Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz has announced that additional funding will keep the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program running strong into its sixth year. As the Fillmore County Journal reports, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will fund 39 projects in 2021 with grants totaling $20,645,425.
“As we look to promote economic recovery from the pandemic, these grants help ensure that every Minnesotan can participate in building back our state’s economy even stronger,” stated DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “We want to be a model state for innovation and having reliable, high-speed internet access is fundamental to that goal.”
“The pandemic this past year has made it crystal clear that fast, reliable broadband access is critical for people living in Greater Minnesota, for everything from education and health care to business operations and telecommuting,” Governor Walz noted. “These grants continue this vitally important work toward our goal of ensuring that every Minnesotan has high-speed internet access by 2022.”
The governor referred to Minnesota’s goal of extending broadband across the state by 2022. By 2026, the state wants all Minnesota homes and businesses to be served by at least one broadband provider, offering download speeds of at least 100 mbps and upload speeds of at least 20 mbps. The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program was designed to direct assistance to communities which would find it difficult to connect without a financial boost.
This year’s Border to Border grant recipients saw two main beneficiaries, AcenTek, poised to serve rural Peterson, and MidBroadband LLC, which will deliver broadband to the rural Preston area. AcenTek received a grant of $1,492,096 to deliver last mile connections to 347 households and businesses. An additional $3,481,558 will be provided locally. MidBroadband will use its funding to build an FTTP network to connect more that 250 locations in rural Fillmore County. It will receive an additional $2,197,042 through local funding.