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.

Rep Sandstede promotes a push for broadband expansion

Duluth News Tribune offers a candidate guide for Minnesota House District 6A, a race against Robert Farnsworth and Julie Sandstede. Sanstede mentions broadband as a priority…

Economic recovery for families and small businesses will be my priority. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! I will work to accomplish this by collaborating with colleagues on both sides of the aisle for an expansion of grants and loans to businesses available through the state and Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. I will push for an expansion of broadband and connectivity services in the region to draw in new businesses and provide opportunity for those working from home.

Want to take a COVID test at home? You’re going to need broadband.

Good news! You can now take a COVID test at home

Minnesota health officials announced a new at-home saliva test pilot program Thursday that will allow residents in two dozen counties or tribal nations to test themselves for COVID-19.

Bad news for some. You need enough broadband for telehealth to do it…

People participating in the at-home tests will need to perform the test, which involves spitting into a small tube, under the supervision of a health care professional through a video telehealth visit.

Donate a device for redistribution in St Cloud this weekend!

Clean out that back room. Make room for holiday gifts. Make someone’s life a little easier. Donate a digital device. KSNI reports

The United Way of Central Minnesota will host a donation event this weekend to help families get the digital devices they need to stay connected during the pandemic.

The device drive will happen Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Quinlivan & Hughes parking lot. Donors can place donatable items in their vehicle’s trunk, drive to the donation site, and pop the trunk. Volunteers will unload the items.

Some acceptable donations include cell phones and tablets restored to factory settings, laptops, computer towers and monitors, keyboards, mice and servers. Appliances that don’t connect to the internet like copy machines and TVs will not be accepted.

Director of volunteer engagement Mary Krippner said this device drive is a first for the local United Way.

Broadband 2020: Broadband 101: Federal Broadband Funding Overview by Jessica Zufolo, Magellan

Thanks to Jessica Zufolo for sharing her expertise…

Broadband 101: Federal Broadband Funding Overview by Jessica Zufolo, Magellan

Jessica Zufolo, Vice President, Rural Broadband Strategy
Jessica joins Magellan after serving in various senior leadership roles throughout federal government and non-profit sectors for over 20 years. Prior to joining Magellan, Jessica served for over five years as the Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships for the Lifeline Division at the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) where she managed all state, federal and tribal engagement that led to the establishment of the Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier. Prior to her tenure at USAC, Jessica was appointed by former President Barack Obama to serve as the Deputy Administrator for the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) where she helped oversee a $65 billion federal loan and grant portfolio that finances water systems telecommunications and broadband networks, precision agriculture, electric utility, smart grid and renewable energy projects in rural and tribal communities.

Jessica also served as the Legislative Director for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) where she was responsible for developing legislative strategy for all 50 state public service commissions involving telecommunications, technology, consumer protection and water. Early in her distinguished career, Jessica worked on Capitol Hill for eight years overseeing telecommunications and energy policy for the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and Representative Peter A. Defazio of Oregon. Jessica earned her MBA with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BA in military history and political science from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Broadband 2020: Office Hours: CTEP AmeriCorps program, Joel Krogstad

Thanks to folks who spent their Friday lunch with us learning about AmeriCorps and digital literacy!

CTEP AmeriCorps program with Joel Krogstad

The St. Paul Neighborhood Network’s (SPNN) Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) has 35 AmeriCorps Members provide assessment and instruction that improves the technology literacy and employability of low-skilled adults and employment-aged youth in the Twin Cities metro area. Each year, the CTEP AmeriCorps Members will help 1,500 individuals become certified in basic computer skills and 650 to obtain jobs. In addition, the AmeriCorps members will leverage 475 volunteers who will provide additional technology literacy instruction.

Joel Krogstad, Program Director since 2006, has a Master’s degree in Work, Community and Family Education, and has served in this position since 2006. LinkedIn

Broadband 2020: Book Club: Thank You for Being Late by Tom Friedman

The Blandin Foundation partnered with Global Minnesota to host a book club to discuss Thank You for Being Late by Tom Friedman to prepare for his keynote next week. (Not too late to sign up for the Friedman keynote – it’s free!) You can hear the conversation…

More info from Global Minnesota...

Global Minnesota is partnering with the Blandin Foundation and DEED’s Office of Broadband Development to host an exclusive book club discussion of author Thomas Friedman’s latest book “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.”

The Financial Times has described “Thank You for Being Late” as a “field guide to the twenty-first century.” In this book, Minnesota’s native son makes the argument that “decency,” “community,” and the “topsoil of trust” can be cultivated anywhere to anchor increasingly diverse and digital populations. Chock full of references to his childhood in St. Louis Park and Willmar, MN, “Thank You for Being Late” is Friedman’s most ambitious book – and an essential guide to the present and the future.

Join Global Minnesota President Mark Ritchie for a virtual book club discussion on “Thank You for Being Late” and about what it takes to survive and thrive through accelerating change.

