The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Wednesday announced grants totaling $34 million for 42 broadband infrastructure projects that will provide 16,627 households, 2,240 businesses, and 71 community institutions across Minnesota access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
The new state funding will help level the playing field for households and businesses in Greater Minnesota by providing them access the same opportunities available to urban area residents. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith secured the $34 million to expand high-speed internet access during the 2016 Legislative Session, after first proposing a $100 million investment.
Minnesota’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Program provides internet providers grants to expand broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved. The funding pays for up to 50 percent of the cost of developing broadband for improved high-speed internet in communities across the state.
Projects across West Central and Southwest Minnesota include:
Consolidated Telecommunications Co., Kandiyohi County – $4.94 million. The project will serve 1,439 unserved households, 149 unserved businesses and four community anchor institutions in the New London, Spicer and Willmar areas. Consolidated Telecommunications Co. will improve broadband service to advance community and economic development. The total eligible project cost is $9.87 million, with a $4.94 million local match.
Frontier, Kandiyohi Initiative – $1.02 million. The project will serve 1,147 unserved households, 7 unserved businesses and 7 unserved community anchor institutions in rural Kandiyohi County. Frontier will provide broadband services that will help businesses grow and will improve work-life balance for employees. The total eligible project cost is $2.03 million, with $1.01 million local match.
Arvig-Redwood County Telephone, Middle Mile Fiber Extension – $27,998. This project will serve 15 unserved households and 20 unserved businesses near Morgan. Arvig–Redwood Telephone will improve service levels to this rural area, which is home to Minnesota’s annual FarmFest and relies on quality broadband service for precision agriculture applications and to monitor crops and livestock. The total eligible project cost is $62,218, with a $34,220 local match.
Lismore Cooperative Telephone Co., Nobles County Broadband – $2.94 million. This project will serve 469 unserved households, 1,060 unserved businesses and 6 unserved community anchor institutions in Nobles County. Lismore Cooperative and other partners will provide services that improve opportunities for health care, education and telecommuting. The total eligible project cost is $5.89 million, with a $2.94 million local match.
Martin County (with Frontier), Rural Broadband Initiative – $1.68 million. This project will serve 1,784 unserved households, 51 unserved businesses and nine unserved community institutions in Martin County. Frontier Communications will partner with Martin County to provide services that will attract economic development and make businesses more competitive. The total eligible project cost is $3.5 million, with a $1.82 million local match.
Midco, Canby to Marshall Middle Mile and Last Mile in Porter-Taunton-Minneota-Ghent – $623,000. This project will serve 1,029 unserved households, 29 unserved businesses and 11 unserved community institutions in the communities of Porter, Taunton, Minneota, Ghent and Canby in Yellow Medicine and Lyon counties. Midco will improve service levels for 100 percent of the homes and businesses in those areas. The total eligible project costs are $1.6 million, with a $976,000 local match.
New Ulm Telecom Inc., Hanska – $200,397. This project will serve 14 unserved households and 32 unserved businesses in Lake Hanska Township in Brown County and Riverdale Township in Watonwan County. New Ulm Telephone will improve service levels in an area populated with farms and home-based businesses. The total eligible project cost is $445,326, with a $244,929 local match.
Renville County, Hiawatha Broadband Communications & RS Fiber – $807,966. This project will serve 193 unserved households, 99 unserved businesses and th3ree community anchor institutions in portions of Preston Lake, Boon Lake, Brookfield, Osceola, Kingman, Winfield, Crooks, Erickson, Sacred Heart (North), Emmet, Flora, Henryville, Norfolk, Birch Cooley, Camp and Cairo townships in Renville County. Hiawatha Broadband Communications and RS Fiber will provide improved services that officials hope will stimulate business and population growth. The total eligible project cost is $2.07 million, with a $1.26 million local match.
Woodstock Telephone, Westbrook – $412,391. This project will serve 368 unserved households, 29 unserved businesses and 7 unserved community anchor institutions in Westbrook in Cottonwood County. Woodstock will improve services that encourage business growth and more access to health care, education and telecommuting opportunities. The total eligible project cost is $916,424, with a $504,033 local match.