Jan Keough receives Blandin Foundation Courageous Broadband Leader Award

I shared the live unveiling of the award last month during the broadband conference but each of the winners has worked hard and I didn’t do individual posts about each one so I’ll post these local announcements as I see them. This one comes from The Pine Journal

Jan Keough of Cloquet was presented with a Courageous Leadership Award at the 15th annual Blandin Foundation broadband conference, Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work, Oct. 8-9 at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minn. Keough was honored for her leadership and commitment to bring broadband connectivity to the eight townships of the Cloquet Valley Internet Initiative (CVII).

“Jan is emblematic of the citizen leaders in the Cloquet Valley and across the State of Minnesota who invest hundreds of hours on this community vitality issue on behalf of their neighbors,” Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation said in a news release. “Jane is truly an inspiration to our Blandin Foundation team.”

Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) receives Courageous Leadership Award

I shared the live unveiling of the award last month during the broadband conference but each of the winners has worked hard and I didn’t do individual posts about each one so I’ll post these local announcements as I see them. This one comes from the Jackson Pilot reports

A Jackson County-based multiple-municipality owned communications utility was recently presented with a prestigious leadership award  by the Blandin Foundation.

Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services received the Courageous Leadership Award at the 15th annual Blandin Foundation broadband conference last week in Nisswa. The SMBS Governing board was honored for its vision and multi-community collaboration in creating a public regional fiber network that serves residential and business customers in eight rural communities.

Blandin on Broadband eNews: MN Monthly Recap (Nov 2019): Notes from Fall Broadband Conference and more

MN Fall BB Conference – Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work
The Fall Broadband was a success. Attendees came to learn about economic development strategies, digital inclusion, local broadband leaders and more. Below are links to specific sessions:

ILSR Muninetworks’ Video Broadband Primer
Muninetworks is creating a multi-part series of videos to help community leaders and policymakers better understand broadband. https://wp.me/p3if7-5Bv

State Policy Issues

Federal Policy Issues

Research

Local Broadband News

Statewide
Broadband struggles in Greater Minnesota featured on TPT’s Almanac https://wp.me/p3if7-5Ai

Aitkin County
Aitkin Age recommends funding broadband to support seniors https://wp.me/p3if7-5Av

Info on Aitkin County’s $1.9 million in USDA funding for broadband https://wp.me/p3if7-5zY

Broadband a hot topic at Aitkin County Legislative Lunch https://wp.me/p3if7-5zH

Bemidji
Over 4,000 attend 2019 GigaZone Gaming Championship in Bemidji https://wp.me/p3if7-5BY

Chisago County
Chisago County broadband advocate Nancy Hoffman receives Courageous Leadership Award https://wp.me/p3if7-5AW

Granite Falls
Senator Smith talks about broadband in Granite Falls and Montevideo https://wp.me/p3if7-5Al

Greenwood Township
Feasibility study is first step to better broadband in Greenwood MN (St Louis County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5Cf

Lincoln County
Lincoln County Board renews their membership in the MN Broadband Coalition https://wp.me/p3if7-5Aa

Meeker County (and others)
Meeker Coop deploys Vibrant Broadband Meeker and parts of McLeod, Kandiyohi, Stearns, Wright and Renville counties https://wp.me/p3if7-5xJ

Montevideo
Senator Smith talks about broadband in Granite Falls and Montevideo https://wp.me/p3if7-5Al

Monticello
Monticello receives prestigious award for broadband leadership from Blandin Foundation https://wp.me/p3if7-5Ad

Morcom Township
Morcom Township (St Louis County) hopes for a MN broadband grant https://wp.me/p3if7-5y5

New Ulm
New Ulm Medical Center’s birth center is simulating telehealth procedures https://wp.me/p3if7-5BS

Prairie Island Indian Community
Prairie Island Indian Community now enjoys Gig access through HBC https://wp.me/p3if7-5xM

Rushford
MiEnergy Cooperative hosts legislative discuss in Rushford on topics including broadband https://wp.me/p3if7-5As

St Cloud
Google brings workshops for entrepreneurs to St. Cloud https://wp.me/p3if7-5zT

St Joseph
Gigabit service now offered in St. Joseph (Stearns County) https://wp.me/p3if7-5zK

Windom
Windomnet gets Courageous Broadband Leadership Award from Blandin Foundation https://wp.me/p3if7-5BN

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

We are looking to add MN broadband-related events to the Blandin on Broadband blog calendar. https://wp.me/P3if7-4yG If you have an event you’d like to add please send it to atreacy@treacyinfo.com

Stirring the Pot – by Bill Coleman

Maine and Minnesota share many characteristics, including water and ice and rocks and trees.  While attending the Maine Broadband Summit, I learned that Maine also has a unique organization leading on rural broadband promotion.  The Island Institute has been active in helping rural Maine communities implement broadband solutions.  They have created some nice materials that can be found at www.islandinstitute.org/broadband. The primary constituency of the Institute are island-based communities of which Maine has many.

I also learned about Maine’s rather unique form of local government.  Towns include both urbanized and the surrounding rural areas while county government is limited.  Most local government decisions, including the annual budget, are made at annual town meetings through direct democracy similar to Minnesota’s townships.  The State of Maine has only a small broadband funding program that can only close small funding gaps. Because Maine looks a lot like northeastern Minnesota, last mile wireless is not an effective solution in most towns, so aerial FTTH is the primary infrastructure of choice.  For Maine’s islands, wireless is often used as the middle mile backbone solution as an affordable option to undersea cable.