NACo Forms Broadband Task Force – including 4 Minnesotans!

The National Association of Counties (NACo) announces

National Association of Counties (NACo) President Gary Moore today announced the formation of a broadband task force. The task force, comprised of nearly three dozen county government officials from across America, will study the lack of reliable broadband with a particular focus on the challenges facing underserved communities.

A report, titled Understanding the True State of Connectivity in America, released by NACo and partner organizations earlier this year, found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of U.S. counties experience the internet at speeds below minimum standards set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with that number even higher in rural America, where 77 percent of counties operate below the FCC standard.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting families and businesses, the need for reliable high-speed internet is more acute than ever,” said Task Force Co-Chair Craig Rice, a Montgomery County, Md. council member. He noted that many people are attending school and working from home. Individuals and families are relying on the internet for remote health care and conducting transactions through e-commerce.

“Our new task force will examine the intersection of public and private sector efforts to deploy broadband networks and create a blueprint for local governments to help bridge the digital divide,” said Task Force Co-Chair J.D. Clark, the county judge in Wise County, Texas.

Local governments often face state-imposed limitations to expanding access to broadband connectivity. In 22 states, local governments are restricted from making investments in broadband infrastructure networks. NACo is working to pass federal legislation that would remove those barriers and expand broadband access.

Lack of reliable broadband is a major barrier to socioeconomic opportunity, education, health and overall quality of life. Without access to high-speed internet, many rural communities – and even pockets in urban areas – are isolated and left behind. A 2018 study conducted by Microsoft concluded that 19 million rural Americans do not use broadband, largely due to a lack of access. For these small communities, broadband can serve as a lifeline, connecting students to online degrees and connecting sick patients to medical consultation that is locally unavailable.

High-speed internet is also consistently identified as a top challenge facing small businesses in rural America and stifles entrepreneurship by limiting the ability of individuals to take on independent work. In this economy, broadband is critical to building resilient and future ready communities.

See the full list of broadband task force members here. To explore all of NACo’s broadband resources, visit www.naco.org/broadband.

Here are the members from Minnesota:

  • Terry Ocaña​
    IT Director, Chippewa County, MN​
  • Hon. Mike Slavik​
    Commissioner, Dakota County, Minn.  ​
  • Hon. Rich Sve​
    Commissioner, Lake County, Minn.  ​
  • Hon. Tarryl Clark​
    Commissioner, Stearns County, Minn.​

EVENT Oct 27: East Range Broadband Feasibility Study Presentation

An invitation from the  East Range Broadband group…

Over the past two years, the East Range has worked on a regional project to understand what we need to do to improve our broadband. Now, it’s time for our broadband consultant, Diane Kruse of NEO Connect, to share the results of her work. The data she shares will give us the necessary information to make a case for stronger service and apply for state and federal grants.

Join us 10:30 on Tuesday, October 27 using this Zoom link!

Broadband 2020: Broadband 101: Creative Partnerships in Cooperative Broadband

Thanks to folks who joined to learn all about partnerships!

What do a showcase data center, tax abatements, a water cooperative, and a back office service have in common? They’re all proof that when it comes to deploying broadband, you don’t have to go it alone. Each one is a piece of the creative partnerships popping up across the country to deploy broadband to Co-op members. In this session, you’ll learn about some of the more creative arrangements bringing broadband to rural America.

Kristy Szabo, Director of Consulting for VantagePoint, has more than 24 years of experience in business finance. Kristy has performed several valuations on ILEC and CLEC operations, wireless operations, and CATV systems. She also executes historical financial analysis, financial forecasting, budgets, and feasibility studies. Her work has included the RUS Broadband and Traditional Loan programs and the USDA ReConnect and Community Connect Grant program, in addition to assisting clients obtain financing through CoBank and RTFC.

Kristy worked directly with the FCC’s auction system during several spectrum auctions (AWS and AWS-3, 700 MHz, and 600Mhz) by being an active bidder for several clients, filing FCC Short Form Applications (Form 175), and filing both FCC Forms 601 and 602 for winning clients. Kristy continues to work with the FCC on the wireless side by filing regulatory filings and license applications. Kristy has also been involved in securing grant funds for clients to build broadband networks in unserved and underserved areas under several State Grant Programs, including MN, NY, WI, MI, SD, IN, and IA to name a few.

Prior to entering the telecommunications industry in 2006, Kristy spent 10 years in banking and financing. During her tenure, Kristy worked with budgeting, rate forecasting, accounts payable, expense control and financial reporting reviews. She analyzed both personal and commercial financial statements. In addition, she gained valuable knowledge of lending processes. The in-depth accounting and financial experience she gained while in banking and financing brings a unique set of skills that are beneficial to the wide array of financial consulting projects within the telecommunications industry.

