Duluth is looking at expanding fiber and reducing costs through competition

Duluth News Tribune reports

Duluth reports that just 6% of it residents have direct access to a high-speed fiber optic network at present. In her “State of the City” address earlier this year, Mayor Emily Larson said Duluthians struggle with “unreasonably high prices, unreliable service or no viable access altogether.

“This is unacceptable and holding us back as a community,” she said.

In April, the Duluth Economic Development Authority approved up to $65,000 in funding to hire Entrypoint LLC to examine the prospects of building out a city-owned fiber optic network. The same firm, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has also advised the city of Superior as it developed plans for a $31 million open-access network, that would be municipally owned and equally available for multiple internet service providers to use.

Update…

On Monday night, the Duluth City Council received an update on that analysis and received its first glimpse of a proposed Digital Access Master Plan.

The document proposes Duluth launch a pilot project in Lincoln Park next year at an anticipated cost of $7 million to $9 million. This would involve building out a primarily underground fiber optic network to serve about 1,900 customers next year.

After a full year of operating that network, Duluth would then decide whether to continue building out a city-wide network at an anticipated total cost of $76 million to $79 million.

If the Lincoln Park pilot project plan gains council backing, Chris Fleege, director of Duluth’s planning and economic development division, said up to $4 million could be drawn from levy-neutral one-time economic development funding sources within the city’s general fund.

They plan to apply for a Border to Border grant and recoup costs through service fees to customers…

Larson said the fiber optic network promises to result in real savings and dramatically improved service for residents.

“We are already, as a community, paying a significant amount to ensure that there is connectivity,” she said, pointing out that the city collectively pays about $29.5 million annually for service to 36,000 households, with customers paying an average of about $68 per month.

“With this plan, we know and have the data that … the total monthly cost to residents would be between $30 and $55. That is a significant savings,” she said.

 

Update on East Central Energy’s push to get better broadband to Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec, and Pine Counties

The Isanti-Chisago Country Star gives an update on East Central Energy’s journey to providing better broadband to residents within ECE’s electricity service area, which includes around 65,000 members over 14 counties, including Isanti, Chisago, Kanabec, and Pine Counties. Here’s an abridged look at the timeline that Isanti-Chisago Country Star provides…

  • ECE’s Board of Directors, back in November 2021, approved moving forward with developing a plan for a full-fiber-to-the-home project. According to a press release announcing the plan, ECE stated that the cost of such a project could be as much as $300 million. Because of that, ECE Vice President Ty Houglum stated that the only way ECE could make it work would be through appropriate outside funding.
  • During the June 15 North 65 Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Jahnz expounded on that position.
    “What we’re doing right now is a campaign to raise awareness that ECE is a great candidate to provide fiber-to-home across our service territory,” Jahnz said. “We are working with state and federal folks to talk about why that’s important and why we can be the best option for that.”
  • Jahnz said that in March, ECE applied for its first grant, which is for “a little bit of Wisconsin, a little bit in Pine County, a little in Kanabec, stretching over to Mille Lacs and up to Aitkin.” (see shaded area on map)
    He said that one grant would be $48 million in scope, with it equally being divided between the grant and a low-interest loan.
  • Besides that snafu [LTD Broadband may get RDOF funding – but I’ve written about that before], however, Jahnz is confident ECE will be able to obtain funding for a majority of its members’ areas.
    “To date, the area that we’re talking about, no one wants to go,” he concluded. “Even with funding, no one wants to go there. It’s one thing to get the money to build it. It’s another thing to have the wherewithal to maintain it, take care of it, repair it. We’ve been here 85 years, and I think we do a pretty good job of standing things back up when they fall down.”

EVENT June 29: Le Sueur County Broadband Planning Fair 2.0

An invitation for folks in Le Sueur County, a good idea for leaders in other counties…

We are hosting another Le Sueur County Broadband Fair! We have updated information from the last fair.

  • Again meet providers, learn about future plans for Le Sueur County, an opportunity to buy BBQ dinner.

June 29th, 2022
Le Sueur County Fairgrounds
4 H Building
320 S Plut Avenue
Le Center, MN. 56057
3pm to 7pm

  • Our updated survey has new data on speed testing and mapping for county planning.

