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.
Blue Earth County ranks 18 out of 87 counties for digital equity. They rank well for most tracts except for percentage of population living in poverty; ranking 84 for folks living below 150 percent poverty and 85 for below poverty. It’s actually impressive with that level of poverty that the rank 10 for computer ownership and 14 with broadband subscription. Perhaps they are already spreading the word about federal subsidy programs; if not that may help get even more people online. But right now a bigger goal would be getting people who are online get better jobs with digital training and workforce development.
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)
|Blue Earth County||Ranking|
|Access to 100/20||5|
|No HS degree||13|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||84|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||85|
|No broadband access||27|
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:
- Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial School District (ISD #2071)
Superintendent Mark Westerburg
- Mankato School District (ISD #77)
Superintendent Paul Peterson
- Maple River School District (ISD #2135)
Superintendent Dan Anderson
- Saint Clair School District (ISD #75)
Superintendent Tim Collins
Regional Development Commission
- Local special nod to local libraries
- School District Community Ed sites
- Adult Basic Education https://www.southwestabe.org/ and http://mnabe.org/abe-instruction/digital-literacy
- Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council
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|