South Central & Southeast Regional Broadband Conference Notes & Video

It’s been a great day of broadband conversations around the state. Three regional broadband conferences happened today and I’ll post on each separately. (There will be eight regional meetings leading up to statewide fall conference Oct 12-14.)

There were 40-50 people in attendance. The run of the day:

  • A panel on Mapping the Broadband Challenge looked at broadband maps and data collected by DEED’s Office of Broadband Development, the South East Minnesota League of Municipalities and the Minnesota Broadband Coalition.
  • Two regional initiatives talked about how to advance broadband-fueled economic and community development in the region: Red Wing Ignite and the Le Sueur County Broadband Initiative.
  • Ended with an exercise to prioritize broadband opportunities in this region, and talk about next steps.

Here are the presentations:

And chat from the day. The chat includes attendee introductions but also any resources share or questions… Continue reading

EVENT Sep 16: Regional Broadband Summit

From the Land

A regional broadband summit will be offered as a virtual event 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Conference speakers include representatives from Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, Red Wing Ignite and Le Sueur County’s Broadband Initiative. Participants will discuss access and adoption, regional prioritization and how to use American Recovery Act funds for broadband investments.

Register at:

This is a regional event, leading up to the Fall Broadband Conference.

EVENT Sep 16: West Central Initiative’s Broadening Our Broadband

More info from the Perham Focus on West Central Initiative’s Broadening Our Broadband Regional event, which is part of a series of regional events happening before the Fall (online) Broadband Conference…

West Central Initiative will host Broadening Our Broadband, a discussion featuring a panel of rural broadband industry professionals and policy experts, on Thursday, Sept. 16, at 11 a.m. via Zoom.

The panel will focus on imagining new possibilities that come with enhanced broadband access, learning how communities can prepare for potential future funding opportunities and hearing how the region can leverage broadband access to better support students, businesses and communities. You can register for the event at

“High-speed internet access is fundamental to vibrant rural communities,” said Anna Wasescha, West Central Initiative president. “It supports economic development, high-quality health care, equitable education, and more. Broadband discussions … are particularly important in helping to form our region’s long-term, comprehensive broadband implementation strategy. Broadband is no longer a want—it’s a need.”

The panel will feature:

  • Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation;
  • Greg Wagner, director of business and economic development at West Central Initiative;
  • Diane Wells, deputy director of the Office of Broadband Development at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development;
  • Amy Baldwin, community development director for Otter Tail County;
  • Todd Johnson, Traverse County Commissioner;
  • Ann Treacy, owner and founder of Treacy Information Services and researcher and contributor to the Blandin on Broadband blog

EVENTS MN Broadband Pre-Conference Regional Events

I’ve been posting about the Fall Broadband Conference (Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress) for a while. It’ll be a virtual event Oct 12-14 and we’re hoping it will be very interactive. If you have a conversion you’d like to have us host, a story of success to share or a cool tool to demonstration – please let us know.

Leading up to the conference there will be a series of regional events, supported by the Blandin Foundation but hosted by local organizations. I’ve started to post some invitations and some invitations are upcoming but I figured I’d do one framing post – that’s I’ll try to keep updated as the local invitations role in. (I’ll also post those invitations separately.)

Each event will be unique, as each region is unique, but we’re looking for commonalities among the group and areas where we can learn, borrow or build from each other. One day of the Statewide Fall conference, we’ll try to pull those themes out together. So to get in on the conversation early, please consider attending both your regional and then state event.

Here are the specifics:

  • September 16, 10-noon, virtual with viewing at Owatonna Arts Center – Southeast & South Central Regions 9, 10 (More Information and Registration)
  • September 16, 11am-noon, virtual – West Central Region 4 (more info soon)
  • September 16, afternoon – specific time TBD, – Southwest, Southwest Central, & Upper MN Valley Regions 6E, 6W, 8 virtual (more info soon)
  • September 22, 9-11am, virtual – Arrowhead Region 3 (More Information and Registration – Email Karl Schuettler with questions)
  • September 23, 10:30-noon, virtual –  Central Region 7W (More Information and Registration – Email Don Hickman with questions)
  • September 30, 7-8:30pm, virtual – North Central Region 5 – (more info soon)
  • October 6, 3-4:30pm, virtual – East Central Region 7E + Aitkin County – (more info soon)
  • TBD – Northwest & Headwaters Regions 1, 2 – (more info soon)

Not sure which region is yours? Click here for a map and list of MN’s economic development regions.