  • Forward this email, invite your friends and neighbors to the event. Here is a link to download the flyer, print and post:

  • Post the Event flyer

  • Visit event page

  • Like our Facebook Page: Le Sueur County Broadband Initiative

  • Our next event will be in August at the Le Sueur County Fair, look for our broadband booth.

The skinny on Fixed Wireless vs Fiber

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society have published a report on Fixed Wireless Technologies and Their Suitability for Broadband Delivery.  The full report is detailed and will be a great asset to folks in the policy and planning trenches making decisions about what to choose where and when. For the rest of us, there are helpful charts that give us a understandable look at key characteristics (such as cost)…

And the executive summary also helps put things into perspective for folks who need to understand it but not deploy it…

  • Fixed-wireless technologies will continue to improve but will not match the performance of fiber-optic networks—primarily because the existing and potential bandwidth of fiber is thousands of times higher than wireless. Also, fixed-wireless networks have inherent capacity limitations that sharply limit the number of users on a network using a given amount of spectrum.

  • Fixed-wireless network coverage is adversely affected by line-of-sight obstructions (including buildings and seasonal foliage) and weather. While a fiber network can physically connect every household in a service area (and deliver predictable performance), it is significantly more complex for a fixed-wireless network to deliver a line of sight to every household in a service area.

  • Scalability is a critical challenge to fixed-wireless deployments, both technically and financially. A given amount of wireless spectrum is capable of supporting a given amount of network capacity. If the number of network users increases or users need more bandwidth, the network operator must increase the spectrum (which is both scarce and extremely expensive—and may not be possible), upgrade the technology, or add antennas. It is challenging to design a fixed wireless network that will provide sufficient, robust upstream and downstream capacity and reach all the addresses in unserved areas.

  • The fastest fixed-wireless technologies (such as those that use millimeter-wave spectrum) are effective in delivering short-range service to closely grouped households in urban and suburban settings. These technologies are largely unsuitable for serving rural communities because of the typical geographic dispersion of addresses and the lack of mounting structures (such as towers or building rooftops).

  • Fiber is sustainable, scalable, and renewable. It offers greater capacity, predictable performance, lower maintenance costs, and a longer technological lifetime than fixed-wireless technologies. Fiber service is not degraded by line-of-sight issues and is not affected by the capacity issues that constrain fixed wireless networks.

Murray County approves $500,000 ARPA for broadband and plans to apply for MN Border to Border funds

The Globe reports

The Murray County Board of Commissioners convened a special session earlier this week to discuss funding options for broadband in Murray County and American Rescue Plan expenditures.

Based on a 2018 feasibility study, estimates are it would cost more than $21 million to get broadband installed across Murray County, a task that was ruled unfeasible without a private partnership, multiple rounds of grants, or both. The same study found that, were broadband available, roughly 2,690 customers would take advantage of the service.

They made some decisions…

Murray County currently has $500,000 set aside in ARPA funds that can be used. Other grants in the 30% to 40% matching range were also discussed, with the acknowledgment that most would require approval. Most grants are going to require a financial commitment from a local government.

The Board resolved to apply for the Border-to-Border grant while using $500,000 in ARPA funds as the county’s investment requirement, and see how much area they could cover with those funds. Meanwhile, they said they would address the matter further at a June 21 meeting, should more funding be needed. The board also suggested looking into partnering with internet service providers such as Woodstock Communications and Lismore Telecom for a joint grant project.

Commissioner Lori Gunnick noted that without broadband, Murray County was likely to continue to see a population decline.

RESOURCE: Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society shares…

This week, the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society released a new guidebook for communities that want to create their own broadband vision and goals and pursue the best possible broadband solutions for their area.

Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program a collaboration of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and Blandin Foundation. Blandin originally designed the Accelerate Program for Minnesota, creating many of the tools shared in this guidebook. The Benton Institute is implementing the Accelerate Program in Illinois and other states with the support of Heartland Forward and its Connecting the Heartland initiative.

Guidebook author Bill Coleman provides an intro to the publication at https://www.benton.org/blog/helping-communities-prepare-broadband-opportunity

Find the new publication at https://www.benton.org/publications/Accelerate

Scandia MN gets ARPA and RDOF funds for better broadband (Washington County)

The County Messenger reports

Last month, MidCo started work on the city’s 2022 internet expansion program. In 2020, the city of Scandia and the Internet Action Committee (IAC), established the expansion program as part of a five-year plan to increase internet speeds and accessibility within Scandia.

