Minnesota Iron Range Communities gear up for better broadband adoption

Yesterday six new Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) – all from the Iron Range (so now they are IRBCs) – met to get started on their path to greater community broadband engagement.

The project born is of a partnership between Blandin, IRRRB (Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and St. Louis County). Yesterday they met to learn more about the IRBC program, the process and each other.

It’s a great group with a healthy competitive collaboration among them. Several communities have joined together as teams for the first time. It will be exciting to see what gets done in the area.

Below are videos from each community on their hopes and expectations for their projects.

Senator Klobuchar joins Broadband Policy Goals Event tomorrow (Nov 30) – available online

Promises to be interesting…

Broadband Policy Goals Event with Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to be Held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 30th in Washington, DC

Washington, DC — Next Century Cities, the Schools Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, and US Ignite will host a major policy event, Transforming Communities: Broadband Goals for 2017 and Beyond, on November 30, 2016 from 9:00am-12:15pm at the Google office in Washington, DC.

The event will feature US Senator Angus King (I-ME), Senator John Boozman (R-AR), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and will bring together broadband champions from the federal, state and local level, community leaders including mayors and heads of anchor institutions, and broadband policy experts.

Transforming Communities will feature keynote conversations and panel discussions on how to expand access to critical next-generation broadband infrastructure in communities nationwide and key policy goals and needs for the new Trump Administration and Congress. It will also include demonstrations of innovative civic applications enabled through gigabit technology.

The event will be livestreamed here and details on the agenda can be found here. Media planning to attend should RSVP to Katie Watson at Katie@NextCenturyCities.org.


Senator John Boozman (R-AR)
Senator Angus King (I-ME)

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Larry Strickling, U.S. Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary
Mayor Dana Kirkham (Ammon, ID)
Mayor Andy Berke (Chattanooga, TN)
Superintendent Dallas Dance (Baltimore County Schools)
R. David Edelman, Special Assistant to President Obama
Susan Crawford, Harvard Law School
Blair Levin, Brookings Institute
Other national and local broadband champions and policy experts


Transforming Communities: Broadband Goals for 2017 and Beyond


9:00am- 12:15pm ET
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

25 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20001

Nominate a Digital Inclusion Leader for Next Century Cities and Google Fiber Award

As always, I’d love to see Minnesota sweep the awards – and the award is open to non-Next Century Cities too…

Next Century Cities and Google Fiber Announce Digital Inclusion Leadership Competition

2017 Awards Will Recognize Successful City Governments and Programs Bridging the Digital Divide

Pittsburgh, PA (November 18, 2016) – Next Century Cities, a nonprofit membership organization of over 150 mayors and city leaders dedicated to ensuring access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband internet, today joined with Google Fiber to announce  the Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards program at the National League of Cities’ City Summit in Pittsburgh, PA. The 2017 Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards, first given in 2015, will celebrate city governments who are leading programs or investing in community-based organizations to tackle barriers to internet adoption.

“Approximately 50 million Americans don’t have internet in their homes. Families affected by the digital divide, many of whom are from lower-income neighborhoods, are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing homework, applying for jobs or staying in touch with loved ones,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “Whether cities are leading or partnering on programs, city governments have a major role to play in getting residents the digital access and resources they need, and we look forward to celebrating their innovations with the 2017 Digital Inclusion Awards.”

All submissions will be due February 10th and winners will be announced Spring 2017. You can learn more about previous winners and the awards program here.

The 2017 Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards will feature two categories. Two winners will be chosen in each category based on the program’s ability to engage the community by providing digital training, internet access, and hardware at a reasonable cost to a diverse range of participants; an additional entrant in each category will be recognized for a uniquely innovative approach to bridging the digital divide. Award categories include:

  • Leader in Digital Inclusion Best Practices: this award will recognize existing programs with over a year of work in addressing the digital divide.
  • Most Promising New Plan: this award will recognize particularly promising new programs for ensuring digital inclusion in a community.

The winning projects from the inaugural 2015 Digital Inclusion Awards include:

On December 13 at 3:00pm ET, Next Century Cities will be hosting a public webinar to share digital inclusion best practices and offer details of the award application process. Information about the webinar and the awards program can be found on the Next Century Cities website at nextcenturycities.org/digital-inclusion-awards/.


