The Cost of Connectivity? Definitely more in the US

New America has released their (sometimes) annual report on the cost of broadband. They look at a number of factors but it’s their statement on affordability in the US is most sobering…

Based on our dataset, the most affordable average monthly prices are in Asian and European cities. Just three U.S. cities rank in the top half of cities when sorted by average monthly costs. The most affordable U.S. city—Ammon, Idaho—ranks seventh. The overwhelming majority of the U.S. cities in our dataset rank in the bottom half for average monthly costs. Internet policy scholar Jonathan Sallet recommends that $10 per month is an affordable benchmark for low-income households. Only six plans in our U.S. dataset meet this $10 benchmark at any speed tier (only four meet Sallet’s 50/50 Mbps recommendation), and all six are offered in Ammon. Out of 290 plans in our U.S. dataset, 118 have advertised initial promotional prices of $50 and under—and only 64 of these plans advertise speeds that meet the current FCC minimum definition for broadband. In addition, some ISPs have abandoned low-income neighborhoods in a form of “digital redlining.” Moreover, COVID-19 has exacerbated a longstanding digital divide that disproportionately affects low-income households and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. As jobs and incomes are lost, this affordability crisis is poised to worsen. Congress and the FCC must take immediate action to stop digital redlining and help more people get online.

Stats on telehealth – big on virtual visits, less so on EHR

Becker’s Hospital Review reports…

Only 31 percent of hospitals and health systems are using capabilities within their EHR systems to conduct telehealth visits, according to a recent Sage Growth Partners report.

Sage Growth Partners during the week of May 25 surveyed 150 respondents representing various executive roles at hospitals and health systems across the U.S. Respondents were asked to describe their virtual care operations and strategies.

Three report insights:

  1. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they are using third-party software such as Zoom and Skype for telehealth visits.

  2. When asked what key tech solutions are critical to their organizations, 85 percent of execs said virtual care, 52 percent said hospital communication and 43 percent said supply chain automation.

  3. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 80 percent of hospitals provided less than 10 percent of their care virtually. However, only 11 percent of hospital leaders predict that in 24 months they will go back to their pre-pandemic rates of virtual care.

40 percent of dentists using telehealth/teledentistry

mHealth Intelligence reports…

Some 40 percent of dentists in a recent survey said they’re either using telehealth now to stay in touch with patients or will soon be using telemedicine technology. That survey, conducted by the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, saw a significant gap between what dentists felt they should do to treat patients in person during the crisis and what they were confident they can do.

The stats are now great now or promising in the future…

Dentists are among the hardest hit healthcare professions during the COVID-19 crisis because of the potential for virus transmission from the oral cavity, and almost all of those who completed the survey said they expect the industry to see long-term changes as a result. Only 57 percent of those surveyed have remained open for most services during the pandemic, while 31 percent are only offering emergency care and another 8 percent have closed completely.

That’s not good for the bottom line. According to the survey, 90 percent have seen their patient visits drop, with the average decline being 51 percent. Three out of every four dental offices have reduced staff, with one in six reporting having less than 15 days’ of cash on hand, and 86 percent said they’ve seen revenues drop at least 25 percent.

There are plans to help facilitate greater use of telehealth…

“A broad strategy that refocuses dentistry through pathway redesign could maintain and even improve access to care while minimizing transmission risk,” the report concluded. “Embracing telehealth technologies can allow providers to engage in more patient outreach, reinforce healthy behaviors, provide education and explore minimally invasive treatment options, as well as the ability to triage and direct patients to appropriate care. This pathway redesign could render dental providers less vulnerable from unpredictable patient utilization and cash flow, if, as many health experts predict, the nation experiences additional waves of COVID-19.”

Among those recognizing the importance of teledentistry is UnitedHealthcare. Noting that dental care ranks as among the most frequently avoided emergency room visits even during normal times, the Minnesota-based health plan recently unveiled coverage for at-home phone and video consults “for advice and guidance to an appropriate setting for in-person care.”

Telehealth more important during pandemic as facilities close – increasing need for adequate/affordable broadband across MN

Medical Express recently posted an article that reports that telehealth is an important tool for rural hospitals for treating COVID-19

Telehealth connects patients with doctors by computer or telephone when in-person appointments are not possible or safe from disease transmission.