The goal is to add an average of 200 homes per year for the next five years (2020-2024). The city has been working with county, state and federal resources to secure funding for the project. “The city’s goal is to provide high-speed internet coverage to citizens of Scandia quickly at the lowest cost to the city by leveraging grants,” said City Administrator for Scandia, Ken Cammelliri.

Earlier this spring, the City of Scandia and MidCo were awarded a $100,000 grant through Washington County. Washington County was allocating $2 million for investments in broadband seeking request for funds. Cities, Townships and broadband providers were eligible to apply. Eligible project areas include any unserved or underserved area within Washington County. The city of Scandia was one of the first to apply for the grant. Funds for the grant come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“For purposes of the ARPA broadband grant, an unserved or underserved area includes households or businesses that are not currently serviced by a wireline connection that delivers reliable broadband service with a minimum speeds of 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload,” explained Jan Lucke, Deputy County Administrator for Washington County.

In addition to the grant, MidCo also received dollars from the Federal Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF.)

More detail…

“The build-out for 2022 includes 48 houses that will be covered by RDOF. The project area that’s involved with the grant money from Washington County is what we refer to as Oak Hill Rd North,” he explained.

“The remaining 114 homes for this year are to be covered by the City of Scandia and Washington County grants.”

The funds will help offset the costs for the 2022 construction season. The cost to the city will be $219,000. The cost to MidCo will be $259,736.

 

IRRR approved $166,000 broadband grants in White Township and Ash Lake Area (St Louis County)

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation reports in an email newsletter

Approximately $7.1 million in grants and other funding was approved at today’s Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board meeting. Total combined project investment is approximately $83 million. The projects are expected to increase the regional tax base, create permanent and construction jobs, provide essential services, support higher education and expand outdoor recreation. The infrastructure grants combined are anticipated to impact 46 jobs and create 356 construction jobs.

Here are the grants that related to broadband…

Broadband Infrastructure Grants: $166,000

Agency Investment $166,000 | Total Investment $450,165 | Leverage 1.7 : 1

  • White Township – Wynne Ridge & Rock N Pines Roads (Giants Ridge Area): $65,000 to expand Mediacom fiber optic to serve up to 25 unserved households in White Township.
  • Paul Bunyan Communications – Unorganized Township/Ash Lake Area (North of Orr): $101,000 to expand Paul Bunyan Communication fiber optic to serve up to 75 unserved households in the Ash Lake area. 

OPPORTUNITY: 2022 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers Applications Open!

An opportunity from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)

Digital Inclusion Trailblazers is a public inventory of local government initiatives promoting digital literacy and broadband access for underserved residents. NDIA first launched this effort in 2016 as an advocacy tool for local, state and national digital inclusion leadership, and as a handy database of examples for communities interested in taking similar steps themselves. The list also serves as an honor roll of local government initiatives that promote digital literacy and broadband access for underserved residents. With support from Google Fiber and help from a Working Group of our affiliates, NDIA identifies local governments that are Digital Inclusion Trailblazers using six indicators, listed below, based on documentation submitted by the candidates. Trailblazers are models for other local governments to pursue digital inclusion efforts in their own communities.

Trailblazer Indicators:

  1. Your local government has, or directly funds, at least one full-time staff dedicated to digital  inclusion initiatives, policies and/or programs.
  2. Your local government has a digital inclusion plan or is in the process of developing a plan.
  3. Representatives of your local government participate in an open-access digital inclusion coalition.
  4. Your local government has conducted or plans to conduct and publish survey research on Internet access and use by your residents.
  5. Your local government directly funds community digital inclusion programming.
  6. Your local government is taking steps to increase affordability of home broadband service.

We invite any other local government that fits one or more of these indicators to apply to be a 2022 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer. The application form provides a check-list and documentation requirement for each indicator.

Little Falls and Morrison County making plans for better broadband

Morrison County Record reports

Officials from Morrison County and the city of Little Falls discussed how they could work together to improve broadband service throughout the county, Monday, during a joint meeting.

County Administrator Matt LeBlanc told the group that, over the weekend, the Minnesota Legislature had passed a bill that included a $110 million investment in broadband throughout the state. That funding includes $50 million in state money for broadband grants and $60 million from the capital projects fund for grants to extend, map and buildout broadband infrastructure.

