Nobles County invests $4 million in broadband with local and ARPA funds

The Worthington Globe reports

The Nobles County Board of Commissioners boosted the local “Fiber to Home” broadband effort by reaffirming its $2 million commitment and kicking in another $2 million after a grant application for USDA funding was denied.

“We’re dumbfounded,” said Mark Loosbrock, secretary/treasurer of Lismore Cooperative Telephone Company, which spearheaded the project. “They had maps that our engineers, that nobody had. That’s why that money got denied.”

Loosbrock explained that in applying for the grant, engineers and consultants used maps to assess the area already served by broadband, and given that information had believed they would be given a high number of points on the grant’s scoring rubric. However, those assessing the application had maps not available to the co-op’s engineers, Loosbrock said.

However, the co-op was told it could apply for a grant in the next round of funding — which has a November deadline, driving co-op representatives to return to the county board to ask for direction and potentially, enough local matching funding to reapply for the grant.

They decided to double down on their investment…

In the end, commissioners reaffirmed their prior commitment of $2 million, once again contingent on the grant being accepted, and then voted to put $1 million of its federal American Rescue Plan Act money to the project.

Following those board actions, Commissioner Justin Ahlers proposed directing $250,000 of the county’s wind energy production money per year for four years toward the project — after calling Metz back to the commission to answer a few questions about the wind production funds. Metz said he anticipated better wind energy production gains this year, and then returned to his place in the audience.

Ahlers’ motion passed 3-0.

County Administrator Bruce Heitkamp praised the broadband initiative for its economic development potential, and Ahlers emphasized how important it is for education.

 

Sherburne County to invest $1.5 million from ARPA in better broadband

Patriot News reports...

Sherburne County Commissioners approved a $1.5 million grant program to expand broadband service to unserved and underserved areas of the county.

The money will help bring reliable, affordable high-speed internet to more Sherburne County households and businesses, with the funds coming from the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The grants will be awarded to service providers for eligible projects that provide service designed to reliably meet or exceed a symmetrical 100 Mbps download and upload speeds or, where symmetrical 100 Mbps speeds are not practicable, 100 Mbps download and at least 20 Mbps upload speeds.

They are looking for provider partners…

Sherburne County will accept applications for Broadband Access Grants through Sept. 30, 2022. Interested parties can find a link to the application at the county’s website: http://www.co.sherburne.mn.us.

OPPORTUNITY: Sherburne County to invest $1.5 million ARPA funds into better broadband

KSNI radio St Cloud reports

A $1.5 million grant program for broadband service expansion in Sherburne County has been approved.

Sherburne County Commissioners approved the money, which will come from American Rescue Plan Act Funding, to help bring affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service to more homes and businesses. The grants will be awarded for eligible projects that meet or exceed certain upload and download speeds.

“Investing in broadband is a County Board priority that creates opportunities to boost growth and prosperity throughout Sherburne County,” said Board Chair Barbara Burandt.

Applications will be accepted through September 30th.

Learn more by clicking here.

Mower County looking at using RODF, ARPA and Border to Border funds to improve broadband access

Gov Tech reports on Mower County’s plans for better broadband. It reads like alphabet soup with a mix of RDOF, ARPA and BTB funds, which is both of sign of the complexity and availability of various funding sources right now. If you’re community needs better access and they aren’t looking into options like these you should ask why. There’s a lot of money being invested right now but that won’t go on forever…

During the Mower County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, County Administrator Trish Harren laid out where the county currently stands in getting better broadband Internet coverage for the county.

As of last year, nearly 85% of the county’s residents had access to broadband, but that access is mostly condensed to high population densities, which includes Austin and small town areas.

More detail…

While 85% of the population is served, however, nearly 90% of the geographical makeup of Mower remains underserved.
That leaves large swaths of the county with either spotty coverage or no coverage at all.
However, a pair of funding opportunities are allowing the county some flexibility in terms of filling out that coverage.
Through the Federal Communications Commission’s based Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and Minnesota Border to Border (BTB) grants, Mower County is hoping to spread that access even further.
The RDOF uses an auction format where the winner of a reverse bidding process agrees to build out for a certain amount of money. In Mower County, LTD Communications was a top 10 bidder at $1.3 billion. They are also the largest provider in this area. Charter Communications had a bid of $1.2 billion
BTB runs through a grant process with a well of $95 billion to draw from in grant money. Grant applications for that program are due by Aug. 4.

And info on specific, proposed projects…

The northeast LTD project would come in at an estimated $2.45 million and would lay 82 miles of fiber over an area north of Grand Meadow and stretching east to parts surrounding Racine. It would also include 376 passings, or physical locations where residences and businesses would hardwire into the fiber network.
The southwest project would lay 138 miles of fiber with 209 passings at an estimated cost of $3.5 million over an area south of Austin and stretching east to the Rose Creek area.
Charter will also be part of this BTB project, serving an area to the south of Austin where LTD doesn’t serve. Its side of the overall project will include 99 passings coming in at around $677,000.
In order to form a partnership with projects coming out of the RDOF and the BTB programs, the county has agreed to set aside $750,000 in ARPA money of which $585,000 will be committed to the LTD projects and $99,000 will be committed to the Charter project.

