MN Broadband Task Force March Meeting
The Broadband Task Force heard about broadband in tribal areas from Jason Hollinday at Fond du Lac and about digital equity from Bernadine Joselyn at the Blandin Foundation.
How does your county rank for broadband access and use?
Using Census data, Minnesota counties have been ranked according to broadband adoption. It’s striking to see that while the top ranked counties for broadband availability are a mix of rural and urban counties; the top counties for access/use are decidedly metro leaning.
Launch Minnesota Awards $1 million
MN DEED awards $1 million in Launch Minnesota Education Grants to nine organizations throughout Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, Red Wing, Bemidji, Itasca County, St Cloud and Mankato.
I’m thankful for broadband
We shared stories from the frontlines to help motivate and inspire decisionmakers as they do the important work of planning for a tech-connected future in rural Minnesota. Help spread the word by sharing or contributing a video.
State Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- MN Rural Broadband Coalition Day on the Hill notes
- MN House Committee moves two broadband bills rereferred to Ways and Means
- Views on the MN Broadband Line Extension bills
- MN House Committee moves forward bill to use Border to Border funding for line extensions to individual homes
- MRBC Update: House Committee Hears Line Extension Bill
- Minnesota ranks 31 for strength of its broadband ecosystem
- What do seniors want? Affordable broadband
- MN Senate approves step to Minnesota becoming a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)
- Proponent of broadband in MN, Rep Ecklund seeks reelection
- MRBC Update: Senate Ag Committee Hears $110 Million Broadband Bill
- Senator Westrom to run again to continue to work on broadband
- Association of Minnesota Counties makes broadband a priority
- MRBC Update: Broadband Line Extension Bill Heard by Senate Committee
- MN Senate Committee learns about Line Extension Program and Easements for Broadband
- MN DEED Commissioner Grove’s vision to move MN forward includes broadband
- Bill Coleman talks about the Blandin Foundation Accelerate! program on MuniNets’ podcast
Federal Policy Issues (in reverse chronological order)
- New federal law reduces maternal mortality – in part with access to telehealth
- FCC Announces Third Application Window, Emergency Connectivity Fund Commitments
- Federal funding promotes municipal networks which clashes with some state policies (including MN)
- FCC announces latest RDOF winners including $15M to Qwest in Minnesota
- Charter Now Offering 200 Mbps Starting Speeds in All Markets
- Land O’Lakes gets nice recognition for American Connection Project from Fast Company
- Researchers find connection between COVID deaths and lack of broadband
- FCC announces latest RDOF winners including Halstad and Wikstrom Telephone Companies
Local Broadband News
East Central MN
East Central Minnesota’s road to Smart21
MN Rural Broadband Coalition Day on the Hill notes
Kandiyohi County looking at several paths to better broadband
Senators Klobuchar and Smith as Rep Stauber support $5.8 Million in Pine County
Pine County receives Federal grant to construct fiber broadband east of the cities of Hinckley and Sandstone
Redwood, Otter Tail and Becker Counties
Arvig to Upgrade parts of Redwood, Otter Tail and Becker Counties (MN)
Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources
- EVENT May 24-25: Telehealth Everywhere hosted by gpTRAC
- OPPORTUNITY: Dakota County looking for fiber contractors
- OPPORTUNITY: Senator Smith now accepting applications for Congressionally-Directed Spending in MN
Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman
Congratulations to both of Minnesota’s East Central Region and Alexandria Lakes Area for making this year’s Smart 21 Communities list. This recognition means that these communities’ economic development teams are doing some great thinking and working on the future! I have been promoting the Intelligent Community concept through my work with Blandin Foundation for more than a decade – first, with the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Community initiative, and then followed by the Blandin Broadband Communities program. Depending on how you count, we have worked with more than 50 “communities, “ including cities, counties, tribal governments and regional planning commissions, even a unique multi-community effort called the “Central Woodlands” in the northern section of east central Minnesota.
The Intelligent Community concept transforms the thinking around the pursuit of broadband infrastructure from the end in itself to the creation of a platform for community vitality. Many of you have heard my analogy of broadband infrastructure as an exercise bike. To achieve benefit, you need to actually get up off the couch and pedal. ICF views broadband infrastructure as supporting workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, sustainability, and community engagement activities. Blandin has funded hundreds of projects to get communities up and pedaling that has increased community tech vitality.
The real value in the ICF framework is where the various elements connect; it is there where there is great opportunity for cross-sector collaboration and systemic transformation. Strategic thinking and partnerships among universities, businesses, and government partners are essential for big picture initiatives that can support long-term community competitiveness. You also need to include the general citizenry! The ICF model requires “adaptive community coalitions,” a phrase used by the New York Times Tom Friedman at last year’s Blandin broadband conference. Or, in the ideal, what I would say is getting the right people together at the right time to do the right thing! Or in real life, “getting some of the right people together, not too late, to do the best you can!”
Communities that work together over a long time, like the Alexandria Lakes Area and the East Central Region, build the relationships and trust to be successful. The Alexandria Economic Development Commission has worked in close partnership with the Alexandria Technical and Community College for 40 years through the Minnesota Star City Program and beyond that program’s life. That work continues. Similarly, Pine Technical College has been building a regional economic development coalition for almost as long. The positive results are evident. Congratulations to their past, present and emerging leaders!