“It’s a relatively easy way to expand access,” Feyereisen said. “More health care access is good. It’s one of the goals of the system.”

Minnesota is one of the states the publication recognizes as a leader…

Puro and Feyereisen concluded that talking with doctors remotely is an important part of improving rural health care. The odds of hospitals to provide telehealth services vary, with Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas leading the way among the nine regions designated by the U.S. Census.

While Becker’s Hospital Review reports further telehealth accolades for Minnesota…

Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health this month received Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota’s Trailblazer Award for its efforts to improve virtual care access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essentia Health launched its virtual visit program March 18, a month ahead of schedule, to accommodate patients during the healthcare crisis. The health system trained more than 1,200 primary care providers and physicians representing at least 60 specialties in how to conduct virtual visits.

“We knew we had to step in and fill a void that was quickly created by our patients not being able to come to see us,” Essentia Health CEO David Herman, MD, said in a news release. “We literally went from zero virtual visits to about 3,000 virtual visits per day in less than three weeks.”

The numbers are as staggering as the need. And diagnosing and treating people without exposing them to coronarvirus or other germs is obviously beneficial – especially (as I always add) for the folks who have adequate broadband to take advantage of the opportunities.

For those folks on the opposite end of the digital divide this pandemic has been hard with limited access to school work, economic opportunities and healthcare. It has meant sitting in library parking lots using their wi-fi, missing opportunities and longer drives to healthcare facilities.

And those drive just got longer as HealthPartners just announced that 7 of their clinics will not be reopening…

– Central Minnesota Clinics, St. Cloud.

– Highland Park Clinic, St. Paul.

– Park Nicollet Shorewood Clinic, Cottage Grove.

– Regions Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, St. Paul.

– Regions Maplewood Behavioral Health Clinic.

– Riverside Clinic, Minneapolis.

– Stillwater Medical Group, Mahtomedi.

– Westfields HealthStation, New Richmond, Wisconsin.

HealthPartners says the pandemic has caused it rethink its business and where it needs physical locations, which comes amid a major increase in telehealth video visits as a result of the pandemic.

It really pushes the need to get everyone connected as it becomes a great healthcare concern. In rural areas, that often means making it available; in urban areas it means making it affordable!


Closing the digital divide for distance education estimated cost: $6-12 billion

Common Sense recently published a report on what it would take to close the digital divide in the age of distance learning

With the prospect of another distance learning school year on the horizon due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new analysis released today finds that a full 15 to 16 million public school students across the United States live in households without adequate internet access or computing devices to facilitate distance learning. The analysis, from Common Sense and Boston Consulting Group, also finds that almost 10% of public school teachers (300,000 to 400,000) are also caught in the gap, affecting their ability to run remote classes. The 32-page report, Closing the K–12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning, fixes a one-year price tag of at least $6 billion and as much as $11 billion to connect all kids at home, and an additional $1 billion to close the divide for teachers.

I’m more of a writer than a mathematician but that looks like $732 per unserved student and teacher. (That’s looking at highest estimate for cost and number of disconnected.) That doesn’t feel like such a high number – especially when you know that a house with broadband reaps an average ANNUAL economic benefit of $1850 – and that’s a pre-COVID number. Broadband is an investment is education and economic development. And especially during the pandemic, it can be a literal lifesaver to compromised patients who need healthcare services.

The report also pulls data out by state. Here’s how Minnestoa shows up:

  • Students without adequate high-speed connection 249,845
  • % Students without adequate high-speed connection 28%
  • Students without devices 162,607
  • % Students without devices 18%
  • Teachers without adequate high-speed connection 6,379
  • % Teachers without adequate high-speed connection 11%
  • Teachers without devices 1,046
  • % Teachers without devices 2%

The speed they are looking at for unserved is 25/3, which is the 2022 speed goal in Minnesota. In April, the Office of Broadband Development said 92.19 of Minnesota households were served – leaving 7.81 unserved.

So what’s the difference in these numbers? OBD is looking at available access only, which means if a household is in a served area. Not whether they get it or not, just if they could. Common Sense is looking at whether a household subscribes and do they have devices available to use it. Common Sense is looking at students and teachers access, not households. So the numbers tell slightly difference stories. Knowing the difference I think helps to frame the discussion of digital equity.

