The business end of digital skills: everybody wins – households can gain $1,363 to $2,879 per year

The National Skills Coalition took a look at the impact of digital skills training on workers, the word force and businesses…

The findings in this analysis are unequivocal:

There is overwhelming demand for digital skills in the labor market, with 92 percent of all job ads requiring definitely digital or likely digital2 skills. This demand is robust across all industries, and small businesses are just as likely as their larger peers to seek workers with technology skills.

Yet many workers have not had sufficient opportunity to build such skills; earlier research found that nearly one-third of U.S. workers do not have foundational digital skills, and workers of color fall disproportionately into this category due to structural inequities.3

Equipping workers with necessary skills requires action by both private employers and public policy[1]makers. Notably, public investments in workforce development and education are especially vital given the unevenness of private investments and the prevalence of digital skill demands among smaller businesses, which depend on publicly funded work[1]force and education partners to upskill employees.

Closing the digital skill divide has major payoffs for businesses. Prior research has shown that workers value upskilling opportunities and prefer working for employers who offer clear, well-defined path[1]ways to advancement.4 Because turnover has heavy costs for businesses – with estimates ranging from $25,000 for workers who leave within the first year to over $78,000 for workers who leave after five years,5 averting or delaying turnover by ensuring that workers have upskilling opportunities can be economically significant.

Public investments in closing the digital skill divide can also generate economic benefits for individual workers and the broader economy. People who qualify for jobs that require even one digital skill can earn an average of 23 percent more than those working in jobs requiring no digital skills — an increase of $8,000 per year for an individual worker.6 These increased earnings could result in more state and federal tax revenue generated by each worker. Depending on the household size and composition, this could range from $1,363 to $2,879 per year.7

61 Iron Range small businesses receive “Tech Boosts”

Here’s an update from the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation email newsletter…

Tech Boost was launched in late 2021 to help small businesses in northeastern Minnesota adopt new technologies that benefit their operations. The business owners received a free expert consultation from Northland SBDC on potential technology-related investments to assist their business. The business was then given the option to purchase technology equipment or services of which two-thirds of the costs were eligible for reimbursement through grant funding.

Tech Boost was part of Arrowhead Intelligent Region Initiative (AIR), a broadband partnership between Blandin Foundation, Northland Foundation and Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. The trio made available a pool of grant funds for local organizations working to support a broadband-fueled economy in northeastern Minnesota.

Throughout 2022, Northland SBDC consultants Vicki Hagberg and Curt Walczak met one-on-one with 76 small businesses to provide technical assistance and technology recommendations to bolster their operations. Sixty-one of the 76 businesses chose to utilize the Tech Boost grant. A total of $55,764 in grant funds were distributed, and over $120,000 was invested in technology improvements for regional businesses.

The grant funding was used for a variety of technologies including: new laptops, tablets and printers; point-of-sale system to help manage sales and inventory; systems to support online retail sales; lodging reservation systems; website development; networking systems; automated/smart medical equipment; and, equipment to develop real estate virtual tours.

Four of the 61 businesses that utilized the grant funding were:

  • Bear Island Realty (Ely): Tech Boost Grant purchased equipment to develop virtual real estate tours to post on Realty.com. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of business acquisition, human resources, QuickBooks and marketing. Bear Island Realty provides professional real estate services in the Ely and surrounding area.
  • Joy & Company (Grand Marais): Tech Boost Grant purchased a new photo printer. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of COVID-relief, general operations and marketing. Joy & Company is a retail shop with locally-made art, gifts, art supplies, antiques, vintage clothing and jewelry.
  • Rose Cottage Baking Co. (Cook): Tech Boost Grant purchased a point-of-sale system and networking equipment to provide internet access at the bakery. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of business plan development and financial projections to support a business expansion. Rose Cottage Baking Co. is a family-based eatery that serves homemade breakfast, lunch, coffee, espresso, handcrafted lattes and baked goods with no preservatives, no fillers and only freshly ground grains.
  • Golden Paws Dog Training (Aurora): Tech Boost Grant purchased a new computer and monitor for business management and online dog training curriculum with national reach. SBDC Technical Assistance was provided in the areas of business plan development and financial projections for construction of a new dog training facility. Golden Paws provides in-person and online dog training for basic obedience, behavior problem solving and dog sport competition.

