EVENT June 9: Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable: Polco’s civic engagement platform

The next Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable will feature a presentation by Matt Fulton of Polco.  According to their website, “Polco’s civic engagement platform makes meaningful communication between community leaders and the people they serve not only possible, but enjoyable.”    See more at www.polco.us .  Be prepared to share how your community is using online tools to engage citizens and the benefits and challenges of that engagement.  The Blandin broadband team will share its experience of moving it Blandin Broadband Communities project development process online.  Join us Tuesday, June 9 at 9 am by registering here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwoc-2qrDotHNMilSss2LwHaw92XEhj3fqi .

Please share your ideas for future discussion topics to broadband@blandinfoundation.org

Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable Discussion Notes June 2, 2020

Today, our group learned about the broadband funding available via the federal Economic Development Administration.  Thanks to Robin Weiss and Jay Trusty from Southwest RDC for their excellent overview of the program.  You can also find a summary on the Blandin on Broadband blog.

Here are links to Development Commissions: http://www.mnado.org/contact/

Key learnings:

  • Lots of money – grants available up to $30 million
  • Grants are first come-first served so haste is required
  • The Regional Development Commissions are the best gateway to these dollars
  • Grants can require little (20%) to no match ($0)
  • Dollars can be used for broadband infrastructure or technology technical assistance, including adoption and use activities
  • Economic development considerations are important
  • There seems to be significant opportunity for all kinds of collaborative efforts on both construction and non-construction activities. The RDCs are talking about this.
  • It would be great to leverage DEED Border to Border dollars to get more federal dollars.

Next week, we will hear from Matt Fulton of POLCO (www.polco.com) who will showcase a cool technology for community engagement with local government.  Join us at 9 am on Tuesday morning.

EVENT: June 11 Blandin Broadband Communities vision meeting with Le Sueur County

Le Sueur County News reports…

Le Sueur County is inviting the public to help develop broadband projects in the county at Blandin Broadband Community Vision and Brainstorm meetings.  At these meetings, priorities will be determined and projects developed to improve Internet access and use in Le Sueur.

Le Sueur County was named one of five new Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) in January 2020. The BBC program provides planning, technical and financial support to communities that demonstrate the determination to bring the benefits of a broadband-enabled economy to their communities. The new communities will each have access to a $75,000 grant, but projects will have to meet Blandin Foundation standards in order to be funded. Successful projects in other communities have focused business technology websites and incubators, technology camps for school kids, online job training, and community marketing.

Due to COVID-19, Blandin Foundation has revised this program to be completely online. The process will use a combination of surveys and Zoom meetings to set goals and develop projects rather than the more traditional on-site process that Blandin Foundation has used in 40 other communities over the years. To participate, residents should go online to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QJKS9JY to complete an initial community survey. They can then choose to register for one or both of the two online interactive meetings. The Vision meeting will be June 11 at 1pm with the follow-up Brainstorm meeting on June 17 at 10am. Following the online meetings, community members will have a chance through a follow-up community survey to vote for and even volunteer for project teams to be led by various community organizations.

The Le Sueur County Blandin Broadband Community project is sponsored by Le Sueur County. Le Sueur County has been working for the past three years to advocate for improved broadband access across the county. Last year Bevcomm was awarded $1.8 million from State of Minnesota Border to Border grant program for improved internet access in Le Sueur County and planning is underway for 2020 grant funds. A community survey at https://www.co.le-sueur.mn.us/386/Le-Sueur-County-Broadband-Initiative has had over 700 responses about the need improved access.

EVENT June 2: Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable: State broadband funding

Join a group of community broadband advocates for their weekly broadband discussion. Next week, we will start the discussion with information on the federal Department of Commerce’s available broadband funding.  This program was covered in the Blandin on Broadband blog recently.  The dollars are available on a rolling basis so haste is required to get it.  We will talk about program rules and processes and possible strategies for consideration.  Maybe some opportunities for collaboration!

Once we wear out the above topic, we can shift to any other topics that attendees want to talk about.  Bring your ideas and questions.  Click here for to join us – or register in advance.


EVENT June 2: Minnesota Broadband Coalition Virtual Meeting Agrenda

Here is the agenda for the June 2 Minnesota Broadband Coalition Virtual Meeting…

Minnesota Broadband Coalition Virtual Meeting

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Please join this meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone:
You can also dial in using your phone.
(For supported devices, tap a one-touch number below to join instantly.)
United States: +1 (646) 749-3122 or One-touch: tel:+16467493122,,304599317#
Access Code: 304-599-317


  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Approval of February 25, 2020 Minutes
  • Financial Report
  • State Broadband Speed Test Initiative – Bill Coleman/Bernadine Joselyn
  • Office of Broadband Development Update – Angie Dickison
  • American Connection Project Broadband Coalition – Nathan Zacharias
  • Legislative Update (Session Recap/Upcoming Special Session) – Nathan Zacharias
  • Press Coverage of Broadband
  • Association of MN Counties Blue Ribbon Committee
  • New Fiscal Host – Southwest Regional Development Commission
  • Fundraising and New Membership
  • Current Federal Broadband Initiatives – Sen. Klobuchar/Rep. Craig Staff
  • Additional Business
  • Adjourn

Printable Agenda

May 26 Blandin Broadband Leadership Roundtable Discussion Summary:

I was happy that on the Tuesday morning after the Memorial Day holiday we had a dozen folks discussing community efforts to spur broadband adoption and user sophistication.  Using the Intelligent Community framework as a guide, I showcased some of the projects that our Blandin Broadband Communities have implemented over the past several years.

For the broadband pillar, I highlighted public wi-fi offered at the Chisholm Pocket Park, Rock County campgrounds, wi-fi on school buses and improved wi-fi at libraries.  For knowledge workforce, I talked about Leech Lake’s computer training tied to their workforce program, Swift County’s online welding program, and Red Wing’s Coder Dojo after-school program and Fond du Lac’s summer app camp for kids.  Digital Equality efforts highlighted PCs for People, Hibbing HRA’s broadband project in housing that they operate and Winona’s longstanding to connect new Americans with college students for computer training.  Innovation projects included multiple efforts at one-to-one business technology audits and counselling, Access North’s installation of Smart Home technology for older adults and those with disabilities and Hibbing’s use of iPads in health care.  Finally, in advocacy/marketing, I talked about Red Wing’s community calendar and web portal and Cannon Falls “Cannon Roots” branding campaign.

There was active discussion among participants about the implementation strategies for these projects as well as talk about the challenging task about how to make them sustainable once grant funds expire.  Participants also spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic has multiplied the benefits of these projects and accelerated adoption.

Great thanks to Robin Weiss of Southwest MN RDC for discussion about the new funds available through the federal Department of Commerce EDA program which can support new infrastructure and adoption and use.  The Blandin blog has a nice post on this program with all of the links.

Join us June 2nd at  9 am for our next roundtable discussion when we will focus on this EDA program and generate some ideas and strategies for applications.

EVENT June 2: Minnesota Broadband Coalition Virtual Meeting

From the MN Broadband Coalition

Save the Date!
Minnesota Broadband Coalition Virtual Meeting

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
1:00 PM – 3:00 p.m.
Please join this meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone:
You can also dial in using your phone.
(For supported devices, tap a one-touch number below to join instantly.)
United States: +1 (646) 749-3122
– One-touch: tel:+16467493122,,304599317#
Access Code: 304-599-317
Agenda Coming Soon!