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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Swedzinski touts successful area broadband grant

Wednesday, January 11, 2017



ST. PAUL – State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that a District 16A entity is receiving $623,000 as one of 71 Greater Minnesota grants to expand broadband access.

According to a press release from DEED, the project will serve 1,029 unserved households, 29 unserved businesses and 11 unserved community institutions in the communities of Porter, Taunton, Minneota, Ghent and Canby in Yellow Medicine and Lyon counties. Midcontinent Communications will improve service levels for 100 percent of the homes and businesses in those areas. The total eligible project costs are $1.6 million, with a $976,000 local match.

“This is a major advancement in internet service for our area and all across Minnesota,” Swedzinski said. “So much of what we do today is web-based, yet too many pockets of unreliable service exist. The grant funding House Republicans successfully championed last biennium will make an incredible difference with this project and others like it in Minnesota, helping to close those gaps. Big-time credit goes to the people who were instrumental in landing this grant for our area.”

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 (CAF 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.