“Northland SBDC provided me with expert advice that was tailored to my bakery’s needs,” said Rebekah Olson, Rose Cottage Baking Co. owner. “I received help to confidently navigate the technology purchases and implementation at my bakery’s new brick and mortar location.”

MN State of Talent Tech: Business better poised than workers? If so for how long?

The Minnesota Technology Association has released a report on the MN State of Talent Tech. The executive summary says it all. The opportunities are here but unevenly distributed in terms of training and supporting a diverse workforce…

The Minnesota Technology Association (MnTech) has long heard about challenges in finding tech talent, and in order to understand the true magnitude of this challenge has released the first annual Minnesota: State of Tech Talent report, detailing the current tech talent landscape. This report details how the tech sector continues to contribute to the strong Minnesota economy, with the average annual median tech wage at $94,715, 106% higher than the median state wage, an unemployment rate at only 1.1% in the sector, and 1 person hired for every 4 tech positions posted.

However, much of the good news about tech talent and opportunity ends there. We are 46th in the nation when looking at job growth in large part due to the lack of talent to fill open roles.

Minnesota is in the bottom half of the country for representative diversity in tech, with women, Black or African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American/Indigenous (BIPOC) populations all underrepresented as compared to their respective representation in the labor force.

In Minnesota, 89% of all tech job postings require a four-year degree, yet less than 22% of BIPOC talent in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area hold a bachelor’s degree. By most measures, Minnesota is falling behind when it comes to tech talent development. We are last in the nation, ranked 50th out of 50 states for high schools offering foundational computer science courses.

Only 12% of urban schools, 18% of suburban, and 25% of rural high schools offer foundational computer science courses, and women, Black or African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American/Alaskan students are taking advanced placement (AP) exams at rates less than half of their respective overall student populations.

Minnesota colleges are not producing enough degree holders to meet demand either, as they are annually producing approximately 600 fewer software developers than for which there is demand. However, over the last decade, Minnesota has more than doubled the number of computer science graduates, showing there is opportunity for increases in the years to come. Given that 72% of graduates from Minnesota colleges stay in the state, the 5th highest in the nation, investing in our college’s computer science programs will help solve our talent challenges today and into the future.

Senator Klobuchar talks about importance of precision agriculture

KRWC AM 1360 reports

The 2023 Farm Bill will likely include programs to expand broadband access to more homes, farms and businesses in rural America.

During a recent Senate Ag Committee hearing, Senator Amy Klobuchar talked about the importance of high-speed internet for “precision” agriculture.

Precision agriculture management uses things like drones, GPS, and irrigation technologies. The USDA’s Rural Development program has been awarding loans and grants to expand high-speed internet infrastructure.

Why do farms need broadband? MN farmers will let you know

KSTP TV reports on the need for broadband in rural areas…

Growing up, Joe Sullivan envisioned a life behind the wheel of a tractor.

But the farmer from Franklin, Minnesota spends most days at a computer with his smartphone nearby.

An app tells Sullivan the location and status of every piece of equipment on the farm. Software maps every acre of land, revealing detailed information about crop yields and soil health. Each building, including the large pole barns that store tractors, is hooked up to Wi-Fi.

“We’ve been pretty early adopters of technology,” Sullivan said. “It’s a complete game changer once you are connected and can actually utilize all the tools that are out there.”

Many other farmers in rural Minnesota want to incorporate the latest technology into their operations, like Sullivan, but unreliable internet and non-existent broadband infrastructure make that impossible.

“It is a huge, huge disadvantage if you’re the ‘have nots,’” Sullivan said.