Webinar Archive: Census 2020: The Count Starts Now

Pleased to share the information from yesterday’s webinar – Census 2020: The Count Starts Now…

Minnesota works when the Census works. We have a better Minnesota when everyone is counted. Everyone gets a role in our government and their civil rights are supported. Dollars get allocated to help families and communities close opportunity gaps. We churn the wheels of “small d” democracy with data to plan, make good decisions and measure the impact of our work. We help grow jobs and our local economy by providing every business with the data it needs to make smart investments.

But, we don’t gain any of the benefits if we do not make sure everyone is able to participate. Some barriers have always been there; families do not think to count their young children, people of color are not counted, we miss people who are new to our communities or we miss people who live in rural areas. Making getting a full count even harder in rural communities is the increased reliance on computers, smart phones, tablets and other devices to collect Census responses in 2020 – not easy task in communities underserved by broadband.

To get a full count in Minnesota, we need to be talking with state and federal lawmakers so they organize and fund an effective Census and American Community Survey.  We also need to start planning how we are going to organize ourselves – our own communities. Who from your community should be involved in helping with the advocacy and making sure we have a good plan for Minnesota?  Certainly you, but what other partners in business, the public sector, nonprofit communities or your faith community should be involved? Send your thoughts to MACS (Minnesotans for the American Community Survey) http://www.minnesotansforacs.org/.

Minnesota Broadband Task Force Meeting Notes: request $100 million for grants and $10 million for Office of Broadband Development

The Task Force met today to hammer out their report. The different committees had submitted their section drafts to John Dukich (from MHTA) to combined them, select recommendations to include and write portions of the report to meet the need. Today they met to modify/approve his draft in their committees then read the report together for any edits or modifications.

Then they met to discuss recommendations, including how much to request for the Office of Broadband Development budget and future grants. After much heated debate they agreed to recommend $10 million for the OBD and $100 million ($450 million per year) for grants.

The debate was about how much to request for grants. Some folks felt that with an expected dip in the State budget that $100 million would be more palatable than the $200 million request last year. Others felt that the outstanding need demanded more funding. It was surprising that many of the providers at the table were most vocal about wanting the lower amount, especially since it seems that the money would likely be invested in their industry.

Here’s the copy of the draft report; you can see video of much of the meeting below.


And here are my notes…  Continue reading

November 2 Minnesota Broadbdand Task Force agenda

I plan to attend and take notes…

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
November 2, 2016
Minnesota Senate Office Building-Room 2308
95 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55155

10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

  • 10:00 a.m. — 10:15 a.m.  Introductions, Approval of Minutes, Public Comments
  • 10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  Update from the Office of Broadband Development (OBD)
  • 10:30 a.m. — 12:00 p.m.  Task Force Review and Discussion of Draft Report Content
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Task Force Discussion of Policy Recommendations
  • 2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.  Task Force Discussion on Finalizing Report—What and Who
  • 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Wrap-up, Plans for December Meeting, Adjourn

Free Webinar Nov 10: Census 2020: The Count Starts Now

censusJoin us for Census 2020: The Count Starts Now
Free Webinar
Thursday, November 10 – 3 to 4 pm CT
with presenter Bob Tracy from the Minnesota Council on Foundations
Register here!

The Census isn’t until 2020 but the work to make sure we get a full and accurate count is happening right now. Big changes are in store and it takes time to get them right. This Census is going to depend significantly on electronic reporting requiring internet infrastructures to handle massive user demand. Old challenges such has how to get good counts in rural areas, among infants and young children, on territorial lands or among new immigrants still need better solutions. At lot’s at stake, including availability of public dollars to close disparity gaps, data to drive economic development and smart business choices and fair representation in government. Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Alliance of Latino Elected Officials Educational Fund, Joan Naymark, executive director of Minnesotans for the American Community Survey and Bob Tracy, director of public policy and communication for Minnesota Council on Foundations are working to ensure accurate counts nationally and in Minnesota. Find out what you can do to ready your community for the 2020 Census, because Minnesota is better when we all count.