OPPORTUNITY: Win a Techover from T-mobile for your town

Here’s the latest on T-Mobile’s Hometown Techover Contest...

Win a $3 million T-Mobile Techover for your town. Just upload a photo or video of your town and tell us what makes it special.

There are a host of prizes from a community-wide tech upgrade to a big party with a band called Florida Georgia Line. It seems like a longshot, I haven’t read the small print but the barrier to entry is pretty low. And if you’re going to submit something to them – maybe post a similar message on social media – see if the effort alone can’t spark a movement in your community!

FCC announces Initial List of Emergency Broadband Benefit Providers (incl MN List)

The FCC has announced the list of providers participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program…

The broadband providers listed below have elected to participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program). The list will be updated as more providers join the program.  Learn more about the Emergency Broadband Benefit, including eligibility details, by visiting: fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit

Definitions: Fixed broadband services are provided to your home, or a single location. These include cable, fiber optic, DSL, and fixed wireless services.

Mobile broadband services are device-based and available throughout the service provider’s cellular coverage area, similar to cell phone services. To view participating providers in your state or territory, click on the name of your state or territory below.

I am going to list the providers in Minnesota – but this list might change (after April 1, 2021) so you’ll want to double check with the FCC list.Continue reading

OPPORTUNITY: Government Experience Awards Call for Entries

From Center for Digital Government (CDG) …

The Center for Digital Government (CDG) invites nominations for its Government Experience Awards, where we celebrate achievements and learn best practices from U.S. state, counties, cities, and federal agencies. We will recognize entities that have gone beyond simply using the web to radically improve upon the experience of government and are pushing the boundaries of how services are delivered.

Nomination Deadline: Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Overall Experience Awards Nomination Form CLICK HERE
Overall Awards recognize the entire jurisdiction’s citizen/customer experience efforts. All U.S. state, county and city governments (includes townships and villages) may nominate their jurisdictions’ user experience in the overall categories of State Government; County Government, or City Government.

Project Experience Awards Nomination Form CLICK HERE

Project Awards recognize single-focus areas which may include more than one method of engagement such as mobile, web and social media, etc.
U.S. state and local governments, their individual agencies/departments, and U.S. federal agencies/departments may nominate their projects for the Project Experience Awards. A government may submit nominations for both the Overall award and for more than one project (nominate each project separately). The nominator/primary respondent must be a government official or staff.

A government may submit nominations for both the Overall award and for more than one project (nominate each project separately). The nominator/primary respondent must be a government official or staff.

FAQs: Use the Frequently Asked Questions to access both contests and the downloadable Word copy of the nomination form; and for more information including full input instructions.

Awards Event Sept. 15: Top government jurisdictions, agencies and departments will be featured in a virtual Experience Academy and will be honored at a high-energy, celebratory virtual awards. Winners will be featured in Government Technology and other publications.

CDG thanks our corporate members Accenture, Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Crown Castle, Dell Technologies, EasyVote, HP Inc., Infor, McAfee, Medallia, Microsoft, NIC, Oracle, Pure Storage, ServiceNow, SHI, Spectrum Enterprise, Team Dynamics, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, and Yubico.

If you have any questions, please contact Janet Grenslitt, Director of Surveys and Awards, jgrenslitt@centerdigitalgov.com.

OPPORTUNITY: 2021 MN Cup: Calling all entrepreneurs!

From the Carlson School…

Minnesota Cup (MN Cup) is kicking off our 17th season! Applications for the 2021 competition are open from March 15 – April 16. MN Cup is here to connect current and aspiring Minnesota entrepreneurs to education, mentorship, seed capital, and the broader community. You do not need to have an entity formed or be earning revenue to apply – all Minnesotans and Minnesota-based businesses earning less than $1M annual revenue are eligible. MN Cup has given away $4 Million in non-dilutive seed funding since 2005, and plans to award at least $400,000 this season. We hope you’ll share this free, accessible, supportive opportunity with founders and innovators in your network!

Click here to apply

Click here to register for office hours or an info session

Sign up for our newsletter for the most up to date information 

OPPORTUNITY: Share your broadband story with the FCC!

Here is your opportunity from the FCC

Getting Connected to Broadband

In today’s world, it is critical that families and businesses across the country have access to broadband. As work, education, healthcare, and many other activities have moved online, broadband is no longer nice to have. It’s need to have for everyone.