Who telecommuted during COVID and what does that tell us about future use in Minnesota?

The West Central Tribune reports

new study from University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Transportation offers the most comprehensive look to date at how telecommuting in Minnesota has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In 2020, Minnesota saw a pivotal shift in the number of people working from home due to the pandemic. MnDOT wanted to capture Minnesota-specific data to understand who is working from home, how it is going, and what the future might look like.

Findings:

  • While the image of an average telecommuter tends to skew young, Extension researchers found that Baby Boomers — the oldest among workers — telecommuted the most. The researchers surveyed more than 1,200 Minnesota employees and employers, in addition to conducting focus groups.
  • Looking forward, the state can expect the greatest levels of telecommuting from people with longer commutes, two-year college degrees and metro-area homes. The data serves as a snapshot in time; it has evolved since 2021 and will continue to change.
  • Whereas three-quarters of employees reported that their organizations will allow teleworking at least part-time post-COVID, not all employers are on board. Nearly a quarter of surveyed employers oppose all but the most minimal telecommuting going forward, even if work allows for it.
  • Greater Minnesota respondents were more likely to telecommute no more than one day a week post-pandemic, while Twin Cities respondents were more likely to telecommute two to three days a week. However, there was no difference between Greater Minnesota and the metro area if respondents were likely to commute four to five days a week.
  • People with children at home are more likely to have formal post-pandemic telecommuting agreements with their employers.
  • Roughly a quarter of employers may recruit completely remote talent from outside of Minnesota.

Launch Minnesota Awards Over $1M in Innovation Grants to Startups

Always fun to see Minnesota innovation shared through a DEED email alert…

Today the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced $1,189,500 in Launch Minnesota Innovation Grant awards to startups across the state. The grants were awarded to 43 startups, over half of which are led by entrepreneurs of color, veterans, women, or located in Greater Minnesota.

Launch Minnesota Innovation Grants target the most promising, innovative and scalable technology businesses in Minnesota. The grants help reduce the risk for Minnesota technology startups and entrepreneurs who are solving problems and growing the state’s innovation ecosystem.

“The launch of new technology startups is central to Minnesota’s overall competitiveness, because our startup ecosystem has an outsized impact on our state,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “These grants encourage more Minnesotans to build the next big thing – creating jobs and opportunities in industries of the future.”

Since its inception during the 2019 legislative session, Launch Minnesota has awarded 245 Innovation Grants totaling $6M to 176 unique grantees – accelerating the growth of startups and amplifying Minnesota as a national leader in innovation.

The program has $3M this biennium, $1.5M each fiscal year to provide grants to high-growth startups. Launch Minnesota has $310,500 remaining this fiscal year, which ends June 2023.

“Putting capital in the hands of founders is making a difference,” said Launch Minnesota Executive Director Neela Mollgaard. “These businesses are growing and solving big problems that will define our state’s next chapter.”

Innovation Grants include business operations, which provide up to $35,000 for research and development, direct business expenses and technical assistance, and Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Matching Grants, for first time Phase I and Phase II awardees and that are based on sliding scales of their federal awards. Businesses are eligible to receive one of each grant over the two-year period.

The following companies received grants:

Adapt Design Works LLC (Business Operations): Developing an app-connected system that monitors and prevents pressure injuries for wheelchair users.

Agitated Solutions Inc (Business Operations): Provides agitated saline as contrast during ultrasound procedures.

Astrin Biosciences Inc (SBIR/STTR): Developing single-cell diagnostic tools and precision therapies to transform cancer mortality.

Binary Bridge SBC (Business Operations): Bringing health equity and clinic modernization to emerging economies with an innovative digital health records system.

Bus Stop Mamas LLC (Business Operations): Workforce engagement tool that provides businesses access to an untapped talent pool of educated stay-at-home moms.

C Drager LLC (Business Operations): Online platform for farmers and independent meat market producers to sell directly to consumers.

Canomiks Inc (SBIR/STTR): Developing an AI-based platform to test and certify biological efficacy and safety for the food, beverage and dietary supplement industry.

