Kandiyohi County is poising to use American Rescue Plan funding for broadband

West Central Tribune reports…

Kandiyohi County is gearing up to complete broadband projects in the county, with the hope it will be able to use money from the American Rescue Plan to help fund those projects.

The County Commissioners are poising to take advantage of any opportunity…

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package enacted by the federal government in March, the county could find itself with an influx of federal funding, an estimated $8.38 million, which early guidance says can be used for broadband projects.

The County Board work session was scheduled Tuesday to make sure the commissioners were up to date on county broadband challenges and opportunities.

“So when we get the federal American Rescue dollars, hopefully we can use some of those dollars for broadband, we can hit the ground running,” Kleindl said. “We want to be ready. Today we are at the starting blocks. We are putting our foot on the race and we are going to kick it off.”

They are already working…

Officials are now working on a new project with Federated Telephone Cooperative, to bring high-speed broadband access to Arctander, Dovre, Mamre and St. Johns townships. The project is estimated to cost between $6,818,656 and $7,626,906 depending on the size of the service area to be included in the new project. The plan would provide broadband to nearly 600 properties.

The county has already approved a $25,000 grant to each of the townships for broadband expansion and Federated has said it will provide 25 percent of the project costs. All four of the townships are also on board, estimating to pay around $1,945,597 in total.

“Everybody will need to have some skin in the game,” said Commissioner Corky Berg.

The EDC is also applying for a state Border-to-Border broadband grant for about 50 percent of the project costs. Without the state grant, which is very competitive, the project will not be possible, Schmoll said.

They are asking residents to take the speed test to help the State recognize the need…

We know how important it is to get broadband out. We need citizens’help to do that,” Kleindl said.

This could mean writing letters to legislators, providing letters of support to the EDC and participating in the state internet speed test. In 2020, residents were urged to take the speed test. And while some did, more is needed.

“It is important for us to know where the underserved, unserved people are,” Kleindl said. “Do your part.”

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