More info on Aitkin County’s $1.9 million in USDA funding for broadband

I reported on the award a few weeks ago, AgWeek provides more details…

In Aitkin County, USDA will provide a $1.95 million grant to Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative. The project will create a Fiber to the Premises Network to 235 establishments in parts of the county, including tribal land and facilities of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The project seeks to help with business and economic development, as well as telehealth and educational improvements, USDA says.

A total of $152 million is being invested in 19 projects in 14 states, mostly in rural areas, according to information from USDA.

“Deploying high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or ‘e-Connectivity,’ in rural America expands access to essential health, educational, social and business opportunities,” USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald LaVoy said in a written statement.

A 2017 USDA report identified e-connectivity as a key to improving rural prosperity. To read the report: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rural-prosperity-repo….

Morcom Township (St Louis County) hoping for a MN broadband grant

The Timberjay reports…

Residents here, who have been without reliable Internet access for years, could soon have some of the best broadband speeds in the area, if final funding from the state’s Border-to-Border grant program is approved later this year.

The Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation recently approved a $224,800 grant to the township, which means Morcom Township has now secured three-quarters of the $899,200 they’ll need to bring broadband to the 126 unserved and underserved households in the township and in an adjacent unorganized township to the north. Morcom Township is located west of Cook.

“We are just waiting to hear in December if we qualified for the state Border to Border grant,” said Morcom Town Clerk Sasha Lehto. Morcom is asking for $331,704 in border-to-border funding under a plan to utilize Paul Bunyan Communications as the township’s broadband provider. Paul Bunyan would commit $332,696 to the effort. Morcom Township has committed $10,000 in township funds for the project.

“This was out of our really small budget,” said Lehto, “but either you want it or you don’t. This is for our people.”

The need for reliable internet service in the Morcom Township area is clear.

The article demonstrates the importance of the MN grants. The hope they bring but in reality the state grants are the difference between a community getting improved broadband or not. I saw the difference it made looking at the most recent MN broadband county profiles – counties with grants saw improvement.

The article outlines a few project proposals from the area…

IRRR grants for broadband projects were also approved for:

 $579,272 to Bois Forte Band of Chippewa for the construction of a fiber network to serve 442 unserved and underserved households on the reservation. Total project cost is $2,317,090.

 $105,450 for Ash River for the construction of a broadband network for 121 unserved and underserved households in the Ash River area. Total project cost is $421,800.

 $236,050 for the Elephant and Black Duck lake areas for the construction of a fiber network to serve 124 unserved and underserved households near Elephant Lake. Total project cost is $944,200.

Both Paul Bunyan Communications (Ash River and Elephant Lake) and Consolidated Telephone Company (Bois Forte) are provider partners for these projects. All these projects are also scheduled to receive state funding from the Border to Border program (pending final approval).

Senators Klobuchar & Smith and Congressman Stauber announce $1.9 million in broadband funding for Aitkin County

Brainerd Dispatch reports…

Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, along with Congressman Pete Stauber, announced Wednesday, Sept. 25, over $1.9 million in funding for broadband deployment in Aitkin County.

The Community Connect grant of $1,953,464 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is intended to construct a fiber broadband network helping spur economic, business, telehealth, and educational improvements in Rice River Township and Spalding Township. …

This rural development investment will be used to construct a fiber-to-the-premises network to 235 establishments in portions of the Aitkin County townships. This includes tribal land and facilities of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative in Aitkin will construct a broadband network to support service at levels up to 1 gigabyte per second for each subscriber. This broadband network will assist in economic and business development, as well as telehealth and educational improvements, the release stated.

FCC dedicates 41.5 billion to broadband: $1.8 million in MN

BroadbandBreakfast reports…

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday announced that it had authorized $112.2 million in funding over ten years to expand broadband to nearly 48,000 unserved rural homes and businesses in nine states.

This is the fifth wave of support from last year’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction. Broadband providers will begin receiving funding later in September.

Here’s what they have slated for our areas…

Four rural phone companies are receiving $1.8 million to offer gigabit-speed fiber service to 536 rural homes and businesses in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin

And a map of the winning areas (near us)…

IRRB will be talking broadband on Monday – as well as other issues

Business North reports that Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation is meeting next week to discuss a range of items including…

  • A $579,272 broadband infrastructure grant to Bois Forte Band of Chippewa to support a $2.3 million project to construct broadband fiber to serve 442 unserved and underserved households within Bois Forte Reservation.

  • A $105,450 broadband infrastructure grant to Paul Bunyan Communications – Ash River (Northwest St. Louis Unorganized) to support a $421,800 project to construct broadband fiber to 121 unserved and underserved households in the Ash River area.

  • A $236,400 broadband infrastructure grant to Paul Bunyan Communications – Kabetogama Area (Kabetogama and Northwest St. Louis Unorganized) for a $945,600 project to construct broadband fiber to 207 unserved and underserved households in the Kabetogma area.

  • A $224,000 broadband infrastructure grant to Paul Bunyan Communications – Morcom Township for a $899,200 project to construct broadband fiber to 126 unserved and underserved households in Morcom Township area.

  • A $236,050 broadband infrastructure grant to Paul Bunyan Communications – Elephant Lake & Black Duck Lake (Camp 5 Unorganized Township) for a $944,200 project to construct broadband fiber to 124 unserved and underserved households near Elephant Lake.

  The broadband projects leverage private funding and the Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, said Phillips.

“We’ve always struggled to find a role in broadband,” he said. “But where we’re landing is in a spot where we’ve found a spot for the public match. We’re pretty excited about this because there’s a lot of private money from the providers and there’s a lot of border-to-border money.”

Digital Inclusion grant opportunity for libraries: deadline Dec 20, 2019

I’d love to see Minnesota libraries apply…

Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries

Deadline:
December 02, 2019

Application: FY 2020 Notice of Funding Opportunity (PDF 399KB)
Grant Amount: $10,000–$50,000
Grant Period: Two years
Cost Share Requirement: None

Program Overview:
Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries (APP) is a special initiative of the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program. The goal of this initiative is to support projects that strengthen the ability of small and/or rural libraries and archives to serve their communities and to build grantee capacity through participation in a community of practice. IMLS invites applications that focus on the following topics:

  • transforming school library practice
  • community memory
  • digital inclusion

There’s a webinar next week for more info:

We invite you to participate in a pre-application webinar to learn more about the program and ask questions.

  • Thursday, September 12, 2019 3:00-4:00 PM Eastern

Le Sueur Commissioners support Bevcomm grant proposals for Derrynane, Lexington, Lanesburgh and Montgomery townships

Le Sueur County News reports…

High speed internet access may soon be available in Derrynane and parts of Lexington, Lanesburgh and Montgomery townships, but it’s no guarantee just yet.

At an Aug. 27 board meeting, Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to commit funds in 2021 to help Bevcomm expand its fiber-optic cable network to the area.

Le Sueur County has been pursuing partnerships with internet service providers (ISPs) for the past month to expand broadband internet to rural areas. The county recently found a partner in Bevcomm, who requested $300,000 from the county for the project, which covers much of Derrynane, northern parts of Lexington, parts of Lanesburgh southeast of Heidelberg and the northern edges of Montgomery Township.

Commissioner John King said the reason the county is involved is because internet service providers won’t serve rural areas without subsidies.