Carba Inc (Business Operations):  Permanently removes and buries large quantities of carbon monoxide from the atmosphere.

Cerovations LLC (SBIR/STTR): Medtech development focused on neurosurgical, urologic/gynecologic and cardiac inventions.

Clean Chickens and Co. LLC (Business Operations): Mobile Poultry Processing Unit that is both USDA inspected and Halal Certified.

CoraVie Medical: (Business Operations and SBIR/STTR) Developing a subcutaneous, continuous blood pressure monitor.  

Daynamica Inc (SBIR/STTR): Application for collecting, processing and understanding human activity and travel behavior data.

Detect Auto Inc (Business Operations): Computer vision-based analytics platform for auto repair shops providing analytics and insights on shop performance with AI. 

Empower Independence Company LLC (Business Operations): Developing a shower system that enables individuals with physical limitations to provide self-care, increase independence and enhance safety in the shower.

Exergi Predictive Inc (SBIR/STTR): Developing machine learning software products for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Frontline Biotechnologies Inc (Business Operations): Researching a novel eDNA sorbent kit for use as a diagnostic tool for aquatic disease and invasive species.

Hayaa LLC (Business Operations): Providing culturally appropriate sanitary wear for Muslim healthcare workers.

Heart Failure Solutions Inc (Business Operations): Assisting heart failure patients that have been diagnosed with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

Isola Therapeutics Inc: Business Operations and SBIR/STTR) Developing a local drug delivery platform to treat lung cancer and esophageal cancer.

Loon Medical LLC (SBIR/STTR): Developing a mobile application with a quality-controlled collection of clinical signs and outcome monitoring meant for infants and preschoolers with respiratory illnesses.

MarPam Pharma LLC (SBIR/STTR): Developing a one-time treatment for HIV that eliminates the need to take daily antiretroviral medications.

Morari Inc (Business Operations): Developed a chemical-free Bluetooth-enabled wearable patch for the treatment of premature ejaculation.

NeuraWorkx Medical Technologies Inc (Business Operations): Developing a non-invasive bioelectronic and digital health solution by enhancing the brain’s glymphatic system to slow its aging process.

Neurotype Inc (Business Operations): Researching and developing portable brain sensing tools to support the recovery of people who struggle with substance use disorders.

Nightware Inc (SBIR/STTR): Prescription digital therapeutic system for the reduction of sleep disturbance related to nightmare disorder or nightmares from post-traumatic stress disorder.

NovoClade Inc (SBIR/STTR): Working to bring chemical-free environmentally friendly insect control to market.

Nucleic Sensing Systems LLC (SBIR/STTR): Developing technology for the autonomous detection and verification of biological organisms.

Parkpoolr LLC (Business Operations): Offering modern parking management including property management, advertising, payment collection and more.

REMastered Sleep LLC: (Business Operations  and SBIR/STTR) Myofunctional therapy water bottle providing a simple solution to improve airway health and get better sleep.

Sasya Inc (SBIR/STTR): Developing low-cost, high-performing feed additives for the swine feed market.

Sarcio Inc (Business Operations): Developing an osteoarthritis regenerative cell therapy.

Shape Medical Systems Inc (SBIR/STTR): Validating new methods developed by Shape to detect early-stage pulmonary arterial hypertension.

SIID Technologies LLC (Business Operations): Applies principles of machine learning and data science to develop SaaS software products that mitigate algorithmic bias within legal practices.

Superior Nano LLC (SBIR/STTR): Developing nano-dosage forms of drug molecules and nano-drug delivery technology.

TearRestore Inc (Business Operations): At-home device replacing in-office treatment for dry eye sufferers.

Teqnizan Inc (Business Operations): Offers a patented music earring that connects to Bluetooth-enabled devices.

Tiumed LLC (Business Operations): Creating an electro-surgical device targeting benign prostatic hyperplasia surgeries.

