Pursuing Broadband: Case studies of improved broadband #MNBoadband Conference

This session will improve community leaders’ ability to make smart decisions and build partnerships to improve broadband access.

Climbing the Digital Use Ladder: Digital inclusion, adoption, and innovation #MNBoadband Conference

There are two essential parts of a broadband plan – having it and using it. This session will focus on how to use it specifically by hearing from folks around Minnesota who have been creative about getting their community to make better use of broadband. We’ll see demonstrations and hear stories from the following…

Blandin Broadband Awards Presentation Pt #MNBroadband Conference

Congrats to the awardees (part one) and thank you for your service!

Paul Bergman

This award is made in posthumous recognition of the Courageous Leadership of Paul Bergman, whose vision for a broadband-enabled future for Lake County brought modern access to the Internet to the residents of the county he loved. Paul served as County Commissioner from 2007 until his death in 2013.

  • In 2008, Lake County leaders began exploring solutions to address the region’s lack of connectivity, recognizing it as a public safety, economic development, and quality of life issue.
  • Paul Bergman was an early champion of bringing a fiber-to-the-home network to the people of Lake County. He understood that the county’s future depended on it.
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 emerged as an opportunity to improve Internet access and the county was ready.

As a businessman, Paul was known for his good will and humor and his signature of honesty and fairness. He had a gift for bringing out the best in others. These good traits prompted voters to elect Paul to represent District 4 on the Lake County Board of Commissioners. It was a job that he loved. At the time of his death, Paul was serving his second term in office.

Today, Lake Connections, is a 1,200-mile fiber network across Lake County and parts of eastern St. Louis County operated by Zito Media in what has to be some of Minnesota’s most rugged and difficult territory for broadband deployment. It is delivering a myriad of benefits to county businesses and residents.

Jan Keough

This Courageous Leadership Award is presented to Jan Keough for the leadership and commitment she has shown to the now eight townships of the Cloquet Valley Internet Initiative over the near decades-long struggle to bring broadband connectivity to her rural region due north of Duluth.

Jan’s steadfast positive outlook and consistent efforts to work with incumbent and prospective providers alike has allowed this initiative to continue forward, even as providers have failed to deliver on their promises. Hope again is on the rise as the area electric cooperative has submitted an application for fiber-to-the-home deployment across the area.

Jan is emblematic of citizen leaders in the Cloquet Valley and across the State of Minnesota who invest hundreds of hours on this challenging, but critical community vitality issue on behalf of their neighbors. Jan is an inspiration to the Blandin Foundation Broadband team, her neighbors and colleagues.

Lac qui Parle County and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company

For their vision and innovative partnership that brought fiber optic communications to more than 1700 rural farms and businesses providing a model that has now been replicated in multiple rural Minnesota counties.

  • In 2010, approximately 52 percent of all Lac qui Parle residential properties and business properties still depended on dial-up or satellite.
  • In 2008, the county’s economic development authority formed a Broadband Steering Committee to study options with the support of a Blandin Foundation broadband feasibility study.
  • In 2009, Lac qui Parle partnered with Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, a local telephone cooperative, to expand Internet access. The County and Farmers were awarded a $9.6 million federal grant in August 2010.

City of Monticello

This Courageous Leadership Award is presented to the City of Monticello for its early recognition of the importance of telecommunications to its economic future and for its perseverance in deploying a fiber optic network that has transformed the city’s local Internet environment.

  • In 2005, in response to business and resident complaints about slow, unreliable Internet access and overly expensive telecommunications services, the City Council appointed a Task Force to investigate options for the community.
  • In a referendum in 2007, 74 percent of voters supported creation of a municipally owned network.
  • Despite a disruptive lawsuit by an incumbent provider, the city forged on and today, FiberNet Monticello delivers affordable high-quality broadband services in a highly competitive local marketplace.

FiberNet has dramatically increased available speeds and reliability, improving Monticello’s ability to support innovative business practices and attract and retain knowledge workers. 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.

RS Fiber

This Courageous Leadership Award is presented to the members and Board of Directors of RS Fiber for their unwavering commitment, courage and innovative approach that launched a new broadband cooperative providing fiber optic connectivity to residents in ten communities and robust wireless services to farms and rural residents across multiple counties resulting in more competitive enterprises and new community development opportunities.

