Nobles County Digital Equity Profile – ranked 69

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.


Nobles County ranks 69 out of 87 counties for digital equity. Nicollet has some low-ranking areas, especially high school graduation (rank 87), bachelor’s degree (rank 82) and computer access (rank 82). It seems like that might be an opportunity for an initiative or focus on helping people get a use technology (a computer and broadband access) for formal education. They have had digital equity programs in the past, which should mean there’s local expertise and engagement to tap into.

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)

Nobles County Ranking
Access to 100/20 41
No bachelors 82
No HS degree 87
Below 150% poverty (last 12 months) 75
Below poverty (last 12 months) 72
Disability 34
No computer 82
No broadband access 1
No subscription 64
Overall average 69

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
Greater Round Lake Community Association Technology Education for Round Lake Project support for technology education classes at the Round Lake Community Center
Independent School District 518 (Worthington area) Changing Main Street through Technology and Education Project support for the Changing Main Street through Technology and Education project, which includes classes on succession planning and technology for area business owners and educational opportunities for individuals interested in running a small business
Independent School District 518 (Worthington area) Community-Wide Reading Through myON Digital Library Project support to implement the use of the myON digital library in the Worthington area for the benefit of preschoolers and their families
Independent School District 518 (Worthington area) Digital Inclusion Through Community Ed Project support for online marketing, technology and digital literacy training for area residents
Minnesota West Community & Technical College – Worthington Introduction to Digital Literacy Project support to develop a two-credit college course on digital literacy targeted toward high school and college students
Nobles County BAC Fiber Access Project support to bring fiber to the Biotechnology Advancement Center (BAC), its teleconferencing room, and the business incubators in the Worthington Industrial Park
Nobles County Feasibility Study Project support to conduct a feasibility study to gather information and provide a decision making path for local officials to meet the goal of ubiquitous broadband coverage across Nobles County
Nobles County NEON Hot Spots Project support to provide more accessible, reliable and affordable access to internet services for the rural residents of Nobles County by providing up to nine hot spots
Nobles County Regional data center vision Project support to determine the feasibility of developing a regional data center and disaster recovery site at the former county jail in downtown Worthington
Nobles County Integration Collaborative Digital Literacy for Diverse Communities Project support to provide digital literacy training for diverse communities via a train-the-trainer approach (ethnic leaders will learn to teach basic computer skills in their native language)
Nobles County Library iPads for Public Use Capital support for mobile devices within two branches of the Nobles County Library for patron usage and check-out to community groups and preschools


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. (Nobles County has participated in multiple Blandin cohorts.):

Program Owner Program Name Description
Nobles County Integration Collaborative Computer Lab and Classes Nobles County Integration Collaborative will purchase equipment for a small computer lab, as well as a set of laptops that will also be housed at NCIC, but can be checked out by area agencies for training purposes. The grant will also be used to purchase a wireless access point for the West Learning Center, which serves many immigrant families in the community. Nobles County Integration Collaborative will make the new computers available to the public during regular office hours (five days and two evenings per week).  Additionally, the grant funds will be used to pay instructors to teach basic computer and Internet classes in two languages: Spanish and Karen. NCIC staff will also utilize the computers with families as they participate in college and career exploration programs offered at NCIC and with adult English language learners.
Nobles County Integration Collaborative Cultural Awareness and Integration Grant Nobles County Integration Collaborative will work with Cable TV3 on  a project where high school students will learn how to use a video camera and video editing equipment.  The students first project will be to film and edit a video where they will interview adults about their heritage or immigration experiences, which will be shared with the community on Cable TV3 and in other settings.  The video equipment will be used to record and share other Culture Corner events in the future.
St. Mary’s School 21st Century Technology St. Mary’s School 21st Century Technology will implement new technology tools throughout the 2011 school year, with the first priority and immediate need of providing constant Internet access to the students, staff and volunteers. To better engage students in classroom projects and discussions, St. Mary’s is working to incorporate new interactive technology, such as a SmartBoard, in the second grade classroom.  This technology will allow students to work hands-on with a variety of online and downloadable activities. The final goal is to provide parents, students, and staff with a new user-friendly and content rich website that will also be used to inform parents during the school’s transition towards its paperless initiative.
WGTN-TV (ISD 518) Website Development WGTN-TV will make available live and taped broadcasts of local daily programming including government meetings and community events via web streaming for those without cable TV access.
Worthington ISD 518 iPad Integration Using Wireless Broadband Worthington ISD 518 will provide interactive tools for teacher and student use in the classroom through the purchase of iPads, and expand broadband capabilities with additional wireless access points throughout the district.  The iPads will be available to all students throughout the culturally and socioeconomically diverse district.  The grant will allow for training on the use of interactive tools and wireless devices to all constituents in District 518, including community members with no children enrolled in the schools.  This project will complement the district’s plans to enhance broadband infrastructure in the schools.
Worthington Regional Economic Development Commission Portable Bioscience Labs The Portable Bioscience Lab project will utilize advanced technology to transmit training and business information at a base site and throughout southwest Minnesota.  The primary purpose is to work within the agricultural industry, and more specifically in the bioscience area, to promote training and business innovation.  The project will provide digital learning and career exploration opportunities for high school students, increase skills for the employees in the identified industries, and create a network of information sharing.
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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