A look at rural counties broadband and unemployment

The Cornell Policy Review recently posted an article that caught my eye – Rural Connection: Increasing Broadband Infrastructure to Meet 21st Century Needs. It made the case that rural areas need broadband. Here’s their conclusion…

Time will tell whether or not the efforts to close the rural broadband gap will be successful. Stakeholders in this effort recognize the positive externalities that could come from connecting communities, such as access to health services, education, and infrastructure improvements. Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, said “Without a proper broadband connection, these communities can’t start or run a modern business, access telemedicine, take an online class, digitally transform their farm, or research a school project online,” he adds, “You see this dilemma play out in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data, which shows the highest unemployment rates are frequently located in the counties with the lowest availability of broadband. As a nation, we can’t afford to turn our backs on these communities as we head into the future”

It led me to wonder if the best/worst counties for broadband access lined up with best/worst for unemployment rates. So I looked up the most recent unemployment rates, which are from April. So these reflect the first month of pandemic life. Statewide the unemployment when from:

  • March 2020 – 3.6
  • April 2020 – 8.6
  • May 2020 – 9.4

I looked at the most recent broadband rank (for speeds of 100 Mbps down and 20 up), unemployment percentage and unemployment rank. I’ll paste the table below. If you download the spreadsheet you’ll see I tried to color-code the top ranking broadband counties and lowest ranking (so best employment) unemployment counties. So red is good.

I was hoping that something might jump out at me as I compared to two statistics. That wasn’t the case. But the info might be helpful on a county level.

Rank 2020 unemployment % unemployment rank
Rock 1 3.8 86
Ramsey 2 9.2 25
Lac qui Parle 3 5.8 76
Swift 4 8.2 40
Beltrami 5 9.1 27
Hennepin 6 8.9 33
Big Stone 7 6.5 66
Dakota 8 9 29
Anoka 9 9.1 26
Pennington 10 10.1 17
Stevens 11 3.8 87
Washington 12 8.2 41
Wadena 13 11.1 9
Cook 14 15.1 2
Lake 15 9.9 19
Olmsted 16 6.9 57
Polk 17 7.2 53
Hubbard 18 10.4 16
Scott 19 9.1 38
Carver 20 7.3 52
Benton 21 9.4 23
Clearwater 22 13.7 3
Clay 23 5.9 75
Winona 24 7.2 56
Steele 25 6.9 59
Crow Wing 26 10.9 10
Freeborn 27 7.9 43
Itasca 28 11.4 6
Chippewa 29 7.8 46
Red Lake 30 9.5 22
Rice 31 6.9 58
Wright 32 8.3 39
Stearns 33 7.9 45
Nobles 34 4.3 85
Kittson 35 6.4 68
Lyon 36 5.5 79
Pipestone 37 4.5 84
Roseau 38 8.4 38
St. Louis 39 10.5 15
Mower 40 6.1 73
Nicollet 41 6.7 61
Blue Earth 42 7.7 47
Dodge 43 6.4 67
Wilkin 44 5.7 78
Waseca 45 8 42
Goodhue 46 8.6 36
Brown 47 6.6 62
Kandiyohi 48 6.1 72
Sherburne 49 9 32
Becker 50 10 18
Pope 51 6 74
Chisago 52 9.4 24
Mahnomen 53 9 30
Le Sueur 54 9.7 20
Morrison 55 9 31
Douglas 56 7.5 48
Houston 57 6.1 71
Jackson 58 5.2 81
Koochiching 59 10.6 14
Watonwan 60 5.5 80
Marshall 61 6.6 64
Cottonwood 62 4.8 82
Wabasha 63 7.5 49
Otter Tail 64 7.9 44
Renville 65 7.2 54
Cass 66 13.2 4
Sibley 67 7.2 55
Grant 68 6.7 60
Mille Lacs 69 11.3 8
McLeod 70 17.4 1
Martin 71 7.4 50
Lake of the Woods 72 10.8 12
Norman 73 8.9 34
Meeker 74 6.6 65
Fillmore 75 6.6 63
Carlton 76 10.7 13
Murray 77 6.2 70
Traverse 78 5.7 77
Todd 79 6.3 69
Isanti 80 9.6 21
Aitkin 81 11.3 7
Faribault 82 8.5 37
Lincoln 83 4.6 83
Pine 84 12 5
Yellow Medicine 85 7.4 51
Redwood 86 8.8 35
Kanabec 87 10.8 11

Updated Data shows 85.4 percent of Minnesotans use the Internet

NTIA reports…

Today, NTIA is releasing results of its latest NTIA Internet Use Survey, which show that nearly 4 out of 5 Americans were using the Internet by November 2019, and are increasingly using a larger and more varied range of devices. Even as seniors and other demographic groups reported encouraging increases in Internet use, the data show that a persistent digital divide still exists based on income levels, age groups, and race, among other factors.

