Looking for tools to grow a vibrant rural community? Blandin can help!

The Blandin Foundation has started a new blog – Groundwork! And here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor. Here’s an intro to the blog, from the blog…

Real change starts with groundwork.

That’s why we’re launching this blog, a collection of stories, perspectives and tools to help leaders, like you, design and claim your community’s future.

I invite you to use the tools offered in GroundWork to explore new possibilities, test existing thinking and rejuvenate your community work.

We see your passion and commitment. We see your hard work. And we proudly stand with you as you reach across boundaries and build lasting connections to strengthen the places we call home.

You are the leaders we’ve been waiting for!

Kathy Annette, President & CEO

Blandin on Broadband eNews: Minnesota Monthly Recap (June 2019) – lots of legislature and tribal land profiles

Oct 8-10 – MN Fall BB Conference – Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work
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. https://wp.me/p3if7-52i

2019 MN Tribal Nation Broadband Profiles
Using data and mapping from the Office of Broadband Development, we have profiled broadband situation in reservations in MN:

On the Minnesota policy front…

And national policy front…

Local Broadband News

Aitkin County
Aitkin County finds better broadband would boost economic growth https://wp.me/p3if7-53F

Crow Wing County
CTC to extend fiber to reach man in Crow Wing County https://wp.me/p3if7-53j

Douglas County
Runestone Telecom Association brings fiber to area around Lake Andrew, while customers of CenturyLink near Lake Carlos aren’t as lucky. https://wp.me/p3if7-53D

MN State Fair
gpTRAC demonstrates Teledermatology at the Minnesota State Fair (video) https://wp.me/p3if7-53J

Rock County
You can now check out a hotspot from the Rock County library https://wp.me/p3if7-53p

Todd County
CTC starts building better broadband to parts of Todd County https://wp.me/p3if7-55c

Upcoming Events and Opportunities

Help Wanted

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

Thanks to the good work of the MN Rural Broadband Coalition and politicians keeping their promises, there is $40 million of funding coming through DEED Office of Broadband Development for grants to be distributed over the two year budget.  As a result, many community leaders are now asking “how do we get some of that?”

For most communities, there is a lot of work to do between asking that simple question and receiving a broadband grant.  That work starts with these hard questions:

  1. What infrastructure will deliver the broadband services that we will require to thrive over the next 10 to 20 years?
  2. Will we be content to incrementally improve broadband services with better, but not great, broadband speeds and more, but not ubiquitous, broadband coverage?
  3. Who do we want as a long term broadband partner?

There will be strong opinions on these questions but you must develop your community’s own answers to these critical questions.   By working hard upfront on your community’s broadband vision,  you can avoid being whipsawed back and forth between various technology and provider options.

Blandin Foundation has two resources to assist communities as they pursue better broadband service.  First, 32 hours of technical assistance can be obtained through the Community Broadband Resources (CBR) program. The purpose of this program is to help your community get organized and education and to discuss the three questions above.

The second program is the Robust Network Feasibility Fund program which is a grant of up to $25,000 (1:1 cash match required) that allows communities to refine their options for the development of broadband project and partner alternatives.

Information for both programs can be found at broadband.blandinfoundation.org . There is no application deadline for CBR; the next deadline for feasibility fund grants is June 14.

In my experience, communities that skip or shortchange the discussion facilitated through CBR are unprepared to effectively direct their feasibility study consultants towards a desired outcome.  The result is an ambiguous study and a fractured community vision.  My advice: do the vision work up front and then pursue that vision with fierce determination.  Good luck!

Check out a hotspot from the Rock County library

Fun news for Rock County Library patrons (as found on their Facebook Page)…

The Rock County Library now has wifi hotspots to check out! We have five Verizon hotspots available for Rock County library card holders 18 years or older with cards in good standing (fees at $5 or below) to check out.

The hotspots check out for two weeks, can connect up to 15 devices per hotspot, and will work anywhere in the United States with Verizon coverage.

Our partnership with the Blandin Foundation and Rock County’s involvement as a Blandin Broadband Community has made this possible.

Blandin on Broadband eNews: Broadband activity throughout Minnesota Monthly Recap

Oct 8-10 – MN Fall BB Conference Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work
This three-day conference at the beautiful Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, MN offers 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. https://wp.me/p3if7-52i

Apply to be on the next MN Broadband Task Force
Applications are now being accepted for 15 open member seats of the newest iteration of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. https://wp.me/p3if7-532

A Better Wireless has a Solution for Rural MN
The Benton Foundation posts a column from A Better Wireless, about the need in rural areas (specifically rural Minnesota) for better broadband to create a level playing field for students. https://wp.me/p3if7-52C

CN QuickStart
Introducing CN QuickStart, a pre-feasibility study tool to help you understand your community broadband options. https://wp.me/p3if7-52q

Thriving by Design Minnesota Equity Blueprint First Release
Growth & Justice releases their first Blueprint Report on Human Capital; it reveals challenges and opportunities, along with dozens of practical solutions that will help realize Minnesota’s full human potential. https://wp.me/p3if7-52j

Minnesotans Winning National Tech Awards
Congrats to Casey Sorenson from PCs for People, featured in the Star Tribune https://wp.me/p3if7-51Q for winning the 2019 Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion. https://wp.me/p3if7-50A And congrats to Brent Christensen, named 2019 Grassroots Advocate of the Year by NTCA. https://wp.me/p3if7-51O

Blandin Foundation Rural Pulse – how do Minnesotans feel?
Every three years, the Blandin Foundation does a scan of how Minnesotans are feeling about the economy, their future and more. This year they surveyed 1,560 people the results are mixed based on where you live and who you are. https://wp.me/p3if7-50u

MN Public Broadband Alliance Meeting
MN Public Broadband Alliance hosted a meeting on broadband with the following topics:

