Aitkin County Digital Equity Profile – ranked 84

Every year, the Blandin on Broadband blog does County Broadband Profiles (and will do again when the new maps come out) but given federal opportunities are making it possible to get funding for access and adoption, I thought I’d try to present information for counties to assess their digital equity standing (see table below) and give options for who to contact locally for more information.


Aitkin County ranks 84 out of 87 for digital equity. While not inherently good news that should make for compelling case to receive funding. Aitkin ranks lowest for population with a disability. Because of that it may make sense to see who in the county is working with folks with disabilities and partner with them. Also access to computers and a broadband subscription rank lower than educational attainment, which might indicate a need to find ways to get technology in the hands of people who need it through distribution resources or my making it more affordable.  

Scroll down for details and suggested resources for more information.

Blandin Foundation is using the Microsoft Digital Equity Tool to determine needs by county and make high level recommendations for next steps to consider based on the data. (With special thanks to Carter Grupp, Broadband Coordinator Broadband Coordinator at American Connection Project for Otter Tail County.) Visit the tool if you want to look up more statistics on your community.

Demographic Data and Ranking (out of 87)


Aitkin County Ranking
Access t0 100/20 79
No bachelors 67
No HS degree 62
Below 150% poverty (last 12 months) 78
Below poverty (last 12 months) 68
Disability 87
No computer 83
No broadband access 68
No broadband subscription 78
Overall average 84

The map below shows digital inequity by census tract. The bluer the better; yellow and orange colors indicate more inequity. This map can be helpful in figuring out which parts of your county need the most help.

So where do you go to talk to people in the county about digit equity plans? Good places to start include:



Regional Development Commission

There’s a lot to take in but sometimes it’s also helpful to see what a community has done in the past, so we’ve gathered specific projects funded through the Blandin Foundation:

Project Owner Project Name Description
Aitkin County Web Diagnostics for Small Businesses Project support to increase the knowledge and use of e-commerce and social media tools for small businesses in Aitkin County
Aitkin County Web Diagnostics for Small Businesses, Part II Project support to provide technical assistance to businesses to market their products through online presence and social media
Audubon Center of the North Woods Online Public Access to Energy Data Project support to connect various alternative energy facilities into a unified network for data collection and analysis for integration into curricula and energy management systems
Depot Studios Expanding Access and Learning Opportunities Project support to provide computer access with a Wi-Fi hotspot at an artist, craft and entrepreneurial center in Isle
East Central RDC Broadband Inventory and Assessment Project support to conduct an analysis of the region’s existing broadband assets and services to inform community leaders about potential gaps and opportunities
East Central RDC Township Broadband Enhancements Project support to work with up to five rural townships to identify and implement broadband solutions providing public access in areas with little to no existing broadband access
Isle Recreation and Education Center Expanding Technology and Educational Opportunities Project support to provide computer classes and a Wi-Fi public access site in the Mille Lacs lakes area


There’s a lot to take in but sometimes it’s also helpful to see what a community has done in the past, so we’ve gathered specific projects funded through the Blandin Foundation. (Aitkin participated in multiple Blandin cohorts):

Project Owner Project Name Description
Aitkin County Aitkin County Community Calendar Create a county-wide landing page for events sponsored by Aitkin County Chambers, Schools and other organizations.
Aitkin County Community Conference Centers Provide three small communities with conference/meeting suites, including a mobile computer lab, smart boards, other digital equipment, and Wi-Fi hotspots for use by residents, community education and others.
Aitkin County Wi-Fi Network for Small Cities Provide Wi-Fi for the central hub of Palisade to attract commercial growth, promote connectivity, enhance education, and promote telehealth. This project will serve as a pilot for Wi-Fi networks in other small cities.
Aitkin County Wi-Fi at Berglund Park Provide Wi-Fi at the Palisade city park campground – a main entry point for the Northwoods ATV Trail and important source of economic activity. Park usage is anticipated to increase with Wi-Fi availability.
East Central Regional Library Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspots The East Central Regional Library will obtain 14 mobile hotspots and make them available to patrons at the Aitkin Library and other outreach locations in Aitkin County, providing internet access to county residents who don’t have broadband.
ISD 1 Aitkin Public Schools Wi-Fi Enabled Buses Install Wi-Fi on four school buses so students will be able to work on homework while traveling to and from home, and on longer trips.
Long Lake Conservation Center Wi-Fi and Increased Bandwidth at Long Lake Conservation Center Increase the Internet bandwidth to the LLCC campus, and improve the Wi-Fi network. This will improve working conditions for the staff, increase the effectiveness of programming offered, and make the center a more desirable event venue.
Aitkin County Aitkin County Wi-Fi Hotspot in Jacobson Community Center Project support to increase public access to the internet by installing a 25 megabit-per-second Wi-Fi hotspot in the Jacobson Community Center; a hub that hosts many local events and is an East Central Regional Library remote site.
Aitkin County Long Lake Conservation Center High-Speed Broadband at LLCC Project support to install high-speed fiber optic broadband at the Long Lake Conservation Center, enabling higher internet speeds and increased educational programming.
Aitkin County Riverwood Healthcare Center Increase MyChart Usage at Riverwood Healthcare Center Project support to increase the use of the MyChart online patient portal amongst patients and caregivers at Riverwood Healthcare Center, which allows patients better access to their electronic health records, and to schedule appointments, contact their provider, view test results, monitor health maintenance, etc.
Aitkin County Aitkin County Enhance Interactive Community Conference Centers Project support to increase access to training and decrease meeting travel by enhancing and expanding the existing interactive capabilities at the well-used community conference centers in Aitkin and McGregor by adding interactive cameras to allow for onsite and offsite use.




This entry was posted in MN Broadband Equity Profiles 2022 by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

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

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