This is the fifteenth edition of the survey—the product of a partnership between NTIA and the U.S. Census Bureau that spans a quarter century—and it includes over 50 detailed questions about computer and Internet use administered to approximately 50,000 households across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The NTIA Internet Use Survey is a vital data source for policymakers, researchers, and advocates seeking to understand critical questions related to Internet use and help bridge the digital divide.

In Minnesota they report 85.4 percent of Minnesota have used the Internet with a margin of error of ±3.5 percent. In 1998, the percentage was 41.5 percent.

Here are some other stats for Minnesota:

  • Internet use at home: 82.2 percent
  • Internet use at a public place (library coffee shop) 17.3 percent
  • For those without access at home here are the top reasons:
  • Not interested: 63.5 percent
  • Too expensive: 8.1 percent
  • No computer: .9 percent
  • Not available: 0 percent

Type of broadband:

  • Mobile: 88.1 percent
  • Wired service at home: 83.5 percent
  • Satellite: 3.9 percent
  • Dialup: .1 percent

You can see more on the NTIA website. My hope it that eventually this data would be available by county!

Toward Inclusive Urban Technology – lessons learned

Benton has a new publication out (Toward Inclusive Urban Technology: Lessons, cases, and resources developed by local technology). They pull out two lessons:

  • Achieving “Build With” Standards for Smart City Planning
  • Authentic Civic Engagement for Emerging Technology

Two lessons that are not exclusive to urban areas or for that matter to technology programs but it’s a good reminder. They give a number of examples where the targeted users were and weren’t part of the solution – the difference is clear. The stories are interesting and if your community is thinking about ways to integrate technology, there are some good examples. And the graphic helps describe a process that works.

MN Cooperative Fiber Coverage up 1,000 square miles from 2019

The Institute for Local Self Reliance has updated their 2017 report on how Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America; they update it on a regular basis. The quick take from the Minnesota perspective – coverage in Minnesota has increased by 1,000 square miles – or percentage wise from 21.6 to 22.3 percent in the last year.

2020 Coverage

2019 Coverage

And here are recommendations…

Federal and state governments must recognize that cooperatives are one of the best tools for ubiquitous, rural, high-speed Internet access.

  1. Design funding programs with cooperatives in mind.
    1. Letters of credit from the largest banks may be hard to come by for smaller cooperatives.
    2. Make applications as simple and easy as possible. Staff time is limited at small cooperatives.
    3. Develop grant and loan programs rather than create incentives in the tax code for infrastructure investment.
  2. Encourage cooperatives by removing barriers and encouraging partnerships.
    1. Remove barriers to electric cooperatives exploring the possibility of fiber network. Cooperatives should not be prevented from applying to federal grants that they are eligible for because of hindersome state laws.
    2. Encourage partnerships, including with existing muni networks.
  3. If you live in a rural area, talk to your neighbors, co-op manager, and board members about the potential for Internet networks. Successful cooperative projects are community-led projects. About 70 percent of electric cooperatives have less than 10 percent average turnout for their board member elections.25
    1. Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Missouri had excited members go door-to-door and gave out yard signs to encourage folks to get involved with the project. Many community members also wrote letters of support for the project.
    2. In New Mexico, the local business community voiced their needs at Kit Carson Electric Cooperative board meetings to encourage the co-op to build a fiber network.
    3. Delta Montrose Electric Association in Colorado overcame an initial reluctance to develop an Internet access project after overwhelming demand from its members.26
  4. Make it clear that rural connectivity is about more than entertainment. Farmers, programmers, and entrepreneurs all need high-speed Internet access. Rural connectivity also supports needed research.
    1. Allband Communications Cooperative started a non-profit called ACEWR, which collaborates with universities and research institutions across the United States. It is a prime spot for research on local wildlife, endangered species, and conservation projects. The nonprofit also has an online workforce development program to train locals in new skills, empowering them to succeed in the 21st century economy

