CTC works with Ely and Little Falls to bring fiber to local businesses

Earlier this month, the Institute for Local Self Reliance wrote about CTC working with Long Prairie. CTC is a cooperative, they work with several Minnesota communities. Last week ILSR wrote about their work in Ely and Little Falls

Two other cities, specifically, Ely and Little Falls, have also partnered with CTC to bring fiber loops to their business districts. Both communities have faced challenges when it came to building and connecting their residents and businesses to a fiber network.

They give a great history of both locations, I’ll just grab from the CTC chapters, starting in Ely…

“[The] Little Falls [effort] was really spurred based on business retention,” Buttweiler said. “Thankfully, these businesses went to the city with this problem in advance of it being [so] critical that they had to leave, and the city recognized the urgency.”

As a result, the city of Little Falls and CTC started their partnership around 2013. The city partnered with the Initiative Foundation, Region Five Development Commission and the Morrison County Economic Development Corporation to pool together around $550,000 to lend CTC for the construction of a fiber network. CTC was already serving areas on the edge of Little Falls, and the co-op is based just 30 miles away in the Brainerd-Baxter area.

The network, which took the shape of a fiber ring, would run through downtown Little Falls and into the two main industrial parks where the majority of the city’s requests were coming from.

“It was good foresight from the people that came before me to develop this partnership because it really served a need that we had at the time and knew that we would need in the future,” Jon Radermacher, Little Falls City Administrator told us in an interview.

CTC ended up paying off the loan in seven years and now owns the network. Radermacher said the partnership just made sense.

And in Little Falls…

One of the big reasons communities take on these projects is because it can help stimulate the local economy through jobs and the taxes these businesses pay that help support new projects.

Airborn ended up being one of the businesses that Little Falls and CTC connected to the network. Though it cost $60,000 to connect Airborn, once it was that day-long upload speed turned into a minute.

“The value of that $60,000 was paid back pretty quickly and that firm that we connected said ‘We feel that we need to support this,’ so they ended up contributing $10,000 to the project,” Radermacher said.

Once they were successfully connected, not only did the original businesses stay, but new ones came.

“It’s enabled the city of Little Falls to attract new businesses and we continue to expand that network as the city recruits new businesses into the community,” Buttweiler said.

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