South Central & Southeast Regional Broadband Conference Notes & Video

It’s been a great day of broadband conversations around the state. Three regional broadband conferences happened today and I’ll post on each separately. (There will be eight regional meetings leading up to statewide fall conference Oct 12-14.)

There were 40-50 people in attendance. The run of the day:

  • A panel on Mapping the Broadband Challenge looked at broadband maps and data collected by DEED’s Office of Broadband Development, the South East Minnesota League of Municipalities and the Minnesota Broadband Coalition.
  • Two regional initiatives talked about how to advance broadband-fueled economic and community development in the region: Red Wing Ignite and the Le Sueur County Broadband Initiative.
  • Ended with an exercise to prioritize broadband opportunities in this region, and talk about next steps.

Here are the presentations:

And chat from the day. The chat includes attendee introductions but also any resources share or questions…


  • 00:23:00 Christian Lilienthal: Sibley County Commissioner
  • 00:23:07 Mary Magnuson (she/her): Grand Rapids, Blandin Foundation
  • 00:23:07 Julie Tesch, CRPD: Julie Tesch, Center for Rural Policy & Development, Joining you from Waldorf, MN
  • 00:23:11 Brian Carlson, SEH: Brian Carlson, SEH, Community Development Manager
  • 00:23:13 Jennifer Hawkins, UMN Extension: Jennifer Hawkins, UMN Extension Center for Community Vitality, joining from Welch, MN
  • 00:23:13 William Eckles: Bevcomm
  • 00:23:14 Chuck Ackman: Chuck Ackman; I’m Senator Klobuchar’s Regional Outreach Director.
  • 00:23:17 Theresa Sunde: Theresa Sunde- Government Relations for Mediacom. Hey Benya and Julie!
  • 00:23:21 Brenda SEMLM: Brenda Johnson, Southeastern MN League of Municipalities, from Chatfield
  • 00:23:22 Trish Harren: Trish Harren Mower COunty AdministratorAustin, MN on behalf of Mower County
  • 00:23:23 ayokiel: Anita Yokiel – Consolidated Communications. Mankato, MN
  • 00:23:23 Jake Anderson: Jake Anderson, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and Bevcomm
  • 00:23:26 Ann Treacy: I’m Ann Treacy in St Paul – I help with the Blandin on Broadband blog
  • 00:23:31 Melissa DeVetter: Melissa DeVetter, Dodge County
  • 00:23:33 SPA-INT Nitaya J. (she-them): Good morning – NITAYA JANDRAGHOLICA from mower county – Austin MN
  • 00:23:33 Burke Murphy: Burke Murphy, Red Wing Ignite, Workforce Lead
  • 00:23:38 Gary Schott: Business Consultant for South Central MN SBDC in Mankato.
  • 00:23:43 JwokamerDebock: Jwokamer Debock; Digital Navigator with Austin Aspires in Austin,MN
  • 00:23:45 Diane Wells, MN Office of Broadband Dev.: Diane Wells, Office of Broadband Development, DEED
  • 00:23:47 Brian Frederick: Blue Earth County IT Analyst from Mankato
  • 00:24:02 John Smith: John Smith, IT Director, Goodhue County
  • 00:24:14 Niel Ritchie: Niel Ritchie, Senior Advisor, Sharing Our Roots
  • 00:24:19 Mike Refsland: Mike Refsland, Architect with DLR Group (Minneapolis), currently working from home where we don’t have access to high speed internet!
  • 00:24:26 Mary Ann Van Cura: mary ann van cura, live in Minneapolis, connections in greater mn, long-term digital inclusion advocate
  • 00:24:26 Rob Anderson: Rob Anderson, Community Development Director, City of Mountain Lake
  • 00:24:58 Jodi Refsland: Jodi Refsland, Damon Farber Landscape Architects, Remote Worker & Red Wing Resident
  • 00:25:41 Barbara Droher Kline: Barbara Droher Kline, Le Sueur County BB initiative
  • 00:29:35 Benya Kraus: Benya Kraus, Director of Lead For Minnesota – based here in Waseca. Excited to be here with you all!