EVENT Sep 22: Northeast Minnesota Regional Broadband Summit

Another invitation to a regional broadband meeting, which is being held as a precursor to the MN Broadband Conference in October…

The Blandin Foundation, Dept. of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, Northland Foundation, and Northspan are set to co-host a virtual summit highlighting the challenges and opportunities related to broadband.

The summit, scheduled for Wednesday, September 22nd will be held on Zoom from 9:00-11:00 AM. It is free for all attendees, and participants will learn how other communities across the region are responding to this challenge and how an innovative, connected economy can create a dynamic future.


The summit includes information about:

  • Community broadband and innovative economy projects
  • Successful regional infrastructure projects
  • Arrowhead Intelligent Region grant recipients and their plans

Agenda includes:

  • Welcome & Introductions
  • State of Minnesota Office of Broadband Development
  • Intelligent Communities Framework and Community Projects and Project Panel Speed Round
  • Providers and Communities on Successful and Planned Infrastructure Projects
  • Arrowhead Intelligent Region Grant Recipients

Attendees can register for the Northeast Regional Broadband Summit HERE.

The regional summit is a part of Blandin’s annual statewide broadband conference, Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress. This year’s statewide conference is virtual and will take place October 12-14. Visit the conference webpage for more information.

EVENT Oct 12-14: Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress: Submit a Proposal

From the Blandin Foundation…

Submit a Proposal!
October 12-14, 2021


It’s been a challenging year. How did broadband help or hinder – or motivate – you, or your community?

This past year has highlighted the need for high-speed broadband connectivity for all communities. What has your community accomplished with good broadband? What have you accomplished despite bad broadband? What energizes and inspires you to keep at it? What cool things are you working on? What would you like to learn more about and discuss?

This is your chance to shape the agenda for our annual broadband conference. Whether you’d like to present, moderate a discussion, make a video about your town’s strengths or needs, or suggest a speaker for organizers to line up. All ideas are welcome!

  • Give a TED-style talk on a topic of your choice, like “How broadband saved my business (and sanity) during the pandemic.”
  • Propose a discussion question
  • Host a virtual tour of your facility
  • Show us how to use some software, how to set up a public wifi hotspot, etc.
  • Make a video (commercial-style) showcasing your community’s strengths, or one that demonstrates how badly you need better broadband

See the Request for Proposals and submit your idea today!

If you’d like to get together and brainstorm conference session ideas, attend the Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch on Wednesday, July 28th at noon. Our original plan was to have attendees attend the comment period of the Governor’s Broadband Task Force Meeting for the first half hour and debrief during Lunch Bunch from 12:30-1, but Mary Magnuson will be opening the Lunch Bunch room at noon and would be happy to talk about your conference session ideas. Register for Lunch Bunch here.

Watch for info about a Regional Gathering near you!

Planning is underway for the eight regional meetings around the state. We’ll share details as they become available. The purpose of these meetings is to share your broadband story, to learn about the state of broadband, and plans around Federal funding opportunities in your neck-of-the-woods.

We’ll be in touch again soon with more information:

  • We will share information on the regional meetings as details become available.
  • Conference registration coming in August!

Save the Date! Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress

From the Blandin Foundation; this is a fun opportunity for anyone to speak up and tell your inspiring story, show us your innovation or ask us to get someone to speak to you…

Mark Your Calendar!
October 12-14, 2021


For our 2021 virtual broadband conference, we want to hear from YOU!

Yes, as the pandemic wanes, we’re planning another online broadband conference for 2021. But hear us out. This will not be a nine-hour webinar!

We want this conference to be your chance to be heard, and to interact with others from around the state. What’s the best thing you’ve experienced/learned around broadband or technology this year? What have you been working on? What has inspired you? If presenting isn’t your thing, don’t worry – suggest a TED talk we can discuss, pose an open space question, or better yet make your own short video. The sky’s the limit! See the Request for Proposals and submit your idea today!

Next, attend one of eight regional meetings being planned around the state to share your broadband story, to learn about the state of broadband, and plans around Federal funding opportunities in your neck-of-the-woods.

Finally, join us online for a 3-day, statewide event to hear what’s happening across the state – what is being accomplished, what is still needed, and how we can inspire each other to keep at it!

This year, we’ve all lived through a shared, but unique, experience. What was yours like? How did broadband help or hinder – or motivate – you, or your community?

We know rural Minnesotans keenly felt how important a strong, reliable broadband connection is. When kids can’t go to school, adults can’t work, and families can’t access needed resources, our communities suffer. By working together, though, our communities can forge solutions. Countless rural Minnesota communities have shown the way. Your community can too!

We’ll be in touch again soon with more information:

  • We will share information on the regional meetings as details become available.
  • Conference registration coming in August!

Questions? Visit the conference webpage