Hosting Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota on Tuesday, the Blandin Foundation heard from a representative for a league of municipalities that the senator should take back to Washington a call for funding in areas for connectivity that are traditionally not considered rural.
Brenda Johnson, executive director of the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities, told Klobuchar that small cities that receive a high number of tourists and boost the local economy in Southeastern Minnesota should be included in the definition of “rural.”
“Down here we have a lot tourism which takes people into the beautiful parts of our bluff country,” Johnson said. “It’s a difficult area to serve [broadband] . . . when we have people visiting we need them to be safe but in Whalan, they have no way to get signal.”
Klobuchar responded by illustrating the need for greater connectivity. “Snowmobilers, people who in the middle of winter, that’s very scary too when something goes wrong and their cell phone won’t work . . . that’s why we’re pushing for this emergency funding,” she said.
Klobuchar has regarded herself as a key part of the broadband provisions included in the Senate-passed infrastructure bill, which includes $65 billion for broadband. Setting an optimistic tone, Klobuchar told the audience that the infrastructure bill would pass in the House of Representatives, though a vote isn’t scheduled.