The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is awarding $23,270,933 in Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funds to 30 broadband projects across the state.
The projects will bring broadband access to underserved and unserved areas of Minnesota, providing internet access for more than 10,900 businesses, homes and community anchor institutions.
Gov. Tim Walz says that fast, reliable broadband access is a critical economic development tool to improve quality of life and make businesses in greater Minnesota more competitive. The grants will help the state get closer to its goal of ensuring that every Minnesotan has high-speed internet access by 2022.
During the 2019 legislative session, Walz signed into law a total of $40 million in one-time funds for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program in 2020 and 2021. Altogether, DEED received requests for $70 million in funding for 80 different applications during the latest grant application round.
The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program is primarily targeted towards communities in outstate Minnesota where broadband infrastructure is not as likely to be at a level that is needed to support economic equity.
The state of Minnesota has set a goal for universal access and high-speed internet so that by no later than 2022, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of at least 3 megabits per second. And by no later than 2026, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.
WHERE THE PROJECTS ARE: This map of Minnesota shows where broadband projects will receive grant funding in 2020.
This is the fifth year of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program. This latest round of grants brings the number of homes and businesses provided broadband access through the grant program since 2014 to a total of 49,900.
Here are some of the projects and their grant amounts:
AcenTek, Rural Houston Exchange FTTH, $2,895,318. This last mile project will upgrade approximately 485 unserved and 424 underserved locations in areas of Houston and Winona Counties.
Arvig (Loretel Systems Inc.), Cormorant Lakes Area Project, $430,780. This middle and last mile project will upgrade approximately 481 unserved locations near Pelican Lake, Lake Ida, Turtle Lake, and Big Cormorant Lake in Otter Tail, Becker, and Clay Counties.
Benton Cooperative Telephone Co., Ramey Phase I, $936,759. This last mile project will serve approximately 253 unserved households, nine unserved businesses, two unserved town halls, and 97 unserved farms in the Ramey ILEC exchange in portions of Alberta and Granite Ledge Townships in Benton County, and portions of Hillman, Lakin and Morrill townships in Morrison County, and a portion of Page Township in Mille Lacs County.
BEVCOMM (Eckles Telephone Co.), Le Sueur County Project, $1,857,376. This last mile project will upgrade approximately 417 unserved households, 88 unserved farms, 59 unserved businesses, and 4 community anchor institutions in rural areas around the communities of Montgomery, Heidelberg, and New Prague in Le Sueur, Rice, and Scott Counties.
BEVCOMM (Blue Earth Valley Telephone Co. & Easton Telephone Co.), Rural Faribault County Project, $579,781. This last mile project will upgrade approximately 112 unserved and six underserved households, 50 unserved farms, and eight unserved businesses in areas of Faribault and Martin Counties.
Midco (Midcontinent Communications), Renville Project, $230,835. This last mile project will upgrade approximately 644 unserved households and 33 unserved businesses, farms and community anchor institutions in areas of the town of Renville in Renville County.
Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative, MLEC Phase 3 FTTH Project with CTC, $1,253,955. This last mile project will serve 282 unserved and 225 underserved households, businesses and farms in areas of Farm Island and Nordland Townships in Aitkin County.
MVTC (Minnesota Valley Telephone Co. Inc.), Rural Lucan Fiber Project, $635,400. This middle and last mile project will upgrade approximately 23 unserved households, 99 unserved farms, and three unserved businesses in portions of Vesta, Granite Rock, Johnsonville, Waterbury, Westline, and Vail Townships in Redwood County.
Nuvera Communications, Inc., New Ulm SW Project, $385,600. This last mile project will serve 51 unserved households, 13 unserved businesses, and 64 unserved farms in the New Ulm area in Brown County.
Wikstrom Telephone, Wiktel NW MN Broadband Project, $1,151,526. This last mile project will upgrade approximately 316 unserved locations in areas of Kittson, Marshall, Lake of the Woods, Pennington and Roseau counties.
For more information on the state’s broadband grant program, visit the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development.