Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) today announced that $11 million in grants have been awarded for projects to expand broadband access in 15 Greater Minnesota communities. Lt. Governor Smith made the announcement at the Blandin Foundation’s “Border to Border Broadband: Better Together” Conference.
“We need border-to-border broadband Internet access to build an economy that works for all Minnesotans,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Broadband Internet access isn’t just nice, it’s necessary for Minnesota businesses to grow and our students to thrive. While these grants are a good start, significant need remains.”
This broadband funding was awarded under DEED’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, which Governor Mark Dayton signed into law in May 2014. This year, DEED received 44 applications for funding, totaling more than $29 million in requests. Recipients were selected based on an internal review and scoring process.
The latest round of broadband grants will improve access to high-speed broadband for 3,222 households, 786 businesses and nearly 90 community institutions throughout the state.
“By gaining access to broadband, these rural communities will increase economic development, improve living standards and enhance education and public services,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben.
“While we are pleased to assist in the development of these projects, there are many other communities waiting to receive access to high speed Internet and additional resources are urgently needed."
Now in its second year, the program’s first round of funding awarded $19.4 million to 17 Greater Minnesota communities in February of this year.