The lack of state funding puts the onus on Maine’s towns to be more self-reliant and be the primary source of rural broadband government funding.  Because the towns include both urbanized and rural geography, most projects cover the entire town, including overbuilding any existing ISPs that may just be serving the urbanized area.  Most projects involve a private sector partner that operates the network with network ownership varying by community.  Most communities were just folding the bond payments into their existing property tax levy though the examples ran the gamut of possibilities, including funding raised by a small group of private citizens. The general result is ubiquitous quality broadband with some enhanced competition.  Community broadband partners include both privately-held independent telephone companies and entrepreneurial small ISPs.  The projects that I heard about had been approved overwhelmingly at the annual town meetings.

I think that Minnesota communities could learn from these Mainers that broadband is something that local communities can accomplish using local resources.  We know that most Border to Border applications will be rejected since there is only $20 million available for projects totaling $70 million.  Knowing that there is another $20 million in 2020 is not reassuring as even more projects emerge.

Time is now the enemy for unconnected places. They are already paying a harsh penalty measured in jobs, education, health care and quality of life.  Like interest on unpaid debts, this penalty will continue to compound.  Don’t wait!

Windomnet gets Courageous Broadband Leadership Award from Blandin Foundation

I shared the live unveiling last week during the broadband conference but each of the winners has worked hard and I didn’t do individual posts about each one so I’ll post these local announcements as I see them. This one comes from KEYC Mankato News

Jeff Dahna is the General Manager of WindomNet, Windom’s Internet provider.

This month, Windomnet was recognized with a Courageous Leadership Award from the Blandin Foundation for their leadership in Broadband.

Windom became the state’s first city to operate a municipal fiber-to-the-home network between 2004 and 2005.

Now, schools are able to use Broadband Internet to help students complete homework at home online.

Medical facilities can take advantage of telemedicine opportunities.

And Broadband Internet provides opportunities for residents, like Dahna, to work from home.

“Instead of having to travel for two hours, you can take something in 20 minutes and have it completed, that might, you’d have to travel to work.”

Here’s a video of the award from the conference…

Chisago County broadband advocate receives Courageous Leadership Award

I shared the live unveiling last week during the broadband conference but each of the winners has worked hard and I didn’t do individual posts about each one so I’ll post these local announcements as I see them. This one comes from County News Review

Chisago County broadband advocate Nancy Hoffman was presented with a Courageous Leadership Award at the 15th annual Blandin Foundation broadband conference, Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work, held last week at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.

Hoffman was honored for her consistent and positive work in promoting broadband access and use in Benton and Chisago counties and for her generous leadership of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition.

“Nancy is emblematic of the citizen leaders across the State of Minnesota who invest hundreds of hours on this challenging and critical community vitality issue on behalf of their neighbors,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation. “Nancy is truly an inspiration to Blandin Foundation and to her fellow broadband leaders throughout the state.”

Courageous Leadership Awards were created by Blandin Foundation to recognize and celebrate acts of leadership that have significantly contributed to the vibrancy of rural Minnesota communities.

Hoffman has been the executive director at Chisago County Housing and Redevelopment Authority – Economic Development Authority since 2012. In that role, she has been the key facilitator of successful township broadband projects by providing logistical and financial support. She also led Chisago Lakes efforts to become a finalist in the nationwide America’s Best Communities competition.

“Broadband is an essential infrastructure for a vital economy,” Hoffman said. “Legislators, local official and residents now have an understanding of the importance for broadband from border to border in Minnesota. Great strides have been made and the momentum is there to finish the job.”

Hoffman was honored alongside 11 other awardees at the conference who all have taken courageous action to bring the benefits of broadband to their communities.

“All of these individuals, organizations and communities knew early on what many communities are just now realizing – that broadband access, and the skills to use it, are fundamental for strong economies, leading-edge education and healthcare, and a high quality of life,” said Joselyn.

Here’s a video on the event:

Monticello receives prestigious award for broadband leadership from Blandin Foundation

I suspect I’ll see a few more of the Blandin Broadband award announcements. I shared the live unveiling last week during the broadband conference but each of the winners has worked hard and I didn’t do individual posts about each one so I’ll post these local announcements as I see them. This one comes from the Monticello Times

 A state leader in broadband initiatives has recognized the City of Monticello for its support of FiberNet.

The Blandin Foundation recognized the City of Monticello with its Courageous Leadership Award. Monticello was recognized for its early recognition of the importance of telecommunications to its economic future and for its perseverance in deploying a fiber-optic network, FiberNet, that has transformed the city’s technology capabilities, Blandin officials stated.

The recgonition was made in Nisswa at the 15th annual Blandin Foundation broadband conference.

“Thanks to this municipally-owned fiber-to-the-home network, the City of Monticello has transitioned from a poorly connected community to one of the top connected communities in the nation,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation.

“Monticello leaders never wavered in their belief that access to broadband is essential to everything from economic vitality to quality of life,” Joselyn said.

Monticello City Administrator Jeff O’Neill accepted the award on behalf of the City of Monticello.

“Vitality can’t be divided between urban and rural; all communities deserve the tools necessary to thrive in the modern world,” O’Neill said.

 

Closing Remarks for 2019 MN Broadband Conference #MNBroadband Conference

Thank you to everyone who made the 15th MN Broadband conference a success – that means the planners, presenters, sponsors, exhibitor, attendees and folks who participated online.

I think Bernadine’s recap is particularly good this year:

Links to all of the sessions:

Some pictures from that pretty amazing timeline – after I’ve had some sleep, I will try to do more with it.