00:24:49         Mary Magnuson (she/her): Statewide Broadband Conference:

00:29:21         Mary Magnuson (she/her): Meeting proceedings, including PPTs will be posted to the Blandin on Broadband Blog later today

00:33:35         Benya Kraus: Feel free to please use the chat box as an added layer of interaction. If you have questions, notes, fun jokes about broadband, throw them in here! 🙂

00:35:09         Matt Peabody: Are those maps available in a GIS format or some open API that we can access to do our own analytics and/or merge it with our GIS, population, or other data to guide broadband deployment?

00:38:15         Jennifer Frost: Yes. The eligibility (served, unserved and underserved) map is available on the interactive map and is available for download under the download tab.

00:39:11         Jennifer Frost: All Office of Broadband maps can be found here:

00:41:03         Mary Ann Van Cura: where will diane wells’ powerpoint be posted? ty

00:42:12         Mary Magnuson (she/her): Diane’s will be posted to the Blandin on Broadband blog We’ll link to Brenda’s there, too.

00:48:21         Diane Wells, MN Office of Broadband Dev.: The maps the Office of Broadband Development has start with data reported by providers. If you are aware of locations, neighborhoods, etc. where the map shows coverage but it is not in fact available, please let us know and we will work to get the maps corrected. Email

00:48:36         Benya Kraus: If any of these quotes resonate (or don’t) with you, feel free to use the chat and let us know!

00:49:11         Bernadine Joselyn (she/her): Resource shared by Theresa Sunde:  The FCC has a benefit program for qualifying household- $ 50  and $75 for Tribal land residentss. This is a monthly discount on Internet services.

00:49:26         Theresa Sunde: Thank you, Bernadine

00:49:46         Benya Kraus: Shout out to my county (Waseca) library — Stacey Lienemann — as well as school district for getting WiFi mobile hot spots out to students and their families.

00:50:12         Mary Ann Van Cura: Stacey Lienemann is a leader!

00:50:31         Benya Kraus: ^ Cheers to that!!

00:51:42         Stacy Lienemann (she/her/hers): Thanks, Benya and Mary Ann! The Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative System which serves 9 counties (Le Sueur, Waseca, Brown, Sibley, Faribault, Martin, Watonwan, Blue Earth, Nicollet) is in the process of rolling out hotspots with 3-month checkouts through libraries.

00:52:15         Benya Kraus: How is that getting funded, Stacy? ARPA?

00:54:11         Mike Refsland: Is the 3/8 mile from a fiber line a requirement of internet providers, Counties, funding sources, other?

00:55:01         Stacy Lienemann (she/her/hers): They are starting with some state money and waiting on a response about an ARPA grant.

01:00:12         SPA-INT Nitaya J. (she-them): Tell us more why do you think transforming broadband as part of utilities is not proposed more.

01:02:24         JwokamerDebock: Stacy that’s a great idea!

01:02:39         Mike Refsland: For rural homeowners w/o broadband access: What is the best way homeowners can advocate for broadband installation to their specific area? Who to contact (County, State, Internet Provider, other)?

01:03:26         Jennifer Hawkins, UMN Extension: @stacy Google for business is a great set of tools  —!/

01:03:37         Diane Wells, MN Office of Broadband Dev.: On the question of transforming broadband to be considered a utility, right now the FCC has interpreted broadband to be a Title 1 information service under the Communications Act. Congress needs to update the Communications Act.

01:03:54         Stacy Lienemann (she/her/hers): We definitely will be using Google for Business. Thanks, Jennifer.

01:05:11         SPA-INT Nitaya J. (she-them): Thank you

01:05:22         Ann Treacy: The MN Dep of Ed has some great Digital Inclusion materials too – more at org level

01:07:27         Ann Treacy: NDIA also have some tools for digital navigators that might be helpful:

01:08:48         Mary Ann Van Cura: American Library Assn has curated digital literacy materials  – see

01:10:03         Trish Harren: Is there a central place where you can find out what projects are in process? We wrote a border to border grant a few years ago and it was only when we did not get the grant that we learned that a provider had a project planned in   one of the areas our vendor partner had planned to cover.

01:10:32         Ann Treacy: Sorry folks – I’ll try to come back but I’m presenting at another regional meeting in the next hour!

