From the MN Broadband Coalition…
The Minnesota Legislature passed $70 million for the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program today and sent the bill on to Governor Tim Walz for his signature. The Omnibus Jobs and Economic Development Bill passed the House 71-62 and the Senate 51-15. The funding will be evenly divided over the next two years.
“The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition’s top priority this year was to fund the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant Program. We are incredibly pleased with today’s news,” said Jay Trusty, Chair of the MN Rural Broadband Coalition. “This is the single largest investment by the Legislature in the program’s history, and it’s desperately needed. Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans lack access to even the most basic broadband service. We’re so thankful to Rep. Rob Ecklund, Sen. Tom Bakk, Rep. Gene Pelowski, Sen. Torrey Westrom, and Gov. Tim Walz for their leadership on this issue.”
The funding will come from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund. The Office of Broadband Development at DEED must apply to receive the funds from the federal government. Full guidance on the program requirements and application process is forthcoming from the U.S. Treasury.
The coronavirus pandemic showed us what rural Minnesotans have long known to be true: everyone needs access to reliable, high-speed broadband internet. Continued funding of the Border-to-Border program means we will come closer to achieving the state’s statutory speed goal of 100mbps download by 20mbps upload by 2026.