The Story Exchange is featuring women running for office, such as Leah Phifer, who is running for Congress in the 8th District. She recently released an economic development plan, which includes greater federal funding for broadband…
Phifer proposes to give small businesses a hand up by pushing federal agencies to consider the effects of regulations, increasing access to business loans and stepping up federal funding for improved broadband connections in rural areas.
More than a quarter of households in rural Minnesota lack access to broadband that meets state speed targets, and demand for fast connections outpaces available funding, according to a January report by Governor Mark Dayton’s Task Force on Broadband.
Phifer argues that high-speed internet access is a necessity for the district to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Without this access, businesses struggle to sell their products online and can’t complete debit and credit card transactions efficiently.
Her plan calls for adding $1 billion a year to the FCC’s Connect America Fund to pay for the extension and improvement of broadband lines across rural America. “This additional funding will help ensure all Americans have access to quality high speed broadband service within four years of enactment,” she said in a statement.
It’s nice to see an interest in greater spending on broadband. It would also be nice to see federal funding increase their upgrade speed requirements to align with state goal of 25 Mbps down and 3 up by 2022 and 100/20 by 2026.
MPR reports on a recent discussion among DFL candidates for governor. The hot topics were mining and the Vikings stadium, but broadband came up…
Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul said the national attention Minnesota received for hosting Super Bowl LII Sunday was a “beautiful thing.” But she voted against the legislation that built U.S. Bank Stadium and still believes the public cost was too high.
“There are communities that are still waiting for things like broadband and affordable childcare and affordable and accessible health care. The human needs for me come first and they always will as the state’s governor,” Murphy said.
I’m on the road this week with Bill Coleman talking to regions about broadband. We started last night with East Central RDC. My first lesson? I’ve heard people say that broadband is losing headlines with legislators and that it feels like old news. Well it’s not old news on the front lines! There were 60+ attendees to a meeting that started at 7 pm. (And eventually the custodians had to kick us out!) Attendees included Representative Jason Rarick, Senator Tony Lourey, Senator Mark Koran, Representatives from Senator Klobuchar, Congressman Nolan and Senator Smith.
People are there because they recognize that if they don’t get better broadband their community is in jeopardy. The counties in the region are at various stages of seeking better broadband – as someone said, they no longer need to discuss why broadband – it’s how. People spoke up about the need for continued funding for broadband projects, the need to transform federal funding and a new look at the role of cooperatives.
We got to hear real numbers from real feasibility studies (88 percent of residents in Isanti County want better broadband) real costs (the business in Kanabec County was quoted $35,000 per mile to upgrade to fiber) and real stories (the business that loses $35,000 per minute when an employee loses connectivity). You can see the presentation, video archive and my notes below. (I apologize for the coughing in the video – bought some cough drops for today’s meeting!)
Notes – (sorry didn’t do much clean up, you can cross check with video) Continue reading
Fairbault Daily News reports on a gubernatorial forum late last week. All nine candidates for Minnesota governor answered questions at a forum at the Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention. They report on at least one talking about rural broadband…
Former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, a DFLer, said communities need to have vibrant identities wrapped around what is best there. And, to attract and retain people, they need broadband internet.
“How can we expect to attract families where you have to put your kids in the car and drive around so you can get a signal and broadband development for them to do homework?” he said.
Few things make me more nerdily happy than when someone fits broadband into their announcement for running for office in Minnesota. The Red Wing Eagle reports…
Lori Ann Clark has announced her candidacy for Minnesota House District 21A. The Cannon Falls business owner will seek the endorsement of the DFL Party at its District 21 convention March 10.
And her take on broadband?
“Communities compete based on the full range of amenities and services we provide. Everything from our roads, housing, childcare, and broadband to our cultural and natural assets affect people’s desire to live, work and play here,” Clark said. “We can and need to do better for those of us who have chosen to live here now and to attract those who will help us succeed in the future.”
Jackson County Pilot reports on a recent visit Senator Klobuchar made to the area…
Minnesota’s senior senator stopped by the industrial park headquarters of New Fashion Pork Friday evening to talk employment, immigration, transportation, trade, rural broadband connectivity and the farm bill, among other topics. Klobuchar said she was impressed with New Fashion Pork and the Jackson County Food 4 Kids program the company spearheaded a few years ago, urged those gathered to continue lobbying lawmakers for sensible immigration law and pledged to look into impending changes to overland transportation regulations.
And more specifically on broadband..
David Preisler, executive director of the Minnesota Pork Producers and Association and Minnesota Pork Board, talked trade and the farm bill with Klobuchar, while Jackson City Council member Donnie Schoenrock, president of the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services Board of Directors, briefed the senator on local issues surrounding rural Internet connectivity.
“It’s the digital divide,” Klobuchar said, adding the solution may lie in certain changes necessary at the Federal Communications Commission level.
Klobuchar said she appreciated hearing concerns from those gathered and pledged to continue working on their behalf.
I like to pick up on the politicians who mention broadband as a topic worth supporting. In am MPR debate for candidates for St Paul Mayor, Tom Goldstein mentioned broadband…
DFLer Tom Goldstein addressed his electability. He’s run repeatedly for office, and while he earned a term on the school board, he lost a re-election bid. Goldstein said it wasn’t about just him, but that he had a clear plan for the city.
“It’s a very thoughtful plan, about how we do equity. About the need for broadband, the need for job creation,” he said. “I’m the only person here who has actually run a business and managed people.”