LeBlanc said the county was not actively involved in or leading a project to expand broadband in the county, but it has worked with two companies that are looking to increase capacity in certain areas. Those are Sytek, which is based in Upsala, and East Central Energy, located in Braham.

The county’s involvement, to this point, has been to provide letters of endorsement on grants for each company. Sytek’s service would focus on the southwestern portion of Morrison County, whereas East Central Energy’s would cover the southeastern part of the county in an application that also includes expanded service in Kanabec and Pine counties.

The Mayor of Little Falls was looking to get involved in the projects but there are issues with eligibility of a town that according to the maps, seems to be served…

Radermacher said, according to a map of broadband service areas within the county, the northwestern and northeastern portions of the county are well covered. The southern part of the county — which would be covered in the proposed projects from Sytek and East Central Energy — along with areas in and around the city of Little Falls are the biggest problem areas.

Previously, the city of Little Falls worked with CTC to build out fiber for the industrial parks and downtown Little Falls. They’ve also hooked up to most city-owned facilities.

However, Radermacher said there are several residential areas in the city that are considered to be served, but are not getting the speeds advertised by providers. He said he has expressed his concerns with those providers, but has essentially been told they are “making improvements.”

The City Administrator previously worked in Madison (MN), a town that was left out of an ARRA funding 10 years ago and was subsequently cut out of the fiber to the home network built back then. (Coincidentally, Madison is finally getting fiber this month!)

Radermacher said he had discussions with former County Administrator Deb Gruber — prior to her leaving the position in August 2021 — about the city and county partnering with additional providers to come in and do another large-scale application. He said that was something in which the city would be “very interested.”

Further, Radermacher said he wants to avoid a situation like he experienced prior to coming to Little Falls, when he worked for the city of Madison. In that case, Lac qui Parle County received a federal grant to build out broadband service to the entire county.

What he said happened was, providers to the city of Madison challenged it, so the town of 1,500 was left out of the grant.

“Living there — we are in the same boat,” Radermacher said. “We had a couple of providers, but they’re not providing the advertised service that they’re saying. We were called this ‘doughnut hole’ of isolation when it came to broadband. I fear that (something) similar could happen if these grants start coming through.”

Fed broadband funding lessons from 2010 help with funding today: Madison & Appleton MN finally getting fiber!

It feels like the before-times, out on the road talking to folks in rural Minnesota about broadband and more. Traveling with Mary Magnuson, we made a few stops this week, starting with the UMVRDC (Upper Minnesota River Valley Regional Development Commission) to chat with Dawn Hegland and Kevin Ketelson.

UMVRDC supports Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties in Western MN. Broadband-wise this list includes some of the best and worst served counties in Minnesota.

Communities need awareness and education

Dawn has been working with the Blandin Foundation since the early days of MIRC (2009); she knows her stuff. Yet, as I say some of their counties are well served and others aren’t. One reason is that some communities are willing to invest, and some have not been. It makes the case for continued need for awareness and education.

Communities like LqP were early into the game, getting ARRA funding back around 2010, when some communities were still asking what broadband was. Post pandemic few communities (or community leaders) need a definition for broadband but the ones who needed it before were at a serious disadvantage during the pandemic shut downs. Swaths of communities were left to try to work, study and stay healthy in communities with inadequate and unreliable Internet access. While just down the road, folks had fiber.

So, while generally people understand the need now (and it remains a top concern in the annual regional survey), people don’t understand the ins and outs of technology. People think “the government will take care of it” or don’t appreciate the difference between fiber and satellite. Decision makers are often consumers online (getting email or watching videos) not producers (uploading work files, homework videos or selling online). They think because they are happy with local connections that others will be as well. But that is often not the case, especially if they are trying to recruit new businesses or young families to the area.

Understanding the landscape helps

Understanding the technology is only half the battle for community leaders. Especially now, you need to understand the funding options because rural broadband is expensive and a lot of State and Federal money will be going to deploy broadband over the next few years. But the applications are onerous and it’s important to find the right fit to serve the whole community, which leads to a long broadband story in the area with a soon-to-be happy ending.

As I mentioned earlier, LqP was an early adopter. They got federal funding for FTTH more than 10 years ago … to most of the county. Unfortunately, Madison, the county seat, was not eligible for the upgrade because the maps showed that they were already “served.” In 2010, that meant they has access of speeds of at least 10 Mbps down and 1 up. So for 10 years rural LqP has had fiber and the county seat has not. They have been actively looking for help to funding to support fiber deployment (because even the county seat in LqP is pretty rural) but had not been successful until now.

