Free Blandin Webinar Dec 14: Emerging trends in Minnesota Tele-Health

Please join the session and spread the word…

The Online Health Care Experience
Thursday, December 14 from 3-4 pm
Register Online

Listen and learn what is happening in three of Minnesota’s leading health care networks around the trend towards tele-health.  Care leaders from Essentia, Altru and Allina will discuss the importance of home tele-health care for the delivery of health care to rural communities and residents.  Learn about the importance of tele-health services to the vitality of rural health care providers.  Increase your understanding about the connection between good rural broadband and rural health care. Invite your own local health care providers to join us for this webinar.

Resilient Region’s take on the Minnesota Broadband Conference

Pine and Lakes Echo Journal reports…

Resilient Region leaders joined more than 150 broadband leaders from across rural Minnesota last month to compare approaches to expanding access to, and use of, high-speed internet.

Attending were Maureen Ideker of Essentia Health, Joe Buttweiler of Consolidated Telecommunications Co. and Dawn Espe and Cheryal Hills of the Region Five Development Commission

Research unveiled at the conference found that, combined, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties could see more than $78.6 million in economic benefits over 15 years if broadband access and use improved. Tech expert Robert Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, produced profiles of all Minnesota counties using his Digital Divide Index.

As leaders in rural broadband work, work occurring in the Resilient Region was central to the conference sharing and learning. A past Blandin Broadband Community, Resilient Region leaders have invested in projects such as video conferencing equipment at the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. offices; tele-health training through the Essentia Health Foundation; a technology expo in Wadena; and mobile devices for early childhood programs in Brainerd Public Schools.

Communities are starting to see the direct economic impact of broadband investments like those in the Resilient Region, a news release stated. Blandin Foundation-commissioned research released at the conference analyzed these impacts in five rural Minnesota communities, including Crow Wing County.

Ely reports on the 2017 MN Broadband conference

The Ely Timberjay reports on local leaders impression on the 2017 Fall Broadband Conference…

Harold Langowski, Economic Development Consultant John Fedo, and community leader Wende Nelson joined more than 150 broadband leaders from across rural Minnesota last month to compare approaches to expanding access to, and use of, high-speed Internet.

The Border to Border Broadband: Bridging the Gaps – Expanding the Impact conference, co-hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, highlighted the many ways broadband is creating new opportunities for rural communities.

“Ely has a lot to be proud of,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation. “Local leaders are creating a broadband-enhanced future themselves when others wouldn’t do it for them. Their vision will propel the community forward.”

Research unveiled at the conference found that St. Louis County could see more than $57.3 million in economic benefits over 15 years if broadband access and use improved.  Tech expert Robert Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, produced profiles of all Minnesota counties using his Digital Divide Index.  St. Louis County placed first as compared to Minnesota’s 86 other counties in potential benefits.

Better broadband expansion could mean economic boost in Nobles County

The Worthington Globe reports on information provided at the 2017 Fall Broadband Conference…

Nobles County could see more than $7.6 million in economic benefits over 15 years if just 20 percent of unserved households gain access to broadband service, according to a recent study.

Every unserved home in Nobles County is located in a rural area or rural town. Roberto Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue University Center for Regional Development and author of the study, says rural communities can emerge in the growing digital economy — where people can work online from anywhere — with access to broadband, provided they take advantage of the high speeds that give them a competitive boost.

Gallardo created “digital divide” profiles for all 86 counties in Minnesota to show the divide in broadband service and socioeconomic conditions between rural and urban areas.

The study reports Nobles County had an index score of 42.09, similar to that of most Greater Minnesota counties. The divide, in this case, is mostly between Worthington and the rest of the county, as the city has widespread access to broadband speeds.

The study reports that 26.9 percent of Nobles County residents do not have access to fixed broadband of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload.

That’s where the Lismore Cooperative Telephone broadband project, funded in part by the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development and Nobles County, will change things — by providing broadband wireless speeds to nearly every home in the county and lightning-fast fiber to hundreds of rural homes and every home in Wilmont and Leota.

In southwest Minnesota, Cottonwood County had the largest divide at 51.86 — 39.4 percent of the county is without broadband service. Murray County had the highest unserved population at 48 percent and would gain more than $6.7 million in economic benefits if that number was cut down.

Itasca County view of the MN Broadband Conference

The Grand Rapids Herald Review reports…

Itasca Economic Development Corporation’s Teri Heikkila joined more than 150 broadband leaders from across rural Minnesota last month to compare approaches to expanding access to, and use of, high-speed Internet. The Border to Border Broadband: Bridging the Gaps – Expanding the Impact conference, co-hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, highlighted the many ways broadband is creating new opportunities for rural communities.

Research unveiled at the conference found that Itasca County could see more than $18 million in economic benefits over 15 years if broadband access and use improved. Tech expert Robert Gallardo, assistant director at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, produced profiles of all Minnesota counties using his Digital Divide Index. Itasca County placed 19th as compared to Minnesota’s 86 other counties in potential benefits.

As leaders in rural broadband work, Heikkila and Itasca County were central to the conference sharing and learning. A past Blandin Broadband Community, Itasca County leaders have invested in projects such as one-on-one technology assessments and training for local businesses, monthly social media breakfasts, and an IT networking group.

Minnesota leading the way to bring broadband to rural communities through collaboration

Here is the official press release from the Blandin Foundation on the conference last week…

BRAINERD, Minn. (Oct. 31, 2017) – “The number-one threat to community and economic development in the 21st Century is the digital divide,“ said technology researcher and development expert Roberto Gallardo last week at the Border to Border Broadband Conference, co-hosted by Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development.