01:22:44         Benya Kraus: For those who just come on, we’re discussing innovative broadband adoption case studies in Red Wing Ignite and Le Sueur County. Please share your questions, comments, ways that your community has tried similar initiatives, roadblocks you ran into, etc… in the chat!

01:24:49         Benya Kraus: “Key to growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem is investing in social capital.”

01:27:59         Bernadine Joselyn (she/her): Neela Molgaard now head’s DEED’s new Launch initiative: Launch Minnesota is a statewide collaborative effort to accelerate the growth of startups and amplify Minnesota as a national leader in innovation.

01:30:36         Bernadine Joselyn (she/her): Blandin Foundation has recognized Gary Evan’s leadership with a Courageous Leadership Award for his visionary work standing up Hiawatha Broadband, with it’s public purpose:

01:32:34         Bernadine Joselyn (she/her): Red Wing Ignite:

01:34:00         Stacy Lienemann (she/her/hers): Wow! Great!

01:34:52         Bernadine Joselyn (she/her): US Ignite:

01:40:03         Brenda SEMLM: Love having Red Wing doing this!

01:40:04         Mary Ann Van Cura: love the chicken production story

01:42:12         Shannan Harris: Poultry Patrol Video

01:42:15         Shannan Harris:

01:42:25         Shannan Harris: thanks for hanging in there with us!

01:45:44         Benya Kraus: Love how you all coordinated all the townships together to pool funds together

01:46:45         Benya Kraus: Wondering what groundwork of relationships, trust, collaboration you laid before hand so you were ready for this opportunity? Was that through the steering committee?

01:47:51         Stacy Lienemann (she/her/hers): Great, Barbara!

01:51:05         Brenda SEMLM: Great grassroots efforts, Barbara. Excellent!

01:51:34         Benya Kraus: Key insight: All community broadband initiatives must have a booth at the county fair!

01:51:42         Benya Kraus: 🙂

01:53:03         Bernadine Joselyn (she/her): Key insight: Be Ready, and Ready to Pivot!

01:53:08         Niel Ritchie: Really great examples of creating momentum through leveraged resources.

01:53:46         Benya Kraus: You need someone whose personality is as bright as your yellow house, Barb!

01:54:44         Niel Ritchie: Education is economic development. How are the schools participating?

01:59:23         Benya Kraus: Key insight: Find the people who are most proximate to the communities you most need to reach (often ones not with the Google searchable titles), and build the intentional trusting relationship. (i.e. High school counselors vs. say, only a high school principal).


  • 02:07:45 Benya Kraus: Feel free to type your questions or concerns in the chat if you’d prefer not to use the JamBoard
  • 02:09:59 Mary Ann Van Cura: Whether urban or rural, providers appear to shoot for a monthly rate of $100/month. 1) how to work toward funding models that provide an affordable pricing model and 2) how to have high speeds for all with an affordable price for all
  • 02:10:47 Trish Harren: A coordinated communications strategy.
  • 02:11:33 Benya Kraus: Trish, can you elaborate on that? Between who?
  • 02:11:39 Benya Kraus: Communicating on what?
  • 02:11:57 Lois: My screen doesn’t hv second ?? popping up? Education is key to all of this topic
  • 02:14:24 Lois: #3 Utility designation for broadband and money!
  • 02:14:44 Benya Kraus: Thanks, Lois!
  • 02:20:52 Brenda SEMLM: DEED?
  • 02:25:38 Mary Ann Van Cura: When I wanted to put pressure on automated system vendors to develop software capacity, I’d plan and moderate a program at a professional conference that invited a set of vendor reps to participate in a panel, each answering the same questions. Sometimes they’d provide a canned response, but it stimulated them to compete to serve the community needs.
  • 02:25:47 Brian Frederick: I do need to run to another appt. I will watch the recording to see how the meeting turns out.
  • 02:34:29 Trish Harren: It is a proven model to deliver a key service. It worked for electricity, phone, natural gas, it can work for broadband too.

02:38:57         Trish Harren: Very valuable meeting. Thank you all so much.

02:39:16         Niel Ritchie: Thank you!

02:39:17         Mary Magnuson (she/her): Statewide Conference (October)

02:39:44         Mary Magnuson (she/her): Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate!

02:40:48         JwokamerDebock:  Thank you!

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