The Office of Broadband Development outlines some of the details of the $70 million the legislature recently approved for broadband…
The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funds the expansion of broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved. The grant program was created in Minn. Stat. 116J.395 in 2014. The legislative focus of this grant program is to provide state resources that help make the financial case for new and existing providers to invest in building broadband infrastructure into unserved and underserved areas of the state.
The Border to Border Broadband Grant Program has historically been funded with state general fund revenues. State funding enabled OBD to open the grant application period within 30 days of the appropriation being authorized. In the 2021 Special Session, the legislature has directed DEED to submit an application to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for $70 million of Minnesota’s capital projects fund allocation under Public Law 117-2 (the American Recovery Plan Act) to fund the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program over the next two fiscal years. The preliminary guidance from Treasury, as well as the legislative appropriation language, indicates that there will be a state application required to be submitted to Treasury for the state to access this funding. There will also be federal standards regarding how the funding can be used which are not yet known. Once Treasury has issued further guidance and clarified the application process, OBD will be able to provide more information regarding the FY22 Border to Border Broadband Grant Program’s anticipated timeline, application, and requirements.
OBD intends to follow state law guidelines for the Border to Border Broadband Grant Program, while building in any measures necessary to comply with federal requirements associated with use of the capital projects fund for the FY22 grant round. If you are not familiar with the state grant program, you may want to review the information on the OBD website at Broadband Grant Program / Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (mn.gov) until further information is available.
Please continue to visit the Office of Broadband Development website to stay up to date on the Border to Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program.
OBD has also prepared a Grant Application Template for communities to use as a resource if they are considering using Local Fiscal Recovery Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for broadband infrastructure.