Thomson Township pledge ARPA funds for Border to Border applications in Carlton County

The Pine Journal reports

Thomson Township supervisors made a resolution of support and pledged $187,500 to two broadband initiatives in the area during a meeting Thursday, July 21.

The two initiatives include a Mediacom broadband expansion and joining the Cloquet broadband project, both of which are applying to secure state funding for their projects.

Leah Pykkonen, the township’s deputy clerk, presented the Mediacom proposal to the board and explained its benefits.

According to Pykkonen, the project would cover 420 homes in the northern part of the township and connect to the existing infrastructure.

They will be using ARPA funds…

Town Clerk Rhonda Peleski said the township has $565,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds, and some of it could be allocated for broadband expansion. …

After some deliberation between board members, they agreed on pledging $150,000 to the Mediacom project.

The Cloquet broadband project, which the supervisors also pledged support to, has a smaller scope for the township as it would only cover 92 homes.

With that in mind, Paulson said it would make sense to give the project 25% of the funding, $37,500, as it would be closer to an equal share compared to the number of homes covered with the Mediacom project.

Sherburne County and Arvig partner of Border to Border grant applications for Haven Twp., Clear Lake Twp. and Elk River.

Patriot News reports

After 15-minute discussion last Tuesday, the Sherburne County Board Tuesday approved three grant applications by Arvig for broadband projects in Haven Twp., Clear Lake Twp. and Elk River.

Arvig has requested to partner with Sherburne County on 2022 State of MN Border to Border Broadband program applications. 

The grants are $666,406 for the Haven Twp. project, $192,477 in Clear Lake Twp. and $217,060.50 in Elk River. The board passed a resolution of commitment of 30% contribution for each project. Should Arvig be awarded any of the grants by the state, the county’s contribution (using ARPA funds) would be $499,804.50 for Haven Twp., $144,357.75 for Clear Lake Twp. and $162,795.38 for Elk River.

The projects would serve a total of 254 homes for the three projects combined.

The board tabled its decision on proposed broadband projects in Santiago Twp. and Becker Twp. until August. 

Otter Tail County invests $2.8 million of ARPA funds on broadband

Perham Focus reports

Otter Tail County commissioners have pinpointed how to spend about half of the $11.4 million allocated to the county via the American Rescue Plan Act.

During the County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 12 resolutions on fund allocations were reviewed. The funds come with stipulations, such as to decrease the spread of the virus, replace lost revenue for governmental entities, economic stabilization and to address public health challenges.

Here’s the broadband related investment…

  • $2.8 million (or technology) will go to technological infrastructure, such as broadband access expansion. It was noted the improvements in the county would also utilize state and federal sources.
  • $150,000 was earmarked for funding a jobs portal for three years. The strategy supports efforts to attract new employees and by doing so support businesses in the county that provide a living wage.

Arvig and Redwood County seek a Border to Border grant for better broadband

Telecompetitor reports

Regional provider Arvig and Redwood County, Minnesota, have agreed to work together on a $4.4 million public-private partnership to bring fiber to eight cities in the county.

The linchpin of the project will be approval of an application for a $1.3 million grant that Arvig and the county will make to the State of Minnesota Border to Border Broadband Development Grant program.

That funding would be supplemented by $1.2 million from Arvig and a local match of $1.9 million from the county. The county’s contribution will be money secured through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

If the Border to Border grant is received, the project will bring 1 Gbps connectivity to residential customers and 10 Gbps service to businesses in Belview, Clements, Morgan, Seaforth, Vesta, Wabasso, Walnut Grove and Wanda. More than 1,870 structures will be served, which represents about 30% of Redwood County residents.

If it goes forward, the Arvig public-private partnership project would be completed in June, 2025.

Treasury Announces Four Capital Projects Fund Awards – including $68.4 million in MN

The US Department of the Treasury reports

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of an additional group of four states under the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF): Kansas, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. The CPF provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. A key priority of the program is to make funding available for reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure and other digital connectivity technology projects. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) toward meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of connecting every American household to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. Through these two programs, the American Rescue Plan is supplying considerable federal broadband funding and laying the groundwork for future funding provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Here’s info on the award in Minnesota…

Minnesota, approved for $68.4 million (representing 38% of its available CPF funding), estimates it will connect 23,517 homes and businesses by using the funds for its Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, a competitive grant program designed to provide financial resources for new and existing ISPs to invest in building broadband infrastructure in areas of the state that currently lack high-speed internet.

St Louis County (MN) has ARPA funds available for broadband

Business North reports

Meanwhile, St. Louis County still has more than $610,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to distribute for eligible broadband projects. This includes $175,000 for broadband project planning costs, and $438,000 for project implementation costs. These funds are intended to increase broadband access in unserved and underserved communities in St. Louis County. More information on use of these funds can be found online at stlouiscountymn.gov/broadband. Any local jurisdiction interested in applying for these funds should contact Brad Gustafson, St. Louis County Community Development Manager, at gustafsonb@stlouiscountymn.gov or 218-742-9563.

