Google to give $1B, help U.S. workers find jobs

According to MSN News

Google will invest $1 billion over the next five years in nonprofit organizations helping people adjust to the changing nature of work, the largest philanthropic pledge to date from the Internet giant.

Here’s a high level look at their plan…

Google will make grants in its three core areas: education, economic opportunity and inclusion. Already in the last few months, it has handed out $100 million of the $1 billion to nonprofits, according to Pichai.

The largest single grant — $10 million, the largest Google’s ever made — is going to Goodwill, which is creating the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator. Over the next three years Goodwill, a major player in workforce development, aims to provide 1 million people with access to digital skills and career opportunities. Pichai says 1,000 Google employees will be available for career coaching.

In all, Google employees will donate 1 million volunteer hours to assist organizations like Goodwill trying to close the gap between the education and skills of the American workforce and the new demands of the 21st century workplace, Pichai said.

Work is changing. It doesn’t seem like schools are catching up. Although I do hear about other programs (Coder DoJos for kids, Robotics, Hackfests…) that are leading the way. Hopefully Google can help cushion the disruption for students, workers and businesses!

Blandin Webinar Oct 12: The Smart Home: Energy, Security & Entertainment

Smart Home Showcase

Learn how integrated technology is changing the home environment and the role ubiquitous broadband networks play in this technology  deployment and use.  Energy management, lighting, security, entertainment and other functions are increasingly available and easy to deploy.  Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors will provide an overview of these tech possibilities.

Many are here today; others are coming fast.

When: Oct 12 at 3 pm
(Register here!)

Paul Bunyan Communications 2nd Annual GigaZone Gaming Championship this weekend

I’ve written about this before – but what a great excuse to get the whole family up to Bemidji (up for most of us) for fall colors and gaming. It is the perfect vacation for the right family!

2nd Annual GigaZone Gaming Championship This Friday and Saturday in Bemidji

Free and open to all, the event includes open console and arcade gaming along with gaming tournaments


(Bemidji, MN)  – The first stadium style eSports event in the region, the GigaZone Gaming Championship, returns to the Sanford Center Ballroom in Bemidji this Friday and Saturday.  The doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday and at 10 a.m. Saturday.


Northern Minnesota’s best League of Legends teams will compete for more than $4,500 in cash and prizes and the first match scheduled for 5 p.m.  The championship match is expected to start between 7:30-8 p.m. on Saturday.


In addition to the League of Legends Tournament, the public is invited to participate in open console and arcade gaming both days along with tournaments of Madden 18, Overwatch, Street Fighter 5, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Brothers, Magic the Gathering, and more.  Admission is free for tournaments and the event plus there will be a chance at great door prizes throughout.  There is also a Cosplay Contest for those who dress up and embrace their inner fantasy character with prizes of up to $200 for the top costume of the weekend.


“We’re excited to bring back GigaZone Gaming Championship to the region!  After our first event last year was a success we’ve expanded the fun to 2 days and added a lot more different open gaming and gaming tournaments.  There is a large gaming community in our area and this event is a way that we can give all gamers, whether competitive or just in it for fun, to come out and enjoy a one of a kind gaming weekend” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.


Consoles systems to try will include Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo Wii.  Games on the various console systems will include Madden 18, NHL18, Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart 8, Street Fighter V, and more.


Arcade games to play will include Ms Pac, Galaga, Big Buck Pro Hunter, Battletoads, Police Trainer, Alien vs Predator, Rush The Rock, Pirates of the Caribbean Pinball, Surfin’ Safari Tekken, Confidential Mission, Vapor TRX, Neo Geo, Silent Scope, and Pole Position.


“With the GigaZone providing Internet speeds up to a Gigabit per second it is the ultimate connection for the online gaming experience. Our cooperative has one of the largest rural fiber gigabit networks in the country and this event showcases the GigaZone Internet speeds and the impact it has on the overall gaming experience.” added Leo Anderson, Paul Bunyan Communications Digital Services Supervisor.


For more information on the GigaZone Gaming Championship visit


“We had such a great turnout last year and we hope even more will come to check it out this year. Concessions and GigaZone Gaming Championship merchandise which will be available for purchase too.  Whether you are a competitive gamer or like me, just a casual player, the GigaZone Gaming Championship has something for everyone,” added Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.


Average vacationer spends 9 hours of a one week vacation on social media

Time Out reports…

According to a study by Expedia, the average vacationer spends nine hours of a one-week-long trip browsing social media.

Time Out is a gig listing and entertainment magazine in bigger cities. I happened to notice the article while I was enjoying time in Chicago earlier this week. Their article goes on to introduce an app to help people stay offline while on vacation…

Stay Off Social, a new tool developed by Expedia that seeks to minimize the time people spend online while traveling by basically automizing the posting process. The tool first asks you to input your vacation data (destination, travel dates) and the amount of times you’d like to update your various profiles (options: every day or every two days). You’ll then choose from a series of generic photos and captions and program the tool to post on your behalf.

I have a different spin. Minnesota is home to great communities, resorts, restaurants, tourist sites. A fantastic way to promote your area to tourists is to get tourists to talk about you to their friends at home. So first – they need the broadband to do that. If you know your location is in a cell dead zone, it would be wise to offer WiFi.