TriOxLLC (Business Operations): Developing an at-home appliance that sterilizers a prosthetic sleeve.

TurnSignl Inc (Business Operations): On-demand legal guidance from an attorney to drivers.

 Weathervane Labs LLC (SBIR/STTR): App with personalized weather insights.

Visit LaunchMinnesota.org or the Launch Minnesota grants section of the DEED website to learn more about grant opportunities, see a listing of grant recipients and access application materials.

Inbound Health, an Allina Health offshoot, offers hospital-at-home services

According to a press release on Business Wire

Allina Health and Flare Capital Partners today announced the launch of Inbound Health, a new company that enables health systems and health plans to offer hospital-at-home and skilled nursing-at-home programs. These innovative new care models create the ability to care for patients requiring facility-level acute or post-acute care in their home, thereby improving patient access, satisfaction, and outcomes while lowering total cost of care.

Inbound Health provides the full stack of capabilities that are required to scale at-home care models including home-based care pathways, virtual care teams, engagement and workflow technology, analytics, supply chain partnerships, operational oversight and payment models. The company’s flexible partnership structure enables customers to leverage their existing assets and capabilities while relying on Inbound Health to fill the gaps required to scale these programs across their service area

To date, more than 4,200 patients across 185 primary diagnoses have been cared for through the Inbound Health platform, which has been operational in Allina Health’s service area since May 2020. The program has allowed Allina Health to manage a wider swath of the continuum of care for its patients, thereby ensuring that care is delivered in a safe, coordinated and patient-centric manner. The company combines biometric monitoring, digital surveillance, in-home nursing and therapy, virtual visits with hospitalists and geriatricians, and a comprehensive supply chain to deliver a safe and high-quality care program.

Inbound Health has proven that the program lowers total-cost-of-care by 30-40% on a risk-adjusted basis while achieving similar or improved clinical outcomes when compared to traditional facility-based care. These outcomes have enabled Inbound Health and Allina to develop unique episodic-based payer contracts with multiple Commercial and Medicare Advantage payers in Minnesota, a payment model that the company plans on replicating with partners in other markets.

Could digital equity help people with disabilities close the workforce gap?

An interesting Twitter thread from economist Kathryn Anne Edwards takes an historical look at the workforce participation rate in the US going back to 1948. So much to glean from it but what caught my eye was a chart on who isn’t part of the workforce – persons with disabilities tops the chart. Even considering every other characteristic – having a disability seems to be a strong determinant for unemployment.

That seems like a role for technology especially in a world that has recently (still is?) experienced a global quarantine. People got used to working remotely; people got used to other people working remotely. A recent report from the Department of Labor (Employment of Persons with a Disability: Analysis of Trends during the COVID-19 Pandemic), indicates that this might be true. Here are some of the highlights that help build the case:

  • Due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, from February to April 2020 the employment-population ratio plummeted from 19.1% to 16.1% for persons with a disability, and from 66.5% to 55.9% for persons without a disability, with 25 million jobs lost combined.
  • Two-thirds of this employment loss was reversed by October 2020. Thereafter, more gradual but still historically rapid improvement further restored nearly a fifth of this prior employment loss by December 2021. For persons with a disability, a record high employment-population ratio was reached in November 2021.
  • Although both employment and labor force participation rates improved for persons with a disability in 2021, people with a disability continue to experience significantly lower rates of employment and labor force participation than those without a disability.
  • From 2019 to 2021, persons with a disability experienced similar employment declines to those without a disability in high contact-intensity occupations but had a much smaller decline in medium contact-intensity occupations and had a much larger increase in employment in low contact-intensity occupations.

One of the employment characteristics they track is ability to telework…

Occupations are assigned to a binary categorization of displaying ability to telework or lacking ability to telework, based on a number of factors.10 In 2019, 36.1% of jobs had the ability to perform via full time telework, and 63.9% of jobs did not have that feature.

