State broadband applications increase in latest funding round

Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has closed the application process for $10.58 million in funding that is available to build out broadband infrastructure in Greater Minnesota.

The agency’s Office of Broadband Development said it received requests for $29.06 million from 44 entities by the September 15 application deadline. During the previous application period, the state received 40 applications. Funding for the agency’s Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program was approved during the 2015 legislative session.

“With grant requests nearly triple the available funding, it’s clear that the need for investment in rural broadband access is significant,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “The $10.58 million available this year is a start, but it’s essential that the Legislature provide sufficient funding next session.”

Visit http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/index.jsp to view for a list of entities seeking funding and the areas that would be served.

Under the program, entities can use the funding to pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of expanding broadband service in unserved or underserved regions of Minnesota. The maximum grant available to any single entity is $5 million.

“The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program is serving an important need throughout Minnesota by providing access to high-quality, high-speed broadband service to our citizens, businesses and public buildings,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “The increase in applications during this funding round is a reminder that there are still a number of communities that lack high-speed broadband access.”

DEED officials said internal review of the 44 applications and scoring are now under way. The agency expects to announce which entities were approved for funding in November.

Under a three-week challenge process that runs through October 9, existing broadband providers can review project areas that are proposed for funding and determine whether they believe an area’s eligibility for the grant program should be challenged because adequate broadband service is already available in that area.

Visit http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/index.jsp for more details about the challenge process.

In the first round of Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funding that was announced in February, DEED awarded grants totaling $19.4 million to help 17 entities in Minnesota develop broadband infrastructure in their communities. The awards will help serve 6,095 households, 83 community institutions and 150 businesses in unserved or underserved regions of the state.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit http://mn.gov/deed or follow DEED on Twitter at twitter.com/mndeed.

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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