For more information contact: DJ Danielson 651-296-8879
ST. PAUL, Minn. – On Tuesday, Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced the 2017 Border-to-Border Broadband Grant recipients. Several grants were given for Northland projects including one for Paul Bunyan Communications to improve access in communities such as Bigfork, Side Lake and others in St. Louis, Itasca, and Hubbard Counties.
“Paul Bunyan has demonstrated an ability to collaborate with communities to deliver strong results in other expansions, so I’m happy this project was included,” said Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL – Hibbing). “While I could not be more pleased to see these advancements in broadband moving forward, we still have a long way to go to serve the students, families, and businesses of rural Minnesota.”
The Paul Bunyan “last mile” project will expand internet access to 657 households, 29 businesses, and five community institutions “unserved” by high-speed broadband. 130 households, 13 businesses, and one community institutions are included currently categorized as “underserved.”
Under the private-public partnership, Paul Bunyan will build fiber-to-the-premise that will bring gigabit service to all of these locations, greatly exceeding the 2026 state and current federal speed goals.
Following the announcement, Rep. Sandstede renewed her call for increased investments in broadband throughout Minnesota. This past session, she championed a bill to invest $100 million in broadband infrastructure throughout the state, the biennial amount recommended by the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. The Republican legislative majority instead included just $20 million.
“Broadband is the rural electrification initiative of today, and we can’t have so many communities fighting over such a small piece of the pie if we truly want to make progress” Rep. Sandstede continued. “Expanded broadband is absolutely critical toward improving the quality of life and our efforts to diversify the economy on the Iron Range and elsewhere in Greater Minnesota.”
Funding under these grants can cover up to 50 percent of the cost of broadband expansion projects. In total, $26 million worth of grants for 39 broadband infrastructure projects were announced. These will provide 9,973 households, 2,169 businesses, and 60 community institutions across Minnesota access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
It’s estimated that 20 percent of households in Greater Minnesota don’t have comparable high-speed internet connections to those in the Twin Cities metro.
Rep. Sandstede encourages constituents to reach out to her about any issue. She can be reached by mail at 337 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 651-296-0172. She encourages constituents to sign up for periodic email updates at her House website, located at www.house.mn/6a.
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