Big Stone County Digital Equity Profile – ranked 63

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.


Big Stone County ranks 63 out of 87 counties for digital equity. The good news is that federal funding might help change that around. Looking at the different tracts below, Big Stone is in that just below mid-rank for most tracts. Rank for lacking a bachelor’s degree is 78. That could be an opportunity. With increased access to remote degrees, technology might be a solution to help close that gap. It looks like folks might need help getting a computer (rank 88) and a subscription to broadband (rank 60) but tying those needs to the goal of education might help make a compelling case and provide opportunity for local residents to improve their livelihood. (The list below of local programs includes interesting digital training with adults so there’s a model to use!)

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)

Big Stone County Ranking
Access to 100/20 43
No bachelors 78
No HS degree 43
Below 150% poverty (last 12 months) 56
Below poverty (last 12 months) 41
Disability 67
No computer 66
No broadband access 50
No subscription 60
Overall average 63

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
Upper Minnesota Valley RDC Public Sector Broadband Feasibility Study Project support for a study to determine the feasibility of constructing a fiber network connecting all public buildings in the Upper Minnesota Valley Region
Upper Minnesota Valley RDC Regional Technology Team Project support to create a regional IT professional network to ignite cross-industry collaborations so the region can fully integrate technology in day-to-day efforts and large scale planning efforts
Upper Minnesota Valley RDC IT Connect II Project support to maintain a regional IT professional network in the Upper Minnesota Valley region
Upper Minnesota Valley RDC Rural Connect Project support to create a shared marketing message and implementation strategy for the region in an effort to attract people and investment
Upper Minnesota Valley RDC Rural Connect Phase II Project support for the Rural Connect Phase II
Project Owner Project Name Description
Big Stone County Public Internet Access Project The Public Internet Access Project will provide online access to government information and resources including forms, county highway project status, and GIS information. Online access will increase awareness, options and citizen control in how they interact with county government.
Dawson / Boyd Schools Community Digital Literacy Community Digital Literacy will connect businesses, community members and students to support the creation of a digitally literate community through a Multimedia Collaboration Center, a Student Tech Team, and a hybrid (online and classroom) Teacher/Community Training Academy.
Johnson Memorial Health Services HomeStream HomeStream will demonstrate the potential for using broadband‐based remote support tools and enhanced family engagement with aging populations to define appropriate visits/hospitalizations and to achieve increased medication adherence for better health outcomes.
Lac qui Parle County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Computer Commuter Computer Commuter is an innovative mobile computer lab that increases the digital literacy of area residents and businesses, advances knowledge workers, and promotes broadband availability and digital inclusion.
Ortonville School / Ortonville EDA Community Broadband Strategies Community Broadband Strategies will increase Internet usage by 1) giving businesses an understanding of the uses and benefits access provides, 2) exposing community members to the information that they can obtain, 3) encouraging a viable economic community and a school system that uses technology, and 4) involving youth in the community’s development, thereby encouraging them to return as adults.
Pioneer Public Television Video on Rural Broadband Use During the first phase of production, Pioneer will be developing a segment of approximately 14 minutes focusing on western Minnesota individuals and organizations affected by a lack of broadband availability.  This segment will be produced in the third and fourth quarter of 2011 for submission to the national public television program, Need to Know, and will form the basis for a longer program of up to 28 minutes.
Upper Minnesota Valley RDC Community Websites This project will assist two cities (Bellingham and Echo) in the creation of community websites.


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. (Big Stone participated in multiple Blandin cohorts.):

Project Owner Project Name Description
Big Stone County Big Stone County Smart Rooms Expand technology access around the county by creating four Smart Rooms in four communities that residents can use for remote meetings, trainings, and connect with friends and family.
Big Stone County 4H 4-H STEM Programming Provide STEM learning opportunities to students in 4-H afterschool programs and day camps including a STEM Career Day, STEM Camps, and establish an AIS/Robotics Team.
U of MN Extension
Big Stone County Family Services Childcare Technology Initiative Promote childcare as a profession, help to improve existing childcare business operations and access to information, and ensure young children have access to online learning opportunities by providing at least two devices and support and training to childcare providers.
Big Stone County HRA Lakeside Apartment Broadband Access Improve educational and career opportunities by ensuring low-income residents in public housing have access to computers and the internet. The project will expand Wi-Fi to the common areas of Lakeside Apartments for both building residents and residents of other public housing units in Ortonville.
Big Stone County Veterans Services Technology Assistance for Veterans Increase access to educational opportunities and support services among veterans by offering technical literacy training.
Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley Elementary School CGB Schools STEM Opportunity for Students Provide fun and engaging STEM opportunities for K-8 students through the purchase of STEM materials and curriculum. Students will learn basics in computer science and coding, and interact with technology tools and/or robots.
Ortonville EDA Business Training Project Phase I Increase the sophistication of use of broadband to help small businesses and organizations, with a special emphasis on artists, sell and market their products and services.
Ortonville EDA Business Training Project Phase II Further increase the sophistication of use of broadband to help small businesses and organizations by offering further trainings with a special emphasis on opportunities to build their customer base and increase profitability.


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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