Policy Recommendations for bringing communities into the digital age from Roberto Gallardo

Roberto Gallardo’s recent paper on digital inclusion offers the following recommendations are meant to strengthen federal and state policies so that they may better support initiatives such as those discussed above:

  • Align Federal and State Policies around Digital Inclusion and Equity
  • Increase Community Awareness of the Importance of Digital Inclusion
  • Provide Digital Inclusion–Specific Funding
  • Support and Incentivize Digital Inclusion through Local Solutions

And one way they got to those recommendations was by looking at the Minnesota Broadband model…

One example of an effective state policy framework is the Minnesota Border-to-Border broadband grant program. It began in 2014 and is one piece of a comprehensive statewide approach to digital inclusiveness known as the “Minnesota Model.” This model launched in 2008 with a set of broadband goals proposed by a statewide task force appointed by the governor and adopted by the legislature. Progress is reviewed annually and consists of four interacting components: statutory goals, data and mapping, an Office of Broadband Development (OBD), and a grant program. This dynamic plan responds to the changing needs of communities and Internet service providers (ISPs) and to the intelligence garnered through data monitoring and measurement. The OBD serves as the central broadband planning body for the state. It operationalizes the various elements outlined in the law, such as administering the Border-to-Border broadband grant program as well as a telecommuter forward program. Another critical role of the OBD is to accurately map broadband deployment throughout the state to aid in the planning and monitoring of broadband infrastructure investments.

According to Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement for the Blandin Foundation (a member of the statewide task force), these mutually reinforcing broadband plan elements constitute a critical civic infrastructure that strengthens the capacity and voice of local communities. This civic infrastructure provides support to broadband access and adoption throughout the state from setting broadband goals to supporting the OBD and to state mapping of broadband infrastructure and unmet needs (Interview, January 2020).

Statewide connectivity goals adopted in 2010 called for universal access at 10–20 Mbps download and 5–10 Mbps upload. By 2016, these goals were updated to universal access at 25/3 Mbps by 2022 and 100/20 Mbps by 2026. To achieve these goals, the Border-to-Border broadband grant program has invested more than US$85 million in broadband infrastructure in 110 projects connecting nearly 39,000 homes, businesses, and farms while leveraging roughly US$110 million in private and local matching funds. By the end of 2018, 86 percent of homes and businesses had access to 100/20 Mbps up from 39 percent in 2015. Also, 93 percent of homes and businesses had access to 25/3 Mbps up from 70 percent in 2011. In 2019, the legislature appropriated an additional US$40 million in funding for broadband grants over the following two years.

According to Angie Dickson, OBD broadband development manager, the state of Minnesota recognized early on that broadband access is a vital component of the state’s economy and all of its communities, especially its rural ones (Interview, January 2020). By maintaining this commitment consistently over time, Minnesota has taken major strides toward achieving digital inclusiveness.

After the Fact: what are the 21 million who aren’t online doing during the pandemic

Kathryn de Wit, manager of Pew’s broadband research initiative, explains who’s not online and shares what some states and communities are doing to bridge connectivity gaps in this recent podcast.

She talks about the need for understanding broadband need and mapping, when it comes to distributing funds to make broadband happen, especially in rural areas.

We’re talking about multiple areas, multiple departments in government who handle possible solutions and affordability.

The problem of home access is highlighted now that people can’t go to libraries, schools, fast food restaurants and other public places to access broadband to get work their work and homework done.

2020 MN Broadband County Ranking for 25/3 speeds – how do you rank?

The new MN County broadband maps are now up on the Office of Broadband Development websites- show percentage of each county with (and without) broadband access. It’s always interesting to use the new maps to see how the counties rank. Who is in the best shape in the short and long term? In this post I look at how counties rank when looking at access to 25 Mbps down and 3 up, which is the MN speed goal for 2022. (I will do another post that looks at 2026 goals of 100 Mbps down and 20 up and one on Gig access.) And I will compare to 2019 ranking.