Today, with a vision of “Enriching the Lives of our Rural Communities,” RS Fiber is a community-owned, community- driven network bringing high-speed, low-cost broadband services to more than 2,200 customers in Renville, Sibley, McLeod and Nicollet Counties … and still growing.

RS Fiber received the League of Minnesota Cities’ “City of Excellence Award” in 2016 for their collaboration in working to bring high-speed broadband Internet to their communities. The winning award entry stated: “The cities developed grassroots support for the project by hosting more than 150 meetings and by personally contacting hundreds of residents, local businesses, and government officials.”

Throughout the long and arduous process of creating RS Fiber, the leaders have remained steadfast in their commitment to build a fiber network to every farm and home; with no one left behind.

City of Windom

This Courageous Leadership Award is presented to the City of Windom for vision and perseverance to construct and operate Minnesota’s first municipal fiber-to-the-home network and its support of regional broadband via Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services.

  • Well into the 1990s, the quality of available internet service in Windom was poor. Community frustration was on the rise.
  • Community leaders did not quit after a failed vote to build a municipal network in 1999; the community rallied with a successful ballot initiative in 2002.
  • The network build began in 2004, making Windom the first city in Minnesota to own and operate a competitive municipal citywide fiber-to-the-home network.
  • In 2007 WindomNet began to collaborate with eight other communities to form Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services.
  • Windom was a Blandin partner in both Get Broadband and Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities programs to spur technology sophistication in the community.

This investment has brought multiple benefits to the community: WindomNet has been critical to retaining anchor employers; it has spurred job growth and facilitated adoption by local health care providers of cost-effective tele-medicine applications.

Christopher Mitchell

This Courageous Leadership Award is presented to Christopher Mitchell for his research, advocacy and leadership at the national level on behalf of community broadband networks, via public sector ownership and cooperatives, as the best strategy for maximizing community benefits from broadband network development.

  • Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance where he researches and publicizes the benefits of community-owned broadband systems.
  • Honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology nationally by Government Technology magazine.
  • Created and leads MuniNetworks.org, a comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about community broadband.  Chris is also policy director at Next Century Cities, a national community broadband advocacy organization.

Chris’s tireless work to document and share stories about the value of public networks has inspired many community broadband champions across the nation.

Mind the Gap: The Intelligent Community Movement #MNBroadband Conference

John Jung, Co-founder and Board President, Intelligent Community Forum

Intelligent Communities combine the power of broadband-enabled communications networks with collaborative cross-sector leadership to develop and implement sophisticated and inclusive community development strategies. Empowering citizens, businesses and organizations to make effective use of technology tools leads to a growing local economy with a high quality of life. Intelligent Community Forum co-founder John Jung will showcase best practices in community leadership and development from around the world.

Thank you MN Broadband Summit Exhibitors 2019 #MNBroadband

I want to send out a big thanks to the exhibitors of the 2019 broadband summit – Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work. It’s an eclectic group – so something for everyone and if you come to the conference you’ll get a chance to meet them and win some prizes with Broadband Bingo.

See you tomorrow! Can’t make it to Nisswa? We’ll be livestreaming.

203 8th Ave; Defiance, IA 51527
Brian Trader, Territory Sales Manager
(712) 307-2803
Adtran is a networking and access gear system company with many facets of access.  We have have been around since 1983 and believe in hardware and software that is SOLID and lasting.

BorealCorps Story Scouts
PO Box 301; Grand Marais, MN 55604
Anne Brataas, Editor and Publisher of Child Authors’ Community Media
BorealCorps is a Cook County-based kids’ entrepreneurial writing club specializing in digital storytelling. We are Story Scouts committed to amplifying the voices and impacts of rural youth by connecting people of all ages, and creating community through reporting stories in digital and print newspapers told from a child’s eye view in words, pictures, video and sound. Begun with a Blandin Broadband Innovation Grant in 2017, we are now supported by Minnesota Children’s Press.