In order to better determine where high speed internet services are currently unavailable, we need precise, accurate, and up-to-date broadband mapping data.

The FCC’s Broadband Data Task Force is developing the necessary tools to gather this information. This is a complex, data-driven effort that will involve building new systems, process, and supporting materials.

These new tools will enable the FCC to create maps that display fixed broadband availability for individual locations and mobile broadband availability with more accuracy. The program will also provide a way for consumers, as well as Tribal, state, and local governments, to challenge and improve the accuracy of the maps by sharing data with the FCC. More accurate maps will enable broadband funding programs to target support for broadband services to the areas most in need.

Share Your Broadband Experience

The Commission is working hard to develop these new tools as quickly as possible. In the meantime, consumers can share their broadband experiences with the Broadband Data Task Force using this sort by form.

Your experience with the availability and quality of broadband services at your location will help to inform the FCC’s efforts to close the digital divide. We may also send you additional information by email in the future as we develop tools for consumers to share data with the FCC. You can also follow our efforts to improve the accuracy of these maps at www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData

Otter Tail County hires broadband advocate

Perham Focus reports

At their March 9 meeting, Otter Tail County commissioners agreed to pay $30,000 for a two-year position to focus on expanding broadband access.

It’s through an organization called Lead for Minnesota, which seeks to supply leaders age 21 to 30 to help rural communities with a variety of issues. In this case, the issue is broadband access, with Land O’ Lakes sharing the cost to place four of these leaders, called fellows, throughout Minnesota.

“Certainly broadband has been a topic for many years at the county,” said Community Development Director Amy Baldwin. “It piqued our interest.”

Having someone in that role would help Otter Tail County best leverage state and federal funding, which is becoming increasingly available, she said.

If you’re in the area and looking for a position you might be interested…

Lead for Minnesota will hire the person to fill that spot, and they will work in Otter Tail County for two years beginning in August. Baldwin said the county already has the funds to pay for the position.

How can Minnesotans get in line for the new federal broadband discounts? Let’s figure it out together

Earlier today I posted about the new federal discounts for broadband (FCC adopts federal broadband discount program: up to $50/month, $75/month on tribal lands and $100 for device).

The natural follow up is – hey how can I/we/my people get that? Turns out CTC Technology & Energy is already thinking about that.

Localities and states can take action now—before the FCC even issues its rules—to begin to help residents maximize their potential benefits under the new Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. For more details on the program, see our explanation here. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have additional questions.

The big issue is having to figure out if you’re eligible and how apply for the funds. It can be tricky for a family to figure it out. It can be tricky for smaller broadband providers to figure it out. (Larger providers will have an easier time especially if they are already connected to the Lifeline verifier.)

CTC has a way for government to help…

On the surface, the Emergency Broadband Benefit program involves only ISPs, customers, and the FCC: A customer calls the ISP, the ISP verifies their eligibility, and the ISP is reimbursed by the FCC. The reality is that local and state governments can play a key role in helping their residents make the most of this opportunity—rather than assuming the FCC and large ISPs will take on those responsibilities—and in the process, narrow the digital divide in their communities.


They recommend three ways:

  • Develop consumer education and outreach materials
  • Engage with ISPs—particularly small, local operators—to support their participation
  • Consider offering bridge funding for ISPs and residents

The article provides more details but I wanted to invite folks to post a comment or contact me atreacy@treacyinfo.com if they are interested and/or planning to take any of these actions. I’ve already heard from a very knowledgeable engineer about this. I’d hate to see people inventing wheels all over the state when we could build one wheel together more easily.

OPPORTUNITY: Libraries without Borders need a Technology and Design Manager

From Libraries without Borders…

Technology and Design Manager
The Technology and Design Manager will work closely with Libraries Without Borders US staff to incorporate a human-centered, design-based approach to develop technology and tech-based solutions for our growing portfolio of programs, with a strong focus on the Wash and Learn Initiative (WALI) and COVID-19 pandemic response. This person will be responsible for leading strategy, research, prototyping, testing, ideating, and implementing clear and thoughtful design solutions that support our team’s national efforts.

FCC adopts federal broadband discount program: up to $50/month, $75/month on tribal lands and $100 for device

Here’s the quick take…

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands.  It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.

The FCC reports

Today, the FCC voted to formally adopt a Report and Order that establishes the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, a $3.2 billion federal initiative to provide qualifying households discounts on their internet service bills and an opportunity to receive a discount on a computer or tablet.