Kristy received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting from Dakota Wesleyan University (1995).  Prior to joining Vantage Point Solutions, Kristy was employed at First National Bank South Dakota. Kristy.Szabo@vantagepnt.com

Broadband 2020: Digital Office Hours: Partnership for a ConnectedMN

So much fun to hear about the opportunities made possible through ConnectedMN…

Partnership for a ConnectedMN

Partnership for a ConnectedMN is a brand new public-private partnership created in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the civic rest following the murder of George Floyd to help bring tech devices and internet access to students across the state, especially communities most in need, including students who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color, students from low-income families, and students residing in rural Minnesota.  As an initial step, on September 23  the Partnership announced that it had awarded $2.1 million in grants to 23 nonprofits serving the connectivity needs of an estimated 68,000 Minnesota students and their families. During this Office Hours session representatives from the Partnership of ConnectedMN – Best Buy, Blandin Foundation, Comcast, St. Paul and Minnesota Community Foundation, the Minnesota Business Partnership, and Connectivity — will talk about the Partnership’s plans to redress Minnesota’s growing digital divide and solicit ideas and input from participants.

Partnership member representatives participating include:

  • Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement, Blandin Foundation
  • Tiffany Kong, Program Officer, St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation
  • Jenny Kramm, Senior Consultant, Collectivity
  • Stacey Nelson-Kumar, Community Impact Director, Comcast
  • Andrea Riehl, Senior Manager, Best Buy Social Impact
  • Amy Walstien, Education Policy and Workforce Development Director, Minnesota Business Partnership

MN House 16B candidate Mindy Kimmel supports broadband

Montevideo American News features candidate profiles, including a feature on Mindy Kimmel, who is running for MN House 16B. She mentions broadband as a tool to promote economic development…

How as a state representative would you work to promote economic development?

Economic growth starts with supporting businesses and individuals in getting back to work. The smart approach includes ensuring rapid COVID testing is available as well as necessary protective equipment to keep workers safe. The Coronavirus pandemic highlighted many of the challenges that have been present for years. Lack of high speed broadband internet has prevented many students from distance learning and their parents from being able to work from home. Tying health insurance to employment resulted in those who were laid off losing the insurance for their families. I will work hard to ensure everyone has affordable healthcare regardless of employment status.

In race for District 6A in the Minnesota House of Representatives: Rep Sandstede promoted better broadband

Julie Sandstede and Rob Farnsworth are running for District 6A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Sandstede is the incumbent. WDIO reports on a recent look at both candidates. Rep Sandstede mentions broadband as a priority…

She said she decided to run for re-election because the work is not done. She wants to build out broadband to attract telecommuters to move north.

“We saw just a tremendous investment with Cliffs when they purchased Arcelor, and I think that there’s an opportunity with the Essar site, the Nashwauk site, to do some work there to bring some jobs in,” she said. “But we really need to be diversifying, we need to be inviting people. And it isn’t going to be big companies all the time. It could be smaller businesses.”

CTC gets $3 million from ReConnect

We’ve already recognized and celebrated the investment, but the official word is out

The Trump Administration today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $3 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Minnesota. This investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.

“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “I am so proud of our rural communities who have been working day in and day out, just like they always do, producing the food and fiber America depends on. We need them more than ever during these trying times, and expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.”

Consolidated Telephone Company will use a $3 million ReConnect grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network, which will connect 819 people, 34 businesses and 25 farms to high-speed broadband internet in Morrison County, Minnesota.

OPPORTUNITY: Applications open for Mytech’s Make a Difference IT Grant

I got the following announcement through the Nonprofit Tech Talk List…

MCN is pleased to support Mytech Partners’ Make a Difference Grant, an exciting opportunity for a nonprofit to receive three years of managed & professional IT services (up to a $250,000 value).
Mytech is accepting applications through November 20, 2020. All organizations will be judged based on their need, their technology vision, and their ability to capitalize on the value of our services. The winner and the top 4 finalists will be announced at an event on Thursday, December 10, 2020.
Learn more at https://mytech.com/grant/

Only caveat that will impact some readers – the nonprofit headquarters must be within one hour of the Twin Cities. There can be locations beyond that point – but headquartered within an hour of the TCs. You can contact them with questions.

Good luck!

Dakota County (MN) Board District 7 election: Mary Hamann-Roland supports broadband

The Twin Cities Pioneer Press outlines candidate profiles for a number of election, including Dakota County Board, where Mary Hamann-Roland is running against Chris Gerlach. Hamann-Roland mentioned broadband as a top priority; Gerlach responses were not available.

What would your top priorities be if elected?
Promote economical broadband development through collaborative public/private partnerships for reliability & speed: Tele-Education, Telemedicine, Telework, Tele-services. Prioritize people-focused transportation, including safe pedestrian and bicycle corridors. Champion parks, trails & open green space for well-being & quality of life.