Last week the Blandin Foundation sent a letter to the Minnesota office of USDA RUS in response to their request for input on how best to allocate ARRA funding to benefit rural Minnesota. In short, Blandin promoted funding projects that encourage collaboration and systematic change and suggested that RUS staff get involved in a local level – specifically by joining the Blandin Broadband Strategy Board and participating in local events.
This week we’re planning a meeting for folks who are interested in the stimulus funding. The meeting is open and I encourage you to join us – but please RSVP so that we can enough space (and chairs!) Below is the official invitation:
April 9, 2009
To: Key Minnesota Leaders
From: Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy & Engagement
RE: Broadband Stimulus Funding
Stimulus funding for broadband totals some $7.2 billion with USDA Rural Utility Service responsible for dispersing $2.5 billion and Commerce’s NTIA responsible for dispersing $4.7 billion. We know that people and organizations across the state are awaiting additional information on program rules and timelines while developing projects in anticipation of these funds.
Within the NTIA legislation are two programs in which Blandin Foundation has particular interest. Through our Blandin Broadband Initiative, we have been working on these types of projects for the last several years through our Get Broadband, Broadband Network Feasibility Fund, and LightSpeed grant programs.
- $250 million in grants for “innovative programs to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.”
- $200 million in grants for grants for “expanding public computer center capacity, including at community colleges and libraries.”
- Within the $350 million in funds for broadband mapping are opportunities for community technology planning and broadband efforts
We believe that Minnesota, and especially rural Minnesota, will be able to garner more NTIA resources with a coordinated and collaborative approach, than individual communities or organizations applying on their own. In addition, we believe that these funds would have greater impact across the state.
With that in mind, we would like to invite you to participate in a discussion and preliminary planning session. The goal of this session will be to get a sense of interest among possible partners in collaborating in such an effort, and to discuss roles, scope, and next steps.
Please feel free to pass this invitation on to those you think will be interested in participating. For more information, contact me at 218-327-8728 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors at 651-491-2551 or email@example.com