“Today the Federal Communications Commission made history.  It adopted rules for the nation’s largest-ever program to help households nationwide afford broadband service.  This $3.2 billion program was designed to lower the cost of high-speed internet service for those struggling to get the connectivity they need during the ongoing pandemic.  It’s a challenge that is all too real for too many families.

“This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection.  It will help those sitting in cars in parking lots just to catch a Wi-Fi signal to go online for work.  It will help those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning.  It will help those who worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries.  In short, this program can make a meaningful difference in the lives of people across the country.  That’s why our work is already underway to get this program up and running, and I expect it to be open to eligible households within the next 60 days as providers sign up and program systems are put in place.  I have confidence in our staff that we will do this carefully, swiftly and the right way,” said Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands.  It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.

Under the law, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is open to households that participate in an existing low-income or pandemic relief program offered by a broadband provider; Lifeline subscribers, including those that are on Medicaid or accept SNAP benefits; households with kids receiving free and reduced-price lunch or school breakfast; Pell grant recipients; and those who have lost jobs and seen their income reduced in the last year.

Congrats to Alexandria Lakes Area in MN – recently named to Smart21 Communities of 2021 from ICF

The ICF (Intelligent Community Forum) is a strategy and award that helps communities around the world strive to be smarter through the use of broadband technology. Each year they whittle down to the top community, starting with the announcement of the Smart21 Communities of 2021, which they did yesterday.

Big news! Alexandria Lakes Area in MN made the top 21 list.

It’s a big honor. Now we have someone local to cheer on as the race progresses. The Blandin Foundation has long been a proponent of the ICF model. The early MIRC (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities) program, a precursor to the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) programs that Blandin hosts now. In fact, Blandin encourage and supported Alexandria Lakes Area in MN’s application.

Here’s the full list of the Smart21:

  • Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • Alexandria Lakes Area, Minnesota, USA
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
  • Binh Duong Smart City, Vietnam
  • Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada
  • Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
  • Regional Municipality of Durham, Ontario, Canada
  • Fairlawn, Ohio, USA
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Township of Langley, British Columbia, Canada
  • City of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
  • Markham, Ontario, Canada
  • Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Moscow, Russia
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Prospect, South Australia, Australia
  • Rochester, New York, USA
  • Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
  • Townsville, Queensland, Australia
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

I’ll paste more on the program from ICF below – but (especially) if you’re in Minnesota you have a unique opportunity to learn more through a series of webinars presented as part of the  AIR initiative, a partnership between Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation and Blandin Foundation. In fact, the there’s a webinar this afternoon:

  • 24: Connectivity: The Foundation of Digital Opportunity.
  • 25: Knowledge Work: Creating a Ladder of Opportunity.
  • March 2: Innovation: Building the Ecosystem from Growth.
  • March 4: Inclusion: Overcoming the Digital Divide.
  • March 9: Sustainability for Quality of Life, Engagement and Economic Growth.

More from ICF…

The Smart21 are selected by ICF based on quantitative and qualitative data related to the six Factors of the ICF Method. The data and information are evaluated by a global team of Analysts led by Columbia professor, former Cisco executive and former Westchester County (New York) CIO, Dr. Norman Jacknis. Dr. Jacknis serves as a Senior Fellow of the Intelligent Community Forum. The ICF Method provides the conceptual framework for understanding the factors that determine a community’s competitiveness in economic, social and cultural terms. Click here to learn more about the ICF Method.

OPPORTUNITY: Regional leaders gather to imagine a broadband-fueled economy

Happy to share the following invitation from IRRRB. The meetings have been going well and they are opening up attendance…

More than 100 economic and community developers from across the region gathered earlier this month for the Arrowhead Intelligent Region (AIR) kickoff event. Together, participants began imagining what a regional broadband-fueled economy might look like and how to get there.

The AIR initiative, a partnership between Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation and Blandin Foundation, is building on the momentum, and bringing to regional scale, the work and vision of 10 Iron Range Broadband Communities (IRBC) that have implemented nearly 125 projects in the past four years. IRBC broadband champions and regional developers are joining forces to think bigger about the role of broadband access and use in local economies.

