Chisago County Digital Equity Profile – ranked 16

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.


Chisago County ranks 16 out of 87 counties for digital equity. Chisago’s rankings are all over the place when you look at separate tracts. Access to broadband at speeds of 100 Mbps down and up 20 is ranked at 78. So clearly there is room to continue to work on improving broadband access. They rank higher for many of the demographic tracts, such as high school degree (9) and poverty (6). But there is room for improvement with bachelor’s degree attainment. There may be an opportunity to develop a program that encourages further learning using technology. That might be compelling to funder and useful to the population. Chisago has a list of successful digital equity programs and partners (scroll down) to employ for future projects.

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)


Chisago County Ranking
Access to 100/20 78
No bachelors 48
No HS degree 9
Below 150% poverty (last 12 months) 8
Below poverty (last 12 months) 6
Disability 29
No computer 9
No broadband access 56
No subscription 9
Overall average 16

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
Chisago County HRA-EDA Community Outreach Project support to mobilize community stakeholders to gather and share information about existing and proposed broadband services and to develop and implement broadband improvement strategies
Chisago County HRA-EDA Community Survey and Outreach Project support to conduct a combined community survey and outreach effort to spur interest and action around broadband networks and services
Chisago County HRA-EDA Google Mapping Assistant Project support to increase the number of local businesses that have an online presence
Chisago County HRA-EDA Old Hwy 61 Grant Project support to inventory, map and showcase businesses and attractions along Old Highway 61 through online web and mobile devices
Chisago County HRA-EDA Quality Tech Training for Businesses Project support to design, promote and conduct multiple e-commerce/social media training sessions throughout the county
Chisago County HRA-EDA Teleconference Equipment Grant Capital support for two video conference systems to enable distance learning for the county, local residents, businesses and organizations
Chisago County HRA-EDA Wi-Fi Hot Spots Capital support to create 8-10 Wi-Fi hot spots across Chisago County for enhanced public access
Chisago Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Chisago Lakes Community Website Project support to create and maintain a multi-community/area web site to serve visitors and residents with information on activities, attractions and community events
Chisago Lakes School District 2144 Chisago County Community Mobile Wi-Fi Project support to provide Wi-Fi on school buses to enable more productive use of student time on long bus rides to and from school activities and to provide free Wi-Fi at community events
City of North Branch North Branch Community Wi-Fi Project support to create three new Wi-Fi hotspots at public parks within city limits


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. (Chisago participated in multiple Blandin cohorts):

Project Owner Project Name Description
Chisago County HRA-EDA “A Conversation of the Rural Narrative” Event Highlight and celebrate Chisago Lakes’ BBC work in the context of overall rural community health and growth by hosting an event featuring Ben Winchester, U of MN Extension sociologist and researcher who will speak to how the work fits today’s rural narrative with regards to technology, engagement, and welcoming community efforts.
Chisago County HRA-EDA Virtual Manufacturing Tours Expand students’ exposure to technology and manufacturing as a career choice by producing eight video-tours of local manufacturing businesses. Students will view the tours in school and be able to follow up with the business via videoconference.
Chisago Lakes Chamber & Tourism Bureau Digital Economic Development Specialist Grow and develop the digital marketing presence of the Chisago Lakes Chamber and the Chisago Lakes Tourism Bureau via the services of a Digital Marketing Specialist to grow their social media footprint, promote their new brand, amplify tourism opportunities, and develop a tourism blog.
Chisago Lakes Chamber & Tourism Bureau Tech Equipment for Chisago Lakes Chamber & Visitors Bureau Increase the digital marketing capabilities of the Chamber and Visitors’ Bureau through the acquisition and use of tech equipment including a laptop, owl camera, and accessories which will allow for hybrid meeting format. This service will be used by the Chamber and Visitors’ Bureau and available to other community organizations.
Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce Broadband Infrastructure Community Survey Gather the data necessary to talk with providers, community leaders, and legislators about broadband infrastructure needs across the region by conducting a survey of residents and businesses on current internet satisfaction levels and unmet needs, and promote the Minnesota Speed Test.
Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce Digital Economic Development Toolkit Promote modern, ethical, and sustainable business practices in the Chisago County area through the development of training courses. Topics will include diversity and inclusion, marketing, and succession planning.
Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce New Chamber of Commerce Website Showcase local businesses with a new website for the Chisago Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. The new site will be much easier to use and include a data management system to provide higher value to the membership and community at large.
Chisago Lakes Community Ed & Chisago Age Well Older Adults EmPOWERED by Technology Reduce the digital divide by providing older adults with educational resources, classes, and support to use equipment, websites, and virtual platforms to stay involved and safely access activities and services in the community.
Chisago Lakes School District Mobile Hotspots for Community Increase access to the internet by deploying cellular mobile hotspots for community members in need, focusing first on families with students in the school system.


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