ST. PAUL – State Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that Otter Tail Telcom was awarded $517,441 as part of 71 Greater Minnesota grants issued to expand broadband access.
According to a press release from DEED, the funding will assist with projects in both the Battle Lake and Fergus Falls areas.
The Fergus Falls project will serve 79 unserved households near Elizabeth and in rural Fergus Falls. Otter Tail Telecom will provide services that will improve telecommuting opportunities for workers, encourage residents to start new businesses, and serve as a magnet for attracting new businesses. The total eligible project cost is $558,542, with $279,271 local match.
The Battle Lake project will serve 62 unserved households in the Clitherall and Battle Lake areas. Otter Tail Telecom will provide services that will improve telecommuting opportunities for workers, encourage residents to start businesses, and serve as a magnet for attracting new businesses. The total eligible project cost is $476,340, with a $238,170 local match.
“Congratulations to the people who were instrumental in submitting this successful grant application,” Nornes said. “Competition for these dollars can be steep. I was happy to support these projects with letters of recommendation during the grant application process and am now pleased to see their efforts pan out. The local matches that are being provided are significant and show their commitment to serving Otter Tail.”
Approximately $32 million of the $35 million in grants were targeted toward unserved areas of the state – ensuring that broadband grants are going to the communities that need it most. Additionally, because of policy reforms to the program, the Minnesota State Broadband fund leveraged Connect America Fund Phase II federal broadband funding to amplify connectivity into rural areas of the state. In total, Minnesota is expected to see half a billion dollars in combined state and federal broadband funding between 2015 and 2021.
The Legislature approved a total of $45 million in broadband grants during the 2015 and 2016 legislative biennium. When combined with federal CAF II funds, Minnesota will see more than $100 million in broadband expansion this year alone.