Top 10 MN Counties for Speeds of 25/3

  1. Red Lake 99.99
  2. Rock 99.93
  3. Ramsey 99.86
  4. Clearwater 99.74
  5. Lac qui Parle 99.57
  6. Swift 99.54
  7. Beltrami 99.49
  8. Big Stone 99.48
  9. Hennepin 99.40
  10. Stevens 99.22

Great to see the top 10 with more than 99 percent coverage. The counties in bold were on this same list last year. Congrats to LqP for joining the list; it wasn’t much of a climb for them but nice all the same.

Bottom 10 MN Counties for Speeds of 25/3 (starting with worst)

  1. Redwood 44.59
  2. Todd 53.73
  3. Lake of the Woods 57.91
  4. Yellow Medicine 59.83
  5. Pine 60.24
  6. Kanabec 60.75
  7. Lincoln 60.91
  8. Fillmore 61.52
  9. Meeker 62.46
  10. Aitkin 63.62

Again the counties in bold were on this list last year. Both Redwood and Todd were listed at having greater coverage last year. I will dive into that when I look at County Profiles but it seems like perhaps providers are looking in greater granularity at the coverage this year or maybe updates were made to maps based on challenges from last year.

I want to cheer the counties who got off the bottom 10 list:

  • Marshall from 82 to 74
  • Murray from 81 to 78
  • Renville from 79 to 76
  • Martin from 78 to 38!!

You can download the full spreadsheet of MN county details or check out the table below. (I know the table will not transfer well to the website BUT it will be searchable.) Continue reading

Venture Forward: socioeconomic factors, venture growth and prosperity in MN Counties

Last month, Go Daddy released Venture Forward, a report on the impact of local ventures on a community and impact of community on local ventures. I wrote about it earlier – and decided that it made sense to write two posts. One on the high level look at the report – and this one focusing on what we can learn about Minnesota Counties. You could slice and dice this info many useful ways and I will likely dig in when I do the County Profile reports but for now I’ve kept it pretty high level. But know that Go Daddy tracked data regulalry between May 2018 to Dece 2019. You can check out your county especially if you know there’s been a change in broadband access or other factors in your area! (Get spreadsheet of MN County data.)

A quick reminder from my earlier more on why local ventures are important:

  • Each new venture per 100 people increases the predicted prosperity of a county by an average of 0.4 pts; or 1.4 pts if the venture is highly-active
  • On average, counties with 2.5 or more ventures per 100 people saw a net gain in economic prosperity since the Great Recession of 2008.
  • Adding one highly active venture per 100 people in a county increases median income by $331 on average or over 19%

Here some Top 10 lists based on how Minnesota Counties rank – you can get compete lists in spreadsheet form. The first two lists come from data based Go Daddy, which means they are updated  as of December 2019.

Top 10 in Venture Density (ventures per 100 people)

  1. Lyon County 10.96020222
  2. Hennepin County 10.1336298
  3. Dakota County 9.492868423
  4. Chisago County 8.988284111
  5. Cook County 8.495574951
  6. Carver County 8.300045013
  7. Scott County 7.769239902
  8. Ramsey County 7.42700386
  9. Crow Wing County 7.171596527
  10. Wright County 6.472303867

Top 10 in Highly Active Ventures

  1. Cook County 2.411504462
  2. Hennepin County 2.237640508
  3. Dakota County 1.915973052
  4. Carver County 1.686515287
  5. Lake of the Woods County 1.68295335
  6. Scott County 1.562431455
  7. Ramsey County 1.556159183
  8. Pope County 1.485350262
  9. Douglas County 1.43686356
  10. Lake County 1.331908815

The rest of the information comes from 2017 American Community Survey, 5-year estimates or 2018 Economic Innovation Group, Distressed Communities Index, which means the data is not as up to date.

Top 10 Ag (percentage employed in ag)

  1. Traverse County 18
  2. Kittson County 16
  3. Norman County 15.30000019
  4. Lincoln County 14.89999962
  5. Wilkin County 13.60000038
  6. Renville County 13.5
  7. Lac qui Parle County 13.5
  8. Marshall County 13.30000019
  9. Pipestone County 12.69999981
  10. Murray County 12

Top 10 Ag (percentage employed in retail)

  1. Koochiching County 17.70000076
  2. Pennington County 17.29999924
  3. Kittson County 14.30000019
  4. Douglas County 14.30000019
  5. Crow Wing County 14.19999981
  6. Stearns County 13.80000019
  7. Sherburne County 13.69999981
  8. Hubbard County 13.5
  9. Freeborn County 13.39999962
  10. Becker County 13.39999962