Last summer, UMVRDC helped Madison and Appleton apply for CARES funding from the state to build better broadband. (Appleton was in a similar position as Madison, but in Swift County.) The requirements and conditions of the grants were different than other opportunities and it turns out a good fit for both areas. There were awarded the money and Acira is working on Madison now and soon to be moving to Appleton. (Mary and I happened to run into folks from Acira in town too. They were excited to finish the jobs they started 10+ years ago!)

While I’m happy to share the good news of Madison and Appleton, I offer it also as a cautionary tale. Again, unprecedented funding is going into broadband in the next few years but most folks I’ve heard from feel that it won’t cover universal broadband and areas left unserved (or underserved) will have a difficult time catching up once the money is gone. That gets me back to the first point – communities need awareness and education.

Recommendations for digital equity planning from EveryoneOn

Last week, EveryoneOn released their final report from a three-part series on the digital divide during the pandemic. he report, State of Digital Equity, highlights lessons from surveys and focus groups with income insecure households and digital inclusion practitioners, and offers recommendations for digital equity planning. The report is interesting and well timed given the need for states and communities to come together with a plan to invest in a better technology future. Below are their recommendations for digital equity planning…

  1. Lead with an equity framework: As a digital inclusion practitioner highlighted, “Equity needs to be in the center.” With billions of dollars directed to states and local communities in the coming years, it is imperative that policymakers and decision makers ensure funds are used to reach and benefit all communities, in particular those who are underserved and have been disproportionately affected by the digital divide. It is equally important to be explicit about equity and inclusion goals while also including digital inclusion practitioners and community voices in coalitions, planning activities and advocacy efforts.
  2. Facilitate community-driven messaging: Focus group participants and especially practitioners underscored the importance of the local dimension of digital inclusion. Not only do circumstances differ across communities, but reaching target populations who need help getting and staying online happens best when community members connect with one another, which is where trust is strong. This makes the notion of digital navigators highly relevant. These are ambassadors from the community who are trained to help others find the resources, e.g., discount plans and free computers, to start and sustain their internet journeys. In recent months, many communities have piloted digital navigator models, including the organizations that participated in the focus groups. The practitioners highlighted the important role digital navigators have played in recent months to promote the Affordable Connectivity Program, the new federal internet subsidy program.
  3. Localize and centralize digital resources: Not only are community-driven initiatives key, but having a trusted and accessible place in the community for digital resources is crucial. People need a one-stop shop that gives them access in one place to the digital assistance they may need. The data shows that local nonprofits, public libraries and other community anchor institutions are far more trusted than internet service providers and the government. For enrolling in discount or free internet plans, it is also important that people be able to complete that transaction in one visit. Complicated processes for determining eligibility for such programs inhibits participation. If people have to leave a place that they have gone to sign up to retrieve a document to demonstrate eligibility, they often do not return. Easy-to-use enrollment processes at trusted community places are foundational to promoting digital equity. In addition, as devices become more prevalent in households and new adopters come into play, people require hands-on technical support. A one-stop shop or community space that offers technical support, coupled with internet enrollment assistance and digital skills training opportunities, addresses the multiple barriers that new adopters, in particular, face. As documented in the focus groups, people are eager to return to in-person activities, including digital skills training, as the pandemic eases.
  4. Prioritize people over networks: Practitioners emphasized that closing the digital divide requires people as much (if not more than) networks. The digital divide is not primarily a technological problem, but instead a social problem. Yet practitioners worried about a tendency among some stakeholders to equate fixing the digital divide with building more networks. The social nature of the digital divide means people-driven solutions have to be the main part of the equation, and this entails having people in the community, i.e., boots on the ground to address the problem. This puts the notion of scaling solutions in another light. Scaling a solution, in the business sense, connotes finding the easily replicable digital solution that can go viral quickly and reach the masses. That is not as relevant for a social problem. Rather, “seed” is more appropriate. Fostering digital equity requires seeding initiatives in places where community members are cultivating solutions. This requires patience and clear thinking about “seed versus scale” to address digital equity. It may be possible to scale digital equity solutions, but only after models have been cultivated in and for specific communities.
  5. Engage and fund organizations doing the work: In the last two years, many organizations across the country have become digital inclusion experts in order to ensure their communities are connected and have the devices needed to participate in various online activities. At the same time, organizations that have been focused on digital equity since before the pandemic, including those that participated in the focus groups, have expanded their services exponentially to meet the demand. These are the organizations that states and local jurisdictions should engage to both inform the design and implementation of initiatives and fund to drive the work locally. Nonprofits, workforce development agencies, libraries and others are trusted voices across diverse communities and also know how to reach the hardest[1]to-reach populations. And to ensure digital inclusion efforts are successful, community partners need to be funded appropriately. Whether building out new infrastructure or a community wireless network, launching an awareness campaign to drive adoption of the Affordable Connectivity Program, or creating a computer refurbishment program, sufficient funding should be allocated to cover all costs associated with a successful implementation, including all personnel costs. As we heard from the organizations that participated in the focus groups, without appropriate funding, digital inclusion initiatives fall short of meeting goals

