About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Fiber brings Delta Dental to Bemidji and smile to 150 new jobs

The Bemidji Pioneer reports that Delta Dental is coming to Bemidji…

A regional nonprofit company has selected Bemidji for a new $12-to-$13 million development that will create up to 150 jobs.

Delta Dental of Minnesota announced Friday it will break ground in Bemidji for a new operations and technology center. According to a press release, the new center is expected to open by the end of 2019 and the completion will make Delta Dental one of the top 10 employers in the city.

Fiber was one of the reasons Delta went with Bemidji…

“They went through a broad process. For a time, the company was anonymous and did an assessment of several regional centers throughout Minnesota,” Hengel said. “Bemidji submitted a blind proposal because we didn’t know what the company was at the time. We shared what we believed to be our assets and what would matter to the company. It earned us a site visit and made them really consider Bemidji in a serious way.”

One of the reasons Hengel said Delta Dental was interested in the community was the fiber optic network in place by Paul Bunyan Communications. Others included access to a talent pool with educational resources and the combined focus on the future by business and community leadership.

I was lucky enough to spend time talking to folks in Bemidji about their broadband access for a report on the return on investment of broadband last year. One of the lessons was that a community generally sees a return on investment (in greater opportunity, cost savings and increased value in property) but the provider doesn’t always reap the benefits as quickly. Here’s an example of where Paul Bunyan has helped the community and itself by investing enough to catch a fish like Delta.

Community Connect Grant Program application window for FY 2018

The USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) recently announced their latest community connect grants

The purpose of the Community Connect Grant Program is to provide financial assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants that will provide service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all premises in currently unserved, lower-income, and extremely rural areas. RUS will give priority to rural areas that demonstrate the greatest need for broadband services, based on the criteria contained herein.

Here are a couple key points:

  • minimum grant request amount of $100,000 and a maximum grant request amount of $3,000,000 per application for FY 2018.
  • Submission due May 14, 2018

You can get the details from the Federal Register. Good luck!

Minnesota Rural Equity Project looks rural issues – including broadband

The Bemidji Pioneer reports on Minnesota Rural Equity Project…

Growth and Justice, in a combined effort with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the Greater Minnesota Partnership and the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition, are pushing the Minnesota Rural Equity Project. The work identifies legislative priorities for revitalizing local economies and reducing disparities in Greater Minnesota.

And their work in broadband (and other interests)…

As to infrastructure, the Minnesota Rural Equity Project is focusing on transportation as well as utilities such as broadband internet. According to the project’s research, 47.12 percent of households in rural Minnesota lack access to broadband. The MREP is pushing the state to extend its grant program for broadband and make it more accessible.

“We need to put our heads together and collaborate the best we can to not only meet immediate needs, but to plan across the board for the inevitable infrastructure maintenance and upgrades,” Leonard said. “From broadband to water, we’ve decided over time that these are necessities and we need to find ways to keep them updated and safe. We have to muster the political will to do that for today and our kids and grandkids.”

Leonard again referenced Bemidji as having a model that the state can use in expanding broadband, citing the work of Paul Bunyan Communications.

Border to border broadband grant (HF3002) discussion in committee meeting March 20

Here are the details. I’ll be there taking notes (at least for the broadband discussion)…


Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

3:00 PM to 4:45 PM

10 State Office Building

Committee Chair:

Rep. Pat Garofalo


Overview of Minnesota utility and energy prices and historical trends

HF2867 (Quam)
Workforce Development Board membership terms prescribed.
HF3002 (Garofalo)
Border to border broadband grant program eligibility modified.
HF3760 (Wagenius)
Public school district grant program to install solar energy systems established, and money appropriated.

HF3232 (O’Neill)

Solar energy incentive program modified.
HF3763 (Layman)
Douglas J. Johnson economic protection trust fund use limited.

Overview of Minnesota utility and energy prices and historical trends

Gov Dayton’s proposes $30 million for broadband for 2018-2019

Today Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget. It includes $30 million for the Border to Border Broadband grants for 2018-2019.

This compares to the House Bill (HF3527) introduced appropriating $51 million (for biennium) and Senate Bill (SF2787) that has been moved to the Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee.

Webinar Archive (Mar 15): Is the BBC Program Right for You?

Thanks to all those who attended:

Webinar – March 15 from 3-4pm
Is the BBC Program Right for You?

Blandin Foundation is now accepting applications for four new Blandin Broadband Communities, a program that supports rural community efforts to improve both access to and use of broadband that enhance community vitality.  Through a leadership development, vision and planning process, community leaders set priorities and develop strategies and projects to move their community forward. Learn more about about BBC application.

Join Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors and Blandin Foundation’s Mary Magnuson to learn more about the BBC program, including program processes requirements, grant opportunities, and the application process.

In 10 years the digital economy grew 5.6% compared to overall economic growth of 1.5%

The Bureau of Economic Analysis just released a report – an inaugural report on the digital economy – Defining and Measuring the Digital Economy.

The working paper set out to do a few things – define the digital economy, measure it and create conversations to move measurement and research forward.

Here are some of the economic highlights from the report:

  • Digital economy real value added grew at an average annual rate of 5.6 percent, outpacing the average annual rate of growth for the overall economy of 1.5 percent
  • In 2016, digital economy real (inflation‐ adjusted) value added totaled $1,302.2 billion, 82.2 percent larger than it was in 2005.
  • During this economic recovery, prices for digital economy good and services decreased at an average annual rate of 0.4 percent (chart 8). Prices for all goods and services in the economy increased at an average annual rate of 1.5 percent.
  • Workers in the digital economy earned average annual compensation of $114,275 compared to the economy‐wide average of $66,498.

The report also set out to define the digital economy. There has been a push for a better way to measure the economic impact of broadband for at least a year. I think this is a good first step. Here’s a brief take on what they did..

Conceptually, a digital economy satellite account should include all goods and services related to the digital economy. However, the preliminary estimates presented here are based on goods and services that are primarily digital. There are numerous challenges to estimating the economic contribution of “partially‐digital” goods and services which are laid out in this report. These challenges are opportunities for future research to expand these early estimates into a complete digital economy satellite account.

They have included things like digital‐enabling infrastructure (hardware, networks) but not peer-to-peer economy such as Uber. So I think there are ways to improve on their definition – but they do too. In fact, they ask for feedback!