LITTLE FALLS, MN—Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, issued the following statement regarding today's announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) of 15 broadband grants totaling $11 million to bring broadband access to unserved and underserved parts of the state thanks to funding included in the 2015 Special Session Jobs and Energy Omnibus bill.
According to a press release from DEED, two area telecommunications companies are among this year's grant recipients.
Consolidated Telecommunications Company will receive a $759,525 grant for the Fort Ripley Phase II project which will bring access to 272 households and is being matched by private funding.
West Central Telephone Association will also receive funding for the Highway 71 Wadena North Expansion Project. $193,515 will help bring broadband service to 162 households, 43 businesses, and three other community institutions. 91% of the project's $2.12 million price tag will be covered by West Central Telephone Association and other local/regional organizations.
"These grants are a big help to residents of our area, and I look forward to building on our broadband investments next session," Kresha said. "It was our goal to focus state funding in unserved and underserved areas of Greater Minnesota, and I'm glad our communities will be able to take advantage of these grant opportunities. I plan to continue working with Todd County next year to ensure we're able to move broadband infrastructure forward in that area as well."
The legislature approved $11 million in broadband grants during the 2015 legislative session, and it was announced earlier this summer that Connect America Funding (CAF) from the federal government is expected to bring more than $500 million in broadband funding to Minnesota in the coming years.
2015 state grants were announced at Friday's Blandin Foundation "Border to Border Broadband: Better Together" Conference which took place in Minneapolis. Kresha is set to participate in a panel discussion on broadband at the conference later this afternoon.