Senator Smith’s broadband roundtable in Kandiyohi County

I posted notes and video from the broadband meeting in Willmar yesterday. Fun to see so much location media cover the story…

West Central Tribute reports

“It represents a very big commitment for the township board. It will take two-thirds of our useable cash to do this project,” said Joel Johnson, Mamre Township supervisor. “Without this help, it would not be attainable at all.”

A major concern for all who plan to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for state grant matches is whether it will be allowed since the state plans to fund those broadband grants with its own American Rescue Plan Act allocation. Right now there are worries that current statutes — specifically the Stafford Act, which covers how the federal government assists state and local governments after a disaster or emergency — would not allow that.

“If there is not a waiver of that somehow, projects across the country are going to fall apart,” said Michelle Marotzke, economic development professional with the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission. “This should be a federal concern.”

Willmar Radio reports with direct audio quotes and…

Other issues brought up at the meeting included frustration at the right of first refusal that existing providers have that have hindered finding customers for new high speed internet fibre-optic cable installation projects. While there appears to be a lot of government money available for projects, the blizzard of paperwork, restrictions and regulations are a dis-incentive to try and move forward with projects. The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the need for high speed internet, as students have been forced to distance-learn and many workers are working from home.

This entry was posted in Conferences, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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