Also make it easy to share info on your location. If you do have WiFi – be sure to include a login page with something fun to share on social media. A picture of notable attractions, a fun fact or video. (And make sure they can share it with the click of a button to multiple social media channels.) Invite people to follow you on multiple social media channels – and if they do mention you, especially if they tag you, be sure to interact. Like or comment on their post. Get the whole community involved by teaching them how to better use social media and encouraging folks to make it easy to interact and make it a point to interact. (You see someone posts a picture of the statue on Main Street – like it!)

I used to work with a lot of resorts. I know teens can be a tough market to reach – especially for family vacations. Social media can be an especially good way to reach them.

One clever thing I saw (not necessarily for teens) in Chicago – many statues around time have stories you can access by scanning a QR Code or visiting a specific website. (Check out what the lion at the Art Institute of Chicago.

GigaZone Gaming Update: Pre-Registration for Overwatch 3×3 and Madden 18 Tournaments Opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday, September 5th

The GigaZone Gaming Championship, the region’s stadium style e-Sporting event, returns to the Sanford Center Ballroom in Bemidji on Friday, September 29 and Saturday, September 30.


Part of the fun includes the chance to participate in various gaming tournaments and pre-registration for the Overwatch 3×3 and Madden 18 tournaments will open at 4 p.m. Tuesday, September 5.  Those interested can register at  Both tournaments are free to enter with prizes for top finishers but there is a limit of 32 teams.


“Overwatch and Madden are both extremely popular video games and we anticipate both tournaments will fill up quickly. It’s exciting to provide this opportunity so you can test yourself against others in the region and see how you come out.  The tournaments are free to enter and prizes will be awarded to the top four teams in each tournament.” said Leo Anderson, Paul Bunyan Communications Digital Services Supervisor.


“These are the 2 tournaments where pre-registration is required.  We are going to have a lot of other tournaments for people to play in with registration on-site like Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart 8, and Street Fighter 5.  We’ll also have open game play on arcade and console games throughout the 2 days,” added Anderson.


The main event is Northern Minnesota’s best League of Legends teams competing for more than $4,500 in cash and prizes on the GigaZone Gaming Championship stadium style stage.


For more information on the 2017 GigaZone Gaming Championships visit


“We’re excited to bring this back to our region!  Whether someone is a big time gamer or not the GigaZone Gaming Championship is a great chance for people to come together, have fun, try out a wide variety of video games, and experience the growing eSports phenomenon.” added Brian Bissonette, Paul Bunyan Communications Marketing Supervisor.

Good luck!


What makes a city smart? We can learn from NYC and others

ComputerWorld has a series on Smart Cities. They check out what’s happening in big cities and how they are using technology to make life better. Their changes are definitely different than rural Minnesota but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something we can learn here. This latest video looks at swapping out phone booths for charging WiFI stations. Something that’s probably worth considering if your rural town wants to attract tourists.

The beauty of the new charging stations is that it tracks use and presence of smartphones. It could be a great way to measure usage and visitors. The NYC stations are paid for with advertising. I’ve hearing about rural Minnesota cities using advertising or sponsorship to pay for public Wifi (on the welcome splash page).

Broadband is only one ingredient is success –relationship is another

Red Wing Ignite supports economic development in Red Wing based on community-wide access to gig broadband. They were a Blandin Broadband community. They’re a great example of maximizing the value of a gig by getting people to use it.

The Red Wing Republican Eagle recently posted a letter from Susan Sorensen Langer (founder of Live.Give.Save., won the annual Ignite Cup business competition in early 2017) about Red Wing Ignite’s role in that win.

First info on Live.Give.Save

Live.Give.Save. is a mobile app that makes saving and giving as easy as spending. We’re aiming it particularly at millennials. We call the concept “Spaving.” Every time you spend on yourself, you save for your future and give to someone in need without changing a thing. Together, we’re making the world better … one community, one person, one transaction at a time.

Now some background on the development of the business…

Kirsten Mikkelson Ford of Focus Design sparked everything off by recommending I meet Neela Mollgaard of Red Wing Ignite. That spark lit a flame of opportunities that continue today. Neela first invited me to apply to Red Wing Ignite’s accelerator program, followed by an introduction to Mark Thein of Small Business Development Center, who helped me develop my business financials, and then Shari Chorney of Red Wing Port Authority, who suggested I apply for a loan from agency’s newly created entrepreneurial fund.

I joined Ignite’s coworking office space and received a Port Authority loan to conduct marketing and develop a prototype. Kirsten, Neela, Mark and Shari participated in a “Design Thinking” session at The Nerdery (a large software development firm in Bloomington, Minn.,) to help inform and shape our prototype design. The prototype was completed in December 2015 and used to help solicit funding from prospective early-stage investors (aka, family and friends). I was introduced to the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation where I also applied for funding.

My company — Live.Give.Save. — became a formal corporate entity in February 2016 and I started raising capital, over-subscribing our seed round that summer. I hired a chief technology officer, Tim Dokken (who serendipitously grew up and graduated from Red Wing High School), to lead our technology development.

Now here’s the best part: While sitting around a table during one of our coworking updates at Ignite, I shared that we needed to establish a beta test for our product. I received a list of individuals to contact in the community and the concept of our community-led, controlled beta test was formed. …

We were recently invited to participate in the Ignite Cup — and won! — earning us a semifinalist position in the Minnesota Cup, the nation’s largest statewide startup competition.

I just had a funny conversation today about broadband and increase in jobs. I maintained that jobs was a 20th century measurement for a 21st century opportunity. I think this is a good example. You need broadband – but that’s not the only connection you need. Communities with broadband and support like Red Wing Ignite are well poised to take on their future!