“Rural communities can take a big piece of the digital-economy pie if leaders look inward and develop the assets they already have at home,” Gallardo said.

Gallardo, assistant director and community economic development specialist at the Purdue Center for Regional Development, urged more than 150 broadband leaders in the room from across rural Minnesota to double-down on local efforts to prepare for the digital economy.

Gallardo showed conference participants how economic benefits to Minnesotans could be boosted by nearly a billion dollars over 15 years if broadband access and use improved. This number comes from the Digital Divide Index (DDI), a tool Gallardo created to look at broadband infrastructure, adoption and socioeconomic makeup at the county level to determine the amount of missed economic benefits due to lack of broadband access and use. Ranging in value from 0 to 100, where 100 indicates the highest digital divide, Minnesota scores a 21.51, positioning the state as a national leader in bridging the digital divide. DDI profiles for all Minnesota counties are at https://blandinonbroadband.org/.

Blandin Foundation-commissioned research released at the conference informed attendees about the impact public investment in broadband infrastructure has had on five well-served rural Minnesota communities. Using formulas to measure annual economic benefit per household and increased home value with broadband, findings indicate that each of the communities will recoup public investment within one to six years.

“This research looks at economic benefits to an entire community, not just to a broadband provider,” said Ann Treacy of Treacy Information Services, the report’s co-author. “Just because there’s not a business case for a provider doesn’t mean there aren’t economic benefits to be had for the community.”

The case studies report can be found at www.mnbroadbandcasestudies.org.

Cooperation: a broadband development strategy

In hard-to-reach rural areas, new forms of cooperation are needed to reach the last mile, said conference speaker Kevin Edberg, executive director at Cooperative Development Services.

“Communities have to think differently, think collaboratively, to see progress,” said Edberg. “We need to rediscover what it means to connect with our neighbors and our communities if we’re going to have the things that we want.”

Successful broadband partnerships start with conversation and assessing assets, said Laura Withers, director of communications at NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, during her address to conference attendees.

“Broadband partnerships are the future of our industry,” Withers said. “Minnesota is leading the charge and we’re noticing it at the national level.”

Public-private partnerships lead the way for broadband expansion in Minnesota

From fixed wireless to fiber, cooperative partners to legacy providers, eight public-private partnership were highlighted to illustrate the many ways Minnesota communities are finding the right Internet solutions to fit their needs. The projects had been funded in part by the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, which has funded 72 projects totaling more than $65 million and are currently reviewing proposals to grant an additional $20 million. A complete project list can be found at https://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/.

One of the grants featured at the conference was $1.7 million awarded to Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) to reach Aitkin County, Minnesota’s least-served area. MLEC has partnered with nearby Consolidated Telecommunications Company to bring fiber optic service to year-round residents and draw in new seasonal residents.

OBD Executive Director Danna MacKenzie’s leadership was recognized during a special ceremony during the conference, citing the national award she recently received for “outstanding individuals that identify local broadband needs and apply homegrown solutions.”  MacKenzie received the “National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisor’s “Hero of the Year” award.

“The reason that the Minnesota program has risen to national attention is that all of us working at the ground level are pulling on the same set of oars,” MacKenzie said. “I accepted this award on behalf of everyone in this room. Thank you for your work.”

“Minnesota has a lot to be proud of,” agreed Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation. “We are beginning to see the impact that creative broadband partnerships can have in a rural community. We cannot stop. Only by working together will Minnesota realize the full potential of border-to-border broadband.”

For 14 years, Blandin Foundation has tackled rural broadband as a strategic priority, positioning it as a national leader and partner in community broadband leadership development and adoption. Partnering with more than 75 communities, the Foundation has invested more than $9 million in rural Minnesota’s capability to design and claim their future, one enabled by high-speed Internet and the digital literacy to put it to work for all residents.

A full archive of conference sessions is at www.blandinonbroadband.org

-END-

About Blandin Foundation: Blandin Foundation works for vibrant rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all residents. Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota. Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives: www.blandinfoundation.org. Information about the Blandin Broadband Communities Program: http://broadband.blandinfoundation.org

Media contact:

Blandin Foundation

Allison Ahcan, Director of Communications

C: 218-259-2893 Arahcan@blandinfoundation.org Blog http://outposts.blandinfoundation.org and http://www.blandinonbroadband.org

Twitter @BlandinFound

Digital Divide Index scores for all MN Counties – a MN Broadband Conference highlight

Last week’s Minnesota Broadband conference was so content rich, I thought I might post some of the highlights this week at a more leisurely pace.

A top highlight was Roberto Gallardo’s presentation – The Digital Age: So What? (You can see Roberto’s slides and video presentation.)

Roberto walked us through the impact and growing speed of technological changes to set the stage for looking at counties in Minnesota to see whether we are prepared for the digital age. Specifically he looks at

  • Infrastructure and Adoption (Do people have access to broadband and do they use it?)
  • Socioeconomic factors (age, poverty, education,
  • Combines those to get a DDI number

The higher the number the bigger the digital divide. You can learn a lot from the numbers in terms of planning a strategy to combat digital  – if you’re Infrastructure number is high – you need better infrastructure. If you’re Socioeconomic number is high, you may need more digital inclusion programs.

Minnesota scoring is:

  • DDI – 21.51
  • Socioeconomic – 41.37
  • Infrastructure – 21.02

Roberto shared county profiles for all Minnesota counties.

Roberto also took a look at how counties have fared based on their DDI number (or their quartile). He found that counties in the highest quartile (remember higher is bad)

  • Saw the greatest population decline from 2010-2015
  • Saw the greatest decline in establishments
  • Saw the greatest decline in jobs

Check it out and see how your county compares to the rest of Minnesota.