The article also mentions the Border to Border grants, which are available to the entire state.

Scandia MN gets ARPA and RDOF funds for better broadband (Washington County)

The County Messenger reports

Last month, MidCo started work on the city’s 2022 internet expansion program. In 2020, the city of Scandia and the Internet Action Committee (IAC), established the expansion program as part of a five-year plan to increase internet speeds and accessibility within Scandia.

The goal is to add an average of 200 homes per year for the next five years (2020-2024). The city has been working with county, state and federal resources to secure funding for the project. “The city’s goal is to provide high-speed internet coverage to citizens of Scandia quickly at the lowest cost to the city by leveraging grants,” said City Administrator for Scandia, Ken Cammelliri.

Earlier this spring, the City of Scandia and MidCo were awarded a $100,000 grant through Washington County. Washington County was allocating $2 million for investments in broadband seeking request for funds. Cities, Townships and broadband providers were eligible to apply. Eligible project areas include any unserved or underserved area within Washington County. The city of Scandia was one of the first to apply for the grant. Funds for the grant come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“For purposes of the ARPA broadband grant, an unserved or underserved area includes households or businesses that are not currently serviced by a wireline connection that delivers reliable broadband service with a minimum speeds of 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload,” explained Jan Lucke, Deputy County Administrator for Washington County.

In addition to the grant, MidCo also received dollars from the Federal Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF.)

More detail…

“The build-out for 2022 includes 48 houses that will be covered by RDOF. The project area that’s involved with the grant money from Washington County is what we refer to as Oak Hill Rd North,” he explained.

“The remaining 114 homes for this year are to be covered by the City of Scandia and Washington County grants.”

The funds will help offset the costs for the 2022 construction season. The cost to the city will be $219,000. The cost to MidCo will be $259,736.

 

Broadband funding results from MN Legislative Session 2022

Here is the most succinct description of future funding approved in Minnesota by the Legislature (from the Minneapolis Star Tribune)…

Broadband: State leaders will spend $50 million over the next three years to expand high-speed internet access through a border-to-border broadband grant program. Minnesota is also using federal dollars for broadband development, with $60.7 million from the American Rescue Plan and $100 million in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act cash.

Kandiyohi County, Charter Communications partner on $800,000 broadband project to serve 170 customers with ARPA funds

West Central Tribune reports…

Elected officials from Kandiyohi County and representatives from Charter Communications symbolically broke ground Monday on an $800,000 project that Charter said will bring broadband internet service to more than 170 rural, unserved homes and small businesses.

The event in New London Township was also a celebration of the partnerships between local elected officials and Charter Communications that made the project possible.

The agreement between Kandiyohi County and Charter Communications includes nearly $240,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding that was secured by the county, along with more than $563,000 in private investment from Charter.

St. Louis County says yes to Rice Lake broadband project

Duluth News Tribune reports

The city of Rice Lake will bring broadband internet to its City Hall and connect more than 200 households and businesses, following a decision by the St. Louis County Board last week.

The board voted unanimously to support $400,000 to go with a city of Rice Lake match to make the $835,835 deal a reality.

Consolidated Telephone Co., headquartered in Brainerd, has committed $35,835 toward the project, and is contracted to install the fiber-optic network.

“We’re looking at 267 connections with this project,” Rice Lake City Councilor Suzanne Herstad told the board May 3 in Duluth. “Hopefully, this will still be a good building block to start doing a piece here and there, setting up loops wherever we can.”

Herstad noted the failure of a larger federal application, and still wanting to partner on continued efforts at improved rural broadband connectivity with Gnesen Township to the north, and Lakewood, Grand Lake and Normanna townships in surrounding directions.

They are using ARP funding…

“This is a much-scaled-down project,” Herstad said, explaining how Rice Lake City Hall, 4107 W. Beyer Road, had been using satellite internet, but is required to hold a static internet protocol address in order to conduct election business.

Kandiyohi County spends almost $500,000 on ARPA on broadband in Hawick and around Long Lake

The West Central Tribune reports…

Over the last several weeks, the Broadband and Advanced Technology Committee has been working closely with Vibrant Broadband of the Meeker Cooperative Light and Power Association to design and obtain funding for broadband projects on the east side of the county.

The committee is part of the Kandiyohi County and city of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

“Broadband has been such a priority for us and we’ve struggled to get things moving,” said Kandiyohi County Commissioner Corky Berg.

At the April 19 County Board meeting, the commissioners approved spending $444,700 of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation toward a fiber-to-the-home broadband project in Hawick and around Long Lake. The project would reach 289 properties that are currently underserved or unserved by high-speed broadband. …

The total project is estimated to cost $1,005,000. Roseville and Irving townships will be providing $57,800 in funding for the project, with Vibrant funding the rest.

Since the county’s $8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds began to arrive, the County Board has planned to dedicate nearly 75% of it to broadband expansion. While a few of the projects need grant approvals to move forward, the county has approved funding to a handful of smaller plans.