”

The local electric co-op, aided by community activists, is credited with leveraging a federal grant a dozen years ago to connect Cook County homes, cabins and businesses for free with high-speed internet, provided they were on the electric grid.

“With all the rock we have up here it wasn’t easy, but we built out the entire system in five years,” said John Twiest, chief executive and general manager of Arrowhead Electric Cooperative. “People want to work from their homes or cabins, and resorts up the Gunflint were competing for customers and using up their satellite data in a hurry. If you don’t have broadband, you’re at a technological disadvantage.”

This entry was posted in economic development, MN and tagged 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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