2777 Orchard Parkway; San Jose, CA 95134
Bret McElwee, Regional Sales Manager
Calix is the leading provider of the cloud, software platforms, systems and services required to deliver the unified access network and smart premises of tomorrow.

DPS = Emergency Communication Networks
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1725; St. Paul, MN 55101
Melinda Miller, Program Manager, Wireless Broadband
(651) 201-7554
The Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Communication Networks is involved in oversight of the public safety networks and programs used in MN to support first responders.  The networks include 911, Wireless Broadband – Public Safety Broadband Network, IPAWS – Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, and the ARMER Radio Network.  The Wireless Broadband Program has an interest in seeing coverage expand in rural MN because it only strengthens the access for public safety users like fire departments, local sheriff’s, and county 911 Centers.

Finley Engineering Company, Inc.
1981 Engebretson Street; Slayton, MN 56172
Ben Humphrey, Vice President
Mark Mrla, Director
Christopher Konechne

Whether you’re a rural electric cooperative, a city, a county, telecommunications or another organization exploring fiber opportunities, your goal is the same: find the optimal way to bring high-speed broadband to your community.  When you partner with Finley, you’ll experience an approach to network design and deployment that is as unique as your business.

We take the time to understand the entire landscape of your business needs and strategic direction, from your structure and tolerance for risk to unique requirements and expected outcomes. Then we work with you to find the best solution “fit” on all fronts: business, financial and technical.

For us, it’s not just consulting. It’s a partnership. We become a trusted extension of your team.

Growth & Justice
970 Ramond Avenue, Suite 201; St. Paul, MN 55114
Jane Leonard, President
(651) 917-6037
Growth & Justice is a nonprofit organization that develops public policy recommendations for community and economic development progress based on independent research and extensive community engagement; we believe when Minnesotans make smart investments in practical solutions it leads to broader prosperity for all.

For nearly two decades we have worked to connect and unite Minnesotans around one simple philosophy: widespread economic opportunity and greater economic and social justice lead to a thriving, vital future for all of us. This includes advocacy for inclusive broadband infrastructure development and digital economy equity across our state.

Kairos Alive!
4316 Upton Ave. South #206; Minneapolis, MN 55410
Maria Genné, MEd, Founder/Director/Teaching Artist
Kairos Alive! is a social impact organization powered by the performing arts. Kairos was created by dancer / choreographer / educator Maria Genné in 1999, with her vision to share the joy of intergenerational interactive participatory dance, music and theater, and to liberate its power to nurture and heal. Kairos’ pioneering, national award-winning programs were featured in the PBS documentary, Arts and the Mind, and are recognized as model involvement programs by the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Public Health Association and the American Society on Aging.

Kairos’ Choreography of Care™ programs promote personal and community wellbeing through its Intergenerational Dance Hall™ public participation events, Dancing Heart™ weekly programming, our Community Arts and Wellbeing™ Residencies, and Moving Well™ arts and health training. We have strong interactive participatory online/distance learning programming, including Dancing Heart™ Live! weekly sessions.

Through short-term residencies, ongoing workshops, weekly distance interactive learning sessions via web technology and performances, Kairos artists invite participants to experience the interweaving of dance, music and theater, to redefine their beliefs about their physical and artistic abilities and possibilities of creative connections and community building. Kairos Alive! seeks to create teaching and learning communities based in artistic creation and the latest arts/health research, and to join as creative collaborators in developing programs and performances for diverse communities across Minnesota.

Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition
125 Charles Avenue; St. Paul, MN 55103
Nancy Hoffman, Chair
(651) 674-9979
The Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition is a membership group of local units of government, elected officials, economic development agencies, educational institutions, health care organizations, telecommunications organizations, non-profits, individuals and more who advocate at the State Capitol for better broadband in rural Minnesota.

Department of Employment & Economic Development (MN DEED)
Office of Broadband Development
1st National Bank Building; 332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200; St. Paul, MN 55101
The Office of Broadband Development at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED) is the central broadband planning agency for the state. The office advises policy-makers on broadband related issues; measures and monitors broadband access statewide, including producing maps showing areas with and without access;  administers the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program; tracks connectivity needs of community anchor institutions such as K-12 schools, libraries, and healthcare providers; helps to identify and remove barriers to broadband deployment; surveys digital literacy and inclusion issues and opportunities; monitors federal policies and programs that impact Minnesota; acts as a clearinghouse for information on broadband funding sources and other resources, works with communities to help find solutions to their identified gaps, and provides administrative support to the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

Thank you MN Broadband Summit Sponsors 2019 #MNBroadband

A big thanks to the amazing groups that are sponsoring the 2019 MN Broadband Conference – Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work!