Top 10 in Prosperity (EPI)

  1. Scott County 97.79957581
  2. Washington County 92.739151
  3. Dakota County 90.70198822
  4. Carver County 89.37926483
  5. Rice County 89.28246307
  6. Wright County 89.06459045
  7. Clay County 87.614151
  8. Olmsted County 86.4201889
  9. Nicollet County 85.7696991
  10. Wabasha County 80.88555145

Top 10 change in Prosperity from 2016 to 2017

  1. Aitkin County 14.83516312
  2. Isanti County 10.38163757
  3. Wadena County 8.680400848
  4. Anoka County 8.203529358
  5. Norman County 7.440498352
  6. Meeker County 7.242202759
  7. Chisago County 6.579452515
  8. Douglas County 6.558887482
  9. Kanabec County 6.447067261
  10. Sherburne County 5.867752075

Top 10 change in Median Income from 2016 to 2017

  1. Sherburne County 5814
  2. Isanti County 4832
  3. Carver County 4457
  4. Rock County 3918
  5. Chisago County 3839
  6. Lake County 3758
  7. Chippewa County 3560
  8. Carlton County 3267
  9. Anoka County 3217
  10. Hubbard County 3199

Top 10 (really bottom 10 – but most positive) Unemployment rate

  1. Wilkin County 1.4
  2. Rock County 1.9
  3. Chippewa County 2
  4. Brown County 2.3
  5. Carver County 2.4
  6. Watonwan County 2.4
  7. Stevens County 2.6
  8. Roseau County 2.6
  9. Kittson County 2.6
  10. Cook County 2.6

In the nerdiest way, I am really looking forward to the County Profiles this year – especially with this data. I see that they had the same difficulty I had with the report I did two years ago on the Community ROI on Public Investment in broadband. Specifically, the stats that track income, unemployment and prosperity lag behind broadband deployment and adoption. But every year we get a better historical perspective and we can apply predicted improvements based on updated data related to ventures.

Venture Forward: socioeconomic factors impact venture growth, venture growth impacts community prosperity

Last month, Go Daddy released Venture Forward, a report on the impact of local ventures on a community and impact of community on local ventures. It looks at how different socioeconomic factors affect venture growth and compare city rankings across our database of 900+ U.S. city regions. Here’s a description of the report from Daily Yonder

A new dataset from GoDaddy (a large retailer of website domain names and hosting services) provides some new insight into this topic.  The data focuses on “ventures” which are defined as individual domain names with an active website.  Using data from over 20 million websites, GoDaddy has developed an intriguing measure of broadband use by assessing how many ventures exist per 100 people.  GoDaddy estimates that about 75% of the active websites are business-oriented (as opposed to nonprofit or personal sites).

Here is the map from the Daily Yonder site that caught my attention – it highlights venture density in non-metrocounties – the darker the color, the greater the venture density…

You can see the diversity in venture density with a nod to cook for higher percentage! (For something really good you can check out the growth of ventures in an intereactive map on Go Daddy, track May 2018 to Dec 2019. Check out your county especially if you know there’s been a change in broadband access or other factors in your area!)

So what does is mean for a community to have a greater density or more active ventures?

  • Each new venture per 100 people increases the predicted prosperity of a county by an average of 0.4 pts; or 1.4 pts if the venture is highly-active
  • On average, counties with 2.5 or more ventures per 100 people saw a net gain in economic prosperity since the Great Recession of 2008.
  • Adding one highly active venture per 100 people in a county increases median income by $331 on average or over 19%

Go Daddy makes this info available at the county-level. I have also looked at Minnesota counties and the report – for another post.

Get a nice high level look on why this is valuable:

(In the spirit of full disclosure I host a few dozens websites with GO Daddy and have for 20 years.)

Broadband is nonprofit silver lining at a dark time

Minneapolis Star Tribunev reports…

Minnesota nonprofits lost an estimated $1 billion in revenue in April because the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of fundraising events and reductions or closures of other revenue-generating programs.

But the news isn’t all bad…

One silver lining of the crisis: It’s prompting nonprofits to develop new skills, to collaborate in new ways, and to diversify revenue sources. One organization that had studied telehealth delivery for four years figured out how to launch a program in just four days because of the crisis, Pratt said.