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.
Pine County ranks 86 out of 87 counties for digital equity. They are near the bottom despite having a community that has been working on digital equity and improving broadband for years. But that does mean they have local expertise and engagement, which will help take advantage of the funding that is coming into Minnesota. Their numbers may help make the case that they are good candidates for investment.
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)
|Access to 100/20||82|
|No HS degree||70|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||71|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||56|
|No broadband access||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:
- East Central School District (ISD #2580)
Superintendent Stef Youngberg
- Hinckley-Finlayson Public School District (ISD #2165)
Superintendent Brian Masterson
- Pine City School District (ISD #578)
Superintendent Cindy R Stolp
- Willow River School District (ISD #577)
Superintendent William Peel
(218) 372-3131 x112
Regional Development Commission
- East Central 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. (Pine County participated in multiple Blandin cohorts.):
|Project Owner||Project Name||Description|
|Pine City Chamber of Commerce||Going Google in Pine County||Increase visibility of local businesses by offering sessions with a Google-certified trainer on Google Maps, websites, and social media.|
|Pine County||Chengwatana Broadband Infrastructure||Increase access to broadband in Chengwatana Township by installing a 170’ guyed tower for fixed wireless to the Township Hall so they can offer free Wi-Fi to the public. Once installed the infrastructure should reach about 75 nearby households.|
|Pine County||Kerrick Broadband Infrastructure||Increase access to broadband in the City of Kerrick and Kerrick Township by installing a main line and last mile fiber cable to Kerrick Town Hall so they can offer free Wi-Fi to the public. Households along the route may also be served.|
|Pine County||Pine City Township Broadband Infrastructure||Increase access to broadband in Pine City and surrounding areas by installing fixed wireless services to an existing tower so free Wi-Fi can be offered to the public at the Pine City Town Hall. Once installed the infrastructure should reach about 155 nearby households.|