Over $20.6 million awarded in broadband grants to Greater Minnesota communities

Over $20.6 million awarded in broadband grants to Greater Minnesota communities

KAAL-TV
Created: January 28, 2021 11:32 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Today, Governor Tim Walz announced that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will award grants totaling $20,645,425 to 39 projects