Figure 10 below displays change in employment by ability to telework and disability status from February to April 2020. The short-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was much greater for occupations that could not be performed from home, with employment losses of 20-21%, than on occupations that could be performed at home, which had employment losses of around 9%. The longer-term change in employment from 2019 to 2021 by ability to telework and disability status is displayed in Figure 11 below. For persons without a disability, there was moderately lower employment loss in occupations conducive to telework relative to occupations that could not be performed via telework. Persons with a disability, however, experienced considerable employment gains among telework-ready occupations, while employment loss in other jobs was similar to persons without a disability. This is a possible indication that because the COVID-19 pandemic made access to telework more standard, new doors to opportunity may have been opened for people with disabilities by removing certain barriers to employment relating to commuting, the need for social distancing, and workplace accessibility.

And here is their conclusion…

Over the past two years, the United States has experienced historically unprecedented declines and recovery in employment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. As detailed in this report, there have been substantial differences in how COVID-19 has affected industries and occupations, with contact intensity and ability to telework being major drivers of this variation, and also in employment levels for persons with and without a disability. As of the end of 2021, there has been a greater recovery in the labor market for persons with a disability, which might be attributable to an overall increase in access to teleworking, which allows for social distancing and helps to mitigate other barriers to workplace accessibility and employment, including transportation, that individuals with disabilities commonly face. Despite these more recent gains, it is important to note that persons with a disability continue to experience higher unemployment and lower labor force participation compared to those without a disability and chronic disparities between the two groups persist. Therefore, continued vigilance is needed to build upon these gains to address the disparities and improve the labor market conditions for persons with a disability.

I might add that these benefits will only help people with disabilities who have access to devices, broadband and the skills to use them. Recently I created MN County Digital Equity profiles, which included percentage of population with disabilities. For some communities, reaching out specifically to that demographic could be a game changer in seeking funding but also in local economic development and quality of life for people with disabilities it the community.

And as my friend and colleague Bill Coleman says – we’re all just temporarily able-bodied. As we age, we need all sorts of help from glasses to more! This is a demographic that will increase as life expectancies do.

Red Wing Ignite will be awarded $4 million for local entrepreneurship and innovation (Olmsted County)

Red Wing Ignite reports

It was announced today that Red Wing Ignite has secured a Venture Challenge scale grant via the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build to Scale (B2S) program. Red Wing Ignite, which also received a precursor to the B2S “build” grant in 2019, worked with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) to apply to this grant as part of CORI’s 2022 Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program empowering rural communities to create inclusive digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.

The Initiative was launched in 2018 by CORI and its mission-aligned collaborating organization, Rural Innovations Strategies, Inc. (RISI). To date, this program has graduated 29 communities and helped rural organizations secure more than $29.9 million to develop strategies and build out programs that can accelerate their local digital economic development efforts.

“The work that goes into the Rural Innovation Initiative process requires intense focus, unwavering optimism, and a clear vision for the future — which is why it’s been so exciting to watch these communities receive Build to Scale funding,” said Matt Dunne, Founder and Executive Director at the Center on Rural Innovation. “This is the third year we’ve run this program, and each year we grow more inspired by the commitment these rural leaders have to transform their local economies with new tech pathways that serve their community. We look forward to seeing what is next for them as our Network continues to grow.”

“We are so proud to have been awarded the Build to Scale funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration,” said Stacy Nimmo, Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite.  “It’s a huge win for our region and we are excited for this opportunity to further ignite, launch, and accelerate entrepreneurial  ideas and innovation in southeast Minnesota.”

With the $4 million provided by the Venture Challenge grant and matching funds, Red Wing plans to launch the Accelerating Rural Entrepreneurs in Southeast Minnesota project, intended to help overcome geographic dispersal and barriers to entry through regional coordination, expand access to startup programs for rural and diverse founders, launch an accelerator to expedite the growth of scalable tech startups in the region and build a network for mentors and investors ready to help scale regional startups.

