Kandiyohi County to focus federal funding (ARP) on broadband

West Central Tribune reports

he main focus of the EDC committee is the Federated Telephone fiber broadband project for Dovre, Mamre, St. Johns and Arctander townships. So far, about 681 properties could receive high-speed broadband through fiber if the project is completed.

“This is good news for the people in this area,” Schmoll said.

The project is estimated to cost around $9.7 million and funding is coming from a variety of sources. Federated is funding 25% of the project, and each individual property being hooked up to the new service will have to pay around $1,246, based on current cost projections.

The county has already approved two different funding requests for the project. The first was a $25,000 grant, available to any township in the county expanding broadband access. The second pot of money was $1.3 million from the county’s American Rescue Plan allocation.

More details…

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners has already decided to focus most of the county’s share of the federal funding to broadband, bringing a big lift to the work being done by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission broadband committee.

“They are giving us the opportunities to get the funds we need to make these projects possible,” said Connie Schmoll, broadband planner, at Thursday’s meeting of the EDC Joint Powers Board.

Large swaths of Kandiyohi County, and the state as a whole, are considered underserved or unserved, meaning properties don’t have access to 100 megabits per second download and 20 mbps upload internet speeds. During the pandemic, it became obvious for many that working and learning from home just wasn’t possible without high-speed, reliable internet.

Schmoll said she heard stories of parents going into the office, when they should not have done so, because they needed to save whatever internet speed they had at home for the children’s distance learning.

Here’s info on their main focus…

The main focus of the EDC committee is the Federated Telephone fiber broadband project for Dovre, Mamre, St. Johns and Arctander townships. So far, about 681 properties could receive high-speed broadband through fiber if the project is completed.

“This is good news for the people in this area,” Schmoll said.

The project is estimated to cost around $9.7 million and funding is coming from a variety of sources. Federated is funding 25% of the project, and each individual property being hooked up to the new service will have to pay around $1,246, based on current cost projections.

The county has already approved two different funding requests for the project. The first was a $25,000 grant, available to any township in the county expanding broadband access. The second pot of money was $1.3 million from the county’s American Rescue Plan allocation.

And a few smaller projects…

In addition to the Federated projects, the committee is looking at other projects across the county. At the July 20 meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board, the commissioners approved sending $35,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to a Charter project in the 141st Avenue Northeast area in New London Township. A small project, it would bring services to 37 unserved homes in the area.

A $1 million project, developed by Arvig, could hook up 510 premises in Prinsburg to high-speed internet. Potential funding sources for that project include American Rescue Plan money from both the county and city of Prinsburg, along with $450,000 from Arvig and another $175,000 from a mix of the school, city and residents.