To inspire and guide project development, Robert Bell of Intelligent Community Forum is hosting twice-weekly webinars through March 9 to introduce global best practices that can inform and be applied to regional broadband efforts. Last week, webinar participants discussed technology as a driver of change in local economies and how to engage community as part of that change.

Upcoming webinars include:

  • Feb. 24: Connectivity: The Foundation of Digital Opportunity.
  • Feb. 25: Knowledge Work: Creating a Ladder of Opportunity.
  • March 2: Innovation: Building the Ecosystem from Growth.
  • March 4: Inclusion: Overcoming the Digital Divide.
  • March 9: Sustainability for Quality of Life, Engagement and Economic Growth.

Community members who are passionate about broadband connectivity and its role in a strong regional economy are welcome to attend all webinars.

Register for the webinars.

On March 12, participants will gather for a project development meeting to learn about the grant process, brainstorm project ideas and begin forming small groups to lay out project implementation.

Learn more about the Arrowhead Intelligent Region initiative.

OPPORTUNITY: MN Safe Learning Survey

This is a slight wheel into another lane, except access to broadband impact the experience of online learning…

The University of Minnesota is working with MDE and launched the MN Safe Learning Survey in an effort to provide MDE, policy makers, and educational leaders a sense of how students, families, and educators are feeling about the school year. We are eager to get it out far and wide so that we get as many student, family, and educator responses as possible. Could you help us by sharing with your networks and on social media? Here is the link:



OPPORTUNITY: Red Wing Ignite E1 Ignite Cup 2021

Red Wing Ignite is partnering with the E1 Collaborative to host E1 Ignite Cup 2021. Here’s more info from a recent email

E1 Ignite Cup 2021

Pitch Night April 6, 2021

We’re doing it again. Red Wing Ignite, in partnership with the E1 Collaborative is hosting E1 Ignite Cup 2021.

Last year’s Ignite Cup winner won $50,000 in the 2020 MN Cup. Maybe you can be next?!?

What is E1 Ignite Cup?

A Virtual “Shark Tank”. Emerging Startups present their idea/business (in a virtual format) to a panel of judges made up of entrepreneurs, investors, business/regional leaders, and MN Cup representatives.

All applicants receive feedback on their idea/business and application, and exposure to a diverse group of people in the MN Startup community.

E1 Ignite Cup Awards

1st Place

  • Automatic Semi-Finalist in MN Cup
  • 30-minute mentoring session from each judge

2nd Place

  • 30-minute mentoring session from each judge

People’s Choice Award

  • Gifts bundle provided by our E1 Collaborative partners

How the competition works

  • Each Startup completes an online application.
  • An evaluation panel reviews applications and choses 5 Finalists.
  • Finalists prepare a pitch deck and short video.
  • Finalists present to a panel of judges.
  • Judges award 1st and 2nd place based on MN Cup judging criteria.

Who Qualifies

You’re an emerging entrepreneur and you, your business, or your customers have ties to one of the following SE MN counties: Rice, Goodhue, Wabasha, Steele, Dodge, Olmsted, Winona, Freeborn, Mower, Fillmore, Houston.

Important Dates

Application Deadline March 17, 2021

Finalists Notified March 24,2021

Finalist’s pitch deck/video deadline March 31,2021

Pitch Night April 6, 2021



Application Deadline is March 17, 2021

Apply now!

Smart North is a new collaboration looking to help MN communities be smarter

Today I spoke with the founding team of Smart North, a coalition of public, private, civic, education, and entrepreneurial individuals and organizations driving Smart City initiatives and thought-leadership within the Twin Cities and Minnesota. Founders include Sabina Saksena (CytiLife), Ben Wallace (Minify Energy) and Thomas Fisher (U of M School of Architecture College of Design).

They are part of a team with diverse but synergistic areas of expertise on how a community can be smarter – through better energy use, autonomous vehicles, using big data to help streamline your schedule (especially during a pandemic), thinking about better use of existing infrastructure to prepare for the future and they want to use this skills to help communities work smarter, more sustainability, more equitably and hopefully be happier.

They want to partner with communities. They have partnerships in urban and suburban Minnesota – they are really looking for rural partners. So check out the video and consider joining us at the March Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch on March 24 to talk more (and more generally) about smart technologies. (I’ll post more on that session when the date is closer.)

The recognize that broadband is necessary but not sufficient. They are a good fit for a community that has good broadband and is looking to leverage it or a community that wants to build a case to get better broadband.