ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Walz announces $23 million in rural broadband grants

012220.BROADBAND.PNG
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, Jan. 21 announced $23 million will go toward broadband development in 30 communities throughout Minnesota. Image courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
We are part of The Trust Project.

ST PAUL -- Thousands of Minnesotans previously left in the dark will now be plugged into the internet thanks to $23 million in grants from the state.

Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, Jan. 21, announced that nearly 11,000 homes, businesses and institutions in 30 communities across Minnesota will receive state and local funds to build broadband infrastructure, thanks to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.

"We all know that (broadband access) is far more than just a nice thing to have," Walz said at Tuesday's news conference in St. Paul. "This is an economic development tool. It's absolutely critical to equity in education and opportunity across Minnesota."

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove on Tuesday said that in this age, broadband access is a "right," not a luxury, like running water and electricity. But telecommunications companies are unwilling to shoulder the substantial cost of building rural broadband infrastructure alone, he said. That's where state dollars can help.

"These grants help us reach that last mile of service in Minnesota and our goal to be a model state where you don't have to move to a metro to participate in the 21st century economy," Grove said in a Tuesday news release.

ADVERTISEMENT

Each of the 30 state grants are being matched with local dollars, as well. The program is part of a bill Walz signed in 2019 appropriating $40 million in one-time funds for broadband development over the course of two years. The next $20 million round of grants will come in 2021. DEED says they have received a total of 80 applications for broadband grants, totaling $70 million.

The project sites range from Faribult County in the south, to Kittson County in the north and in between. Three tribal reservations -- Bois Forte, Fond du Lac and Leech Lake -- are receiving grants, as well.

Mearhoff is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. You can reach her at smearhoff@forumcomm.com or 651-290-0707.
What to read next
The Cowbot would be a way to mow down thistles as a way to control the spread of weeds, "like a Roomba for a pasture," says Eric Buchanan, a renewable energy scientist at the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minnesota.
The Red River Valley Water Supply Project will sue farmland owners for eminent domain if they don’t sign easements before July 8, 2022. Farmers say the project is paying one-tenth what others pay for far smaller oil, gas and water pipelines.
Attendees to a recent meeting at a small country church on the border of Minnesota and South Dakota found armed guards at the church entrance. Then someone saw an AR-15, prompting a visit by the sheriff. It's the latest development in a battle for the soul of Singsaas Church near Astoria, South Dakota. The conflict pits a divisive new pastor and his growing nondenominational congregation, who revived the old church, and many descendants of the church's old families, worried about the future of a pioneer legacy.
Kernza has been getting some buzz in recent years for its multiple uses as a forage, a grain that can be used in the kitchen, and a plant beneficial to water quality and the environment. Alexandria High School in Minnesota is planting test plots to help its ag students learn more.