(NOTE: this article from the Redwood County Economic Development Authority contains additional details about several broadband Internet programs that KLGR first did an article about last week.)

Two internet service providers have been awarded a State Border to Border Broadband Development Grant for two projects in Redwood County.

On Thurs., Dec. 8, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development held a press conference to announce the grant award recipients of the State Border to Border Broadband Development Grant program, which included two applications submitted for fiber to the premises projects to ten cities within Redwood County.

Internet service provider Arvig was one of the recipients of the grant. The application submitted in partnership with the Redwood County Economic Development Authority (EDA) was to seek $1.3 million to deploy a fiber network. The project in total is $4.4 million, which includes a $1.9 million appropriation from Redwood County utilizing the Federal American Rescue Plan dollars as the local match, and Arvig committed to fund the remaining $1.2 million. The network when complete in June 2025, will serve 1,870 locations with internet speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) for residents and up to 10 Gbps for businesses within the cities of Belview, Clements, Morgan, Seaforth, Vesta, Wabasso, Walnut Grove and Wanda.

Internet service provider Hanson Communications was also a grant recipient. The application submitted was to seek $924,000 to deploy a fiber network, to include a contribution of $1.3 million by Hanson Communications to serve as the local match, for a project total of $2.3 million. The 529 locations within the cities of Lamberton and Revere will be able to access speeds of 1 Gbps by June 2025. 

“The installment of fiber in these communities fulfills a long-term priority for Redwood County, as the county ranks 85 of 87 counties in the state with access to an internet speed of at least 100 Mbps download, and 20 Mbps upload speed,” said Redwood County Board Chair Jim Salfer. “Access to high-speed internet gives us a competitive edge as efforts are made to recruit and retain residents and businesses. With the completion of these projects, as well as other secured broadband projects, every city within the county and the Lower Sioux Indian Community will be served with a fiber network by 2026. We know there are sites within some of our townships left to be served and the EDA remains committed to reaching the goal that everyone can access high-speed internet.” 

The Border to Border Development Grant program was developed in 2014 to provide financial support to invest in building broadband infrastructure into unserved and underserved areas of the state. Utilizing $25 million in state general revenue fund, and $70 million in Capital Projects Funds, a total of $95 million was allocated to the program for this grant cycle.