See you tomorrow! Can’t make it to Nisswa? We’ll be livestreaming.

Platinum Sponsor:

  • Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation – A unique State of Minnesota economic development agency located in Eveleth, Minnesota. Their mission is to promote and invest in business, community and workforce development for the betterment of northeastern Minnesota. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation provides vital funding, including low or no interest loans and grants for businesses relocating or expanding in the region. Additionally, a variety of grants are available to local units of government, education institutions, and nonprofits that promote workforce development and sustainable communities.

Gold Sponsors:

  • ADTRAN – Adtran is a networking and access gear system company with many facets of access.  We have have been around since 1983 and believe in hardware and software that is SOLID and lasting.
  • Benton Institute for Broadband & Society – Benton believes that communications policy—rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity—has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides. Their goal is to bring open, affordable, high-capacity broadband to all people in the U.S. to ensure a thriving democracy.  (Check out their resources!)
  • Calix – Calix platforms empower our customers to build new business models, rapidly deploy new services and make the promise of the smart home and business a reality.
  • CTC – CTC offers state-of-the-art technology to homes and businesses in Central Minnesota. With our fiber optic network, CTC can offer our members the TV, phone, and Internet along with business phone systems and services. CTC has a unique history and we invite you to learn more about our cooperative.
  • Finley Engineering – Established in 1953, Finley Engineering is a multi-disciplined organization offering professional engineering and consulting services to the telecommunications, IP and electric power industries.
  • Initiative Foundation – The Initiative Foundation works daily to strengthen the economy and communities of Central Minnesota. They believe that local people have the greatest sum of initiative, knowledge and relationships to achieve a brighter future.
  • Northland Foundation – The Northland Foundation is a publicly supported foundation serving seven northeastern Minnesota counties: Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, and St. Louis, and all or parts of five Tribal Nations within the same geographic boundaries: Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Through grantmaking, an operating program, business lending, and special initiatives, we help people and communities in our region to move forward together.
  • The Northwest Minnesota Foundation invests resources, facilitates collaboration and promotes philanthropy to make the region a better place to live and work.Northwest Minnesota Foundation –
  • PCs for People – Through electronic reuse PCs for People provides the opportunity for all low-income individuals and nonprofits to benefit from the life changing impact of computers and mobile internet.
  • Sourcewell – For over 40 years, Sourcewell has helped government, education, and nonprofit agencies operate more efficiently. We help them save time and money with contract purchasing solutions that are solicited nationally.
  • Southwest Initiative Foundation – Our mission is connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities.
  • West Central Initiative – For many years, West Central Initiative embraces the identity of both a philanthropic and a planning organization. This decision affirms the tremendous value of planning and aligns our charitable purpose with the needs in our region.

Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work for Digital Equity – Oct 8-10

A message from the Blandin Foundation…

You’re Invited!

October 8-10, 2019
Grand View Lodge – Nisswa, MN



Please join us October 8-10, at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa for our annual broadband conference, Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work.

Broadband is a powerful tool for innovation, and we’re going to show you how to best use it to improve quality of life and increase community vitality.

We’ll start with a fast-paced show and tell session where 12 practitioners will show you how they are maximizing the benefits of broadband. Expect to hear about big gaming (for money!), virtual reality, turning a laundromat into a digital information center, and more. Then we’ll take a closer look at how broadband technologies are transforming healthcare, education, and precision agriculture.

You’ll get an opportunity to mix and mingle with presenters and attendees. Pick up some ideas, and start some new partnerships!

Check out the conference website for more details.

Register Today!

Join policymakers, economic and community development professionals, and community broadband champions from across the state for this annual opportunity to Learn, Connect, and Engage.

We hope to see you there!

Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work: Agenda is out!

Have you  marked your calendar? Registered?

Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work
Oct 8-10
Grand View Lodge 
Register Here!

It’s going to be a great conference and the agenda was just announced. Here are some of the highlights…

  •  Keynote Presentation John Jung, Co-founder and Board President, Intelligent  Pursuing Broadband Case studies of improved broadband
  • Climbing the Digital Use Ladder Digital inclusion
  • Young Leaders panel presentation Moderated by: Jacki Anderson, Office of Rep. Collin Peterson Whitney Ridlon, MN Dept of Iron Range Resources and
  • Rehabilitation  All Things Fiber and Wireless
  • Intelligent Community Benchmarking Workshop John Jung, Intelligent Community Forum
  • Trends in deployment; advice to communities
  • Tech-Transformed Education Moderated by Marc Johnson, East Central MN Educational Cable Cooperative
  • Conducting a Successful Broadband Feasibility Study
  • Tech-Transformed Health Care
  • From Feasibility Forward – Broadband Project Development
  • Tech-Transformed Agriculture speakers to be announced
  • Plenary Presentation Andy Spurgeon, Chief of Operations, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA)
  • Special Performance Dan Witkowski, Founder, President and Chief Magician, MagicCom
  • Plenary Presentation Casey Sorensen, CEO, PCs for People
  • Tech-Enabled Approaches to Attracting Businesses and People
  • Closing the Digital Divide in Your Community
    Supporting Freelancers – Tech-based Entrepreneurship and Telework
    Incorporating Cultural Awareness into Tech Training
    Representing the Digitally UnderRepresented in Economic Development
  • Tech for Older Adults – Tools for Health and Social Engagement
  • Keynote Presentation Christopher Mitchell, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Register Now: Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work

Register Now: Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work
October 8-10
Grand View Lodge – Nisswa MN

Please join us October 8-10, at the gorgeous Grand View Lodge in Nisswa for our annual broadband conference, Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work. Broadband access today is as varied as communities across Minnesota. Some enjoy a gig, others are working hard for any service, and the rest are somewhere in between. This conference is for all communities, regardless of where they are on the spectrum – because we’ve learned that having broadband isn’t enough. It takes inspiration, encouragement and guidance to reap the full benefits. We’ll be talking about how to make the most of what you’ve got and/or get more.

This year’s conference will shine a light on local broadband heroes as well as look at several aspects of broadband:

  • Getting Connected
  • Community Vitality
  • Economic Development
  • Digital Equity

Check out the conference website for more details, including the preliminary agenda. (Or learn about opportunities to sponsor or exhibit.)

Register Today!

Join policymakers, economic and community development professionals, and community broadband champions from across the state for this annual opportunity to learn, connect, and engage.

We hope to see you there!

Exhibit at or Sponsor the MN Fall Broadband conference: Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work?

We’re starting to get excited for the Fall Broadband Conference!  Have you been wondering how you could get more involved with the conference? There are opportunities for sponsorship or to become an exhibitor.

The conference is always well regarded. Generally, 125-150 community leaders come to learn more about broadband-fueled strategies.

Sponsor ships start at $1,000 and exhibitors at $500. Learn more.

Save the Date Oct 8-10 – MN Fall Broadband Conference – Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work

Got broadband? Join us to make the most of it. Need broadband? We can help with that too! Our goal is to challenge and inspire community champions from across Minnesota. We will showcase examples of broadband-enabled economic and community development and celebrate the community leaders whose hard work and vision we have to thank.

This three-day conference at the beautiful Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN will offer learning and engagement on many aspects of the challenges and benefits of broadband access and use, from “Pursuing Broadband 101,” to digital inclusion tools and strategies for diverse audiences, to examples of tech-transformed health care, education, and Ag, to case studies of improved community broadband.  Providers will discuss trends in deployments and offer advice to communities. Blandin Foundation will recognize community leaders who, since these annual conferences began fifteen years ago, have lead the way to better broadband.  Besides panel discussions, presentations, and demonstrations, we will hear directly from millennials about how they decide where to live and work, and there will be some magic.

It’s a great time to network with people who can help you put broadband to work. It’s a great place to bring leaders from your community who could use a little inspiration to recognize the power of broadband.