  • Partnerships, Where to find Partners, Structures
  • Wireless Capabilities/Hybrid Systems
  • Grant Overviews
  • Financing Options
  • Economic Development and Broadband
  • Legislative Update and Questions https://wp.me/p3if7-51E

On the Minnesota policy front…

And national policy front…

Local Broadband News

Blue Earth County
Blue Earth County investigates broadband with feasibility study https://wp.me/p3if7-528

Crow Wing County
What do you do when the maps are wrong and you aren’t served? One man in Crow Wing County tells his story. https://wp.me/p3if7-51W

Ely
Timberjay suggests that relocating government jobs could significantly boost rural Minnesota economy https://wp.me/p3if7-51e

Lincoln County
Lincoln County launches broadband grant application https://wp.me/p3if7-51w

Lyon County
Lyon County promotes app to test broadband speed https://wp.me/p3if7-51S

Marshall, Pipestone and Worthington
Vast Broadband brings Gig access to Marshall, Pipestone and Worthington https://wp.me/p3if7-51c

Martin County
Much of rural Martin County has better broadband https://wp.me/p3if7-50K

Red Wing
Red Wing Ignite Cup holds a competition and says congrats to winner, Busy Baby https://wp.me/p3if7-51v

St Louis County
Better broadband comes to Side Lake in St Louis County https://wp.me/p3if7-51U

Twin Cities
BestBuy sells device to help telehealth patients have better remote exams https://wp.me/p3if7-51M

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

Finally, a little nice spring weather happening in Minnesota!  It is fun to see trees budding and perennials starting to sprout.  On my little estate, it is a lot of work to clear away the debris of late fall and winter and get my gardens ready to thrive.  There is that one fleeting moment when I think that once this preparation work is complete, I can sit back all summer long, sip a beverage and just enjoy a beautiful view.  The reality is exposed not long after that gardens take tending – pulling weeds, adding some fertilizer, watering thirsty plants and deterring white tail deer.  Neglecting any of these tasks leads to even more work and/or disappointing benefits.  While some plants will do well no matter how little attention you pay to them – hostas, ferns, coneflowers – many need care and attention to prosper.

The same is true of our broadband and community vitality work.  It would be pleasant to think that once a broadband network is in the ground or on the tower that our community work is done.  There will be some businesses, teachers, local organizations and health care providers that make immediate and aggressive use of the new connectivity.  They will gather and post information online, expand their course offerings or market area, and provide a great illustration of technology opportunities.  Unfortunately, there are far too few of these folks.

Many others will greatly enjoy the higher broadband speeds but will not make significant changes without some technology Miracle Grow.  Just as it is to our benefit to water and maintain our gardens so that the tender and emergent plans grow and bloom, experience shows that the more delicate and less aggressive plants need care to reach their full potential.

Many of our broadband communities are aggressively sponsoring technology assessments for business and local organizations.  This service provides immediate benefits to the participants, from simply claiming their Google place to the more complex task of closing security vulnerabilities.  The assessment provides a plan for the user while reducing technology and financial risk and also fear of change.  Consider your local tech vendors as your Master Gardeners.  Give them an opportunity to show the skills and to market their services within your community.  If your area is short on these tech masters, search the surrounding communities and regional centers.  Entice them to visit your community, give them a platform to share their expertise and identify ways to make it worth their while to do business in your community. Or contract with staff consultants from the local SBDC.

Another gardening strategy is to split plants and share with neighbors.  By spreading your tech assessment and development work across various sectors, the benefits of your work multiply. Highlighting success stories is a great way to spread technology adoption in your community.  When one person creates a beautiful boulevard garden, others follow and the entire block becomes a showcase.  Smart community economic developers actively tend your community’s garden.  You should too.  See what grows!

Career Opportunity at Blandin Foundation: Grants Program Assistant

An opportunity at Blandin – great mission, great people…

Grants Program Assistant

The Blandin Foundation is seeking a full-time Grants Program Assistant.  This position supports the grant and scholarship application and administration functions.

Candidates should have a high level of understanding and experience working with customer relationship management (CRM) databases as well as strong interpersonal and communication skills.  Candidates should have a minimum of 2 years post-secondary education, with a 4-year degree beneficial, or demonstrated combination of education and applicable work experience.  Experience in the non-profit field is beneficial.

For a copy of the position description, please download the PDF file below.

Qualified candidates should submit a resume, cover letter and references to:

Shari Undeland
Human Resources Generalist
100 N. Pokegama Avenue
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
slundeland@blandinfoundation.org

 

Deadline for application is May 22, 2019 or until position is filled.

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.

Blue Earth County investigates broadband with feasibility study

Mankato Free Press reports…

Blue Earth County is set to look into its rural broadband needs after receiving a $25,000 grant from the Blandin Foundation.

The Blue Earth County Board signed off on the grant Tuesday morning. The money will be used for a feasibility study that will identify where broadband access is lacking throughout the county and recommend potential solutions to get rural areas up to speed with other cities.

“We really are trying to get input from the broader community to say, ‘What is the need? How can that need best be met?'” County Administrator Bob Meyer said.

County officials plan to hire telecommunication consultants with Finley Engineering using the grant and county funding to conduct the study later this year. The county also is meeting with local internet companies to see what they would need to expand broadband across the area.

Almost all of Blue Earth County’s internet options meet the state’s immediate high-speed goals — at least 25 mbps downloads and 3 mbps uploads by 2022. Yet only about 14 percent of the county was equipped to handle at least 100 mpbs download speeds and 20 mbps upload speeds.

Every year I look at how each county is doing with broadband deployment. I often see counties that are doing fine today but aren’t working on plans for tomorrow. So it’s exciting to see a county that’s planning for the future!