Red Wing Ignite is joined by the Jones Family Foundation, Goodhue County, Xcel Energy and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation as local partners who provided funding for the community’s match portion of the grant. Other local partners supporting this program include the City of Red Wing, Workforce Development Inc., St. Olaf College, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Winona State University, Minnesota State College Southeast, MNCup, and Rainsource Capital.

Turns out broadband at speeds of 25/3 is too slow for business

Coming as a surprise to no one who uses the Internet, the US Government Accountability Office reports that broadband at 25 Mbps down and 3 up is likely too slow for business…

In a 2021 report, GAO found that some small businesses lack access to broadband, but may benefit from federal programs that fund deployment in rural areas. A nationally representative survey by Amazon and the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center found approximately 20 percent of rural small businesses were not using broadband, with about 5 percent using a dial up connection. Small businesses likely benefit from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service’s (RUS) funding to expand broadband deployment. For example, at the time of the 2021 report, FCC had awarded $19.7 billion since 2014 through components of its high-cost programs, and estimated it had served 9.1 million business and residence locations. Both FCC and USDA have also helped increase broadband speeds in rural areas. For example, USDA’s rural broadband deployment program, ReConnect, is mostly funding projects that propose to build fiber, which is generally associated with the fastest speeds available.

Much of the literature GAO reviewed suggests that FCC’s current broadband minimum benchmark speeds—25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloading and 3 Mbps for uploading—are likely too slow to meet many small business speed needs. For example, a 2019 USDA report stated that as technology advances and volumes of data needed to manage agriculture production grow, speeds above of 25/3 Mbps will likely be needed. In July 2022, the FCC Chairwoman announced a proposal to increase the benchmark to 100 Mbps for download and 20 Mbps for upload.

Small Business Administration (SBA) officials told GAO that their agency supports broadband access for small businesses, especially for those in rural areas, through partnerships with organizations and federal agencies. For example, SBA partners with national organizations that offer technical assistance and training to small businesses on a variety of topics, including how to use broadband to support their business.

I recognize that it’s important to do the research to provide a point, but it feels like they should be looking at 100/20 or 100/100 not 25/3. Often the research impacts funding and funding is more forward-looking than 25/3.

White House looks at Digital Asset and consumer protection

The White House releases the first-ever comprehensive framework for responsible development of digital assets. (Did you know 16 percent of adult Americans have purchased digital assets?) I’m going to borrow the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society recap…

Digital assets present potential opportunities to reinforce US leadership in the global financial system and remain at the technological frontier. President Biden’s March 9, 2022 Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets outlined the first whole-of-government approach to addressing the risks and harnessing the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology. Agencies across the government have worked together to develop frameworks and policy recommendations that advance the six key priorities identified in the Order:

  1. Consumer and Investor Protection –  issuing guidance, increasing enforcement resources, and aggressively pursuing fraudulent actors.

  2. Promoting Financial Stability – collaborating with financial institutions to bolster their cybersecurity capabilities and neutralize emerging strategic risks.

  3. Countering Illicit Finance – monitoring the development of the digital assets sector and working to expose and disrupt illicit actors.

  4. US Leadership in the Digital Assets Sector – leveraging US positions in international organizations to set standards for the digital asset sectors.

  5. Financial Inclusion – exploring a US Central Bank Digital Currency that enables access to a broad swath of US consumers.

  6. Responsible Innovation – developing a Digital Assets Research and Development Agenda and encouraging innovation in US-based, digital assets firms.

Top tips for the housing crisis in NE Minnesota – get better broadband

The Minnesota Reformer has 11 tips to increase housing stock in Northeastern Minnesota. I’ll just jump to number 7…

7. Support broadband expansion as quickly as possible.

Access to broadband moves a house from “the middle of nowhere” to the “center of everywhere” especially with the growing reliance and acceptance of remote work.

US House Lawmakers Urge Biden Administration to Co-Locate Broadband and EV Charging Infrastructure

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society report..

