eNews: MN Monthly Recap March 2023: MN State broadband funding in question

How to get Ready for Federal Funds
The State is working on a plan to maximize access to federal funds. The Feds have been clear on the steps and a big part is creating a digital equity plan for the state based on input from as many communities as possible. Communities may be geographic or specially focused. The are some tools, handbooks and advice to help. Also the Office of Broadband Development is looking for local input.

Penultimate Task Force Meeting
The Minnesota Broadband Task Force will sunset after March. They met and heard from new Task Force Member Barbara Droher Kline about life on the frontlines of a community without broadband.

Blandin Broadband Communities
The last BBC project check in was a fun look at what’s happening with broadband in four communities.

State News    

Federal News

Local Broadband News

Benton County
Benton County Commissioner willing to invest $1.5 million in broadband project with Benton Communications

Cass County
Cass County to invest ARPA funds on TDS application to Border to Border funds

Cuyuna Range
Willmar MN is looking at Open Access Model with Home Town Fiber

Fairmount County
Fairmount County to invest $1.5M in ARPA funds in broadband – looking for proposals

Goodhue County
Goodhue County Board chooses not to move forward with broadband plan at this time

Hubbard, Itasca and St Louis Counties
Paul Bunyan Telephone awarded $10 million in ReConnect funds for networks in Hubbard, Itasca, and St. Louis counties

Iron Range
Bois Forte Band of Chippewa expands broadband on the Iron Range

May Township
MidCo applies for Border to Border funding to get better broadband to May Township (Washington County)

Ramsey County
Ramsey County residents talk about their broadband experience

Red Lake Nation
Red Lake Nation College gets almost $2 million from feds to expand broadband

Renville County
Broadband survey open in Renville County

Willmar MN is looking at Open Access Model with Home Town Fiber
Willmar City building an open access fiber network with Hometown Fiber

Upcoming Events, Opportunities and Resources

Update from Blandin Foundation

Dear Rural Broadband Champions – When I shared a note with you last fall, the historic funding for broadband had not yet started to arrive in rural Minnesota communities, and the Blandin Foundation had just announced its new strategic direction.

Since then, these funds have begun to arrive. We see headlines every week about Minnesota’s rural communities and Native Nations putting these dollars to work on high-speed internet projects in places that need it most. These stories illustrate that what we believed could be true when we started our broadband program in 2003 is now reality:  rural Minnesotans are equipped to advocate for, build and use reliable, affordable high-speed internet.

Your confident, committed action is attracting new funds, far beyond what the Foundation alone can provide. This kind of collaboration and collective impact is rural at its best, demonstrating how resourceful and resilient we are. It is a model Blandin Foundation will build on as we tackle pressing rural needs and disparities with renewed focus.

In the next few weeks, we’ll transition our work on broadband access and use. Our current cohort of Blandin Broadband Communities will wrap up their activities and celebrate project completion in early summer. Soon, we’ll share details of where you can continue to access the program’s resources, including the future of the Blandin on Broadband blog, as you continue your community’s work.

Most importantly, we’ll celebrate. The vision that launched us into broadband nearly 20 years ago. The upswell of awareness in communities and halls of government that rural communities have critical and unique needs to be online. The tenacity and passion of each of you to pursue your rural place’s broadband vision, wherever that journey led. And the strength you show now, and in the years ahead, to see this work through and build a sustainable, equitable future.

More soon.

Tuleah Palmer
Blandin Foundation CEO


This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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