ST. PAUL, MN—Representative Sandy Layman, R-Cohasset, issued the following statement regarding today's announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that Hubbard, Becker, and Itasca Counties are among the Greater Minnesota communities to receive a state grant to expand broadband access.
According to a press release from DEED, the $1.74 million grant will expand broadband infrastructure in Hubbard, Becker, and Itasca Counties, bringing broadband access to 785 households, 26 unserved businesses, as well as improving business development, health care and educational opportunities in the community.
“Broadband expansion is an important way for our residents and small businesses to build our local economy,” said Layman. “I’m thrilled to see these grant dollars going to help thousands of folks in the area.”
Thanks to GOP-led efforts, $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 session. When combined with federal CAF II funds, Minnesota will see more than $100 million in broadband expansion this year alone.