Reps Anna G Eshoo (D-CA) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) led a letter to Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information at the National Telecommunications and Information (NTIA) Alan Davidson, urging them to use funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to build out broadband and electric vehicle charging infrastructure simultaneously.

The letter beings

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) makes transformative investments in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and will help meet the Administration’s critical goal of 500,000 chargers by 2030 to ensure that EVs are accessible to all Americans. As federal agencies, states, and relevant stakeholders develop plans for a robust electric vehicle (EV) charging network across the country, we urge you to consider the connectivity requirements for EV supply equipment (EVSE) as well as the benefits of co-locating EVSE with infrastructure that can also be utilized to deploy broadband.

EV needs broadband and unserved areas are unable to adopt EV…

EV charging access has long been lacking in underserved communities. In 2019, the Department of Energy (DOE) found that 80 percent of EV owners charge in their own homes. Although home chargers are the most used type of chargers in EV adoption, apartment residents are less
likely to have access to at-home chargers. This disparity poses a particular challenge to lower income households and communities of color, who are more likely to live in multi-unit housing.
Similar challenges exist in rural areas, where limited electric distribution exacerbates range anxiety, the concern that vehicles will not be able to travel the distance needed. IIJA addresses these equity concerns by including $2.5 billion to support, among other things, rural charging
and increase EV charging access in disadvantaged communities. Additionally, IIJA directs $5 billion to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, resulting in $7.5 billion to build a national electric vehicle charging network.

Gaining access to EV, is one more reason to invest in broadband for all…

Digital equity disparities exist in areas where access to broadband is non-existent or unaffordable and disproportionately affects rural areas and communities of color. A Pew Research Center report showed that 34 percent of Black households and 39 percent of Latino households do not have wired broadband connection. In addition to this, the Census Bureau found that 33 percent of
Native Americans lack a broadband subscription, and 47 percent of those living on tribal lands lack broadband availability altogether. The IIJA acknowledged these disparities and provided $65 billion for broadband expansion, including grants for internet service expansion in unserved and underserved areas.
In light of the national electric vehicle charging network’s connectivity requirements, the persistent digital divide, and EV charging infrastructure disparities across the nation, we encourage you to coordinate IIJA broadband and EV charging infrastructure efforts to encourage co-location of EVSE with telecommunications infrastructure when and where appropriate. The IIJA also included strong prevailing wage protections and preferences to ensure federal funding supports high-skilled, well-paying jobs. We urge you to include and build upon these bedrock protections during deployment to maximize meaningful opportunities for American workers.
This approach can address multiple national priorities simultaneously and avoid duplicative efforts, maximizing IIJA’s wide-reaching equity mission.

Governor Walz’s 10-year Economic Expansion Plan includes broadband

Yesterday Governor Walz reported

Governor Tim Walz today announced a ten-year economic expansion plan at Wyoming Machine in Stacy, Minnesota. The Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion today released the 28-page report, titled “Minnesota’s Moment: A Roadmap for Economic Expansion,” which offers long-term steps to continue improving Minnesota’s economy.

One of the Actionable strategies is broadband…

Achieve equitable access to affordable broadband Internet

Here’s more info…

Achieve equitable access to affordable broadband Internet
Ensure every child has access to the Internet, appropriate hardware, training and online learning.
Provide affordable access to broadband Internet, appropriate hardware, and training for every person in Minnesota to expand digital equity and access to government services, health care, jobs, community resources, and social connection.
Drive economic competitiveness for Minnesota and enable communities throughout the State to attract and retain residents and businesses by providing affordable broadband access.

And

COMMIT TO INFRASTRUCTURE – IF MINNESOTA’S COMMITMENTS TO INFRASTRUCTURE ARE SUCCESSFUL, IN 10 YEARS WE WILL SEE:
All Minnesota businesses and households have access to high-speed broadband Internet
Increased home ownership, particularly by those who have historically faced disparity gaps
Decrease the percentage of Minnesotans who are cost-burdened with their housing
Minnesota nationally recognized as a transportation leader that supports the workforce