Doug Dawson’s tips for BEAD (Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment) applicants

Doug Dawson (CCG) is one of the smartest broadband guys I know. Doug is going to be working on a series of blog posts on BEAD (Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment) funding the applications. If you are thinking about BEAD funding, or you want to keep an eye on things, I recommend following his blog. I might not post about each edition in her series but today he starts with an outline of the issues he may be diving into soon… (my quote below is abridged)

  • The Grants Draw a Firm Technology Line.
    This includes only fiber-optics, cable company hybrid-fiber coaxial technology, DSL, and fixed wireless service supported by licensed spectrum. Every other technology does not count as broadband in terms of defining areas eligible for the grants. The NOFO means that grants can be used to overbuild areas served by satellite broadband or by WISPs using unlicensed spectrum – regardless of the speeds being provided.
  • The Grants Are Complicated.
    These are going to be the most complicated broadband grants ever – more complicated even than ReConnect grants.
  • The Grants Add a Lot of Cost to Projects.
    Some of the big ones include environmental and historical preservation studies; prevailing wages for grants over $5 million; bank letters of credit and a legal opinion on the lines of credit; construction contractors must certify commitments to workforce development, including participation in apprenticeship programs; buy America requirements that will drive up the cost of materials; heavy-duty reporting requirements that layer on work after taking the grant.
  • The Grants Are Clearly Stacked Against New ISPs.
    This is ironic because the rules as written by Congress and alluded to throughout the NOFO talk about favoring what the NOFO calls non-traditional broadband providers like non-profits, electric cooperatives, local governments, public utility districts, and Tribes.
  • The Grants Want to See Skin in the Game.
    While grants can be as high as 75%, the NTIA expects States to award grants to applicants that ask for the lowest amount of grant funding.
  • There are Some Gotchas In the Financial Requirements.
    [To start] an applicant must get a bank letter of credit just to apply for the grant – something that’s expensive and not easy for many entities to get.
  • This is Going to Overwhelm State Broadband Offices.
    The complexity of the grant rules will overwhelm most state grant offices, which are often newly staffed.
  • Penalties for Non-performance.
    Penalties against non-performing grant recipients can include the imposition of additional award conditions, payment suspension, award suspension, grant termination, de-obligation/clawback of funds, and debarment of organizations and/or personnel from using future federal funds.

Kandiyohi County, Charter Communications partner on $800,000 broadband project to serve 170 customers with ARPA funds

West Central Tribune reports…

Elected officials from Kandiyohi County and representatives from Charter Communications symbolically broke ground Monday on an $800,000 project that Charter said will bring broadband internet service to more than 170 rural, unserved homes and small businesses.

The event in New London Township was also a celebration of the partnerships between local elected officials and Charter Communications that made the project possible.

The agreement between Kandiyohi County and Charter Communications includes nearly $240,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding that was secured by the county, along with more than $563,000 in private investment from Charter.

RESOURCE: Stronger Together: Federal funding and planning strategies

There’s not much to say about the resource (Stronger Together: Federal funding and planning strategies designed to promote sustainable economic development in rural America) so I’ll borrow from the document itself…

Together, the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) are pleased to offer this joint planning resource guide, designed to help you eliminate barriers and encourage collaboration among your stakeholders.

It is a series of super useful tables. More of a reference work than a coffee top (or even night stand) book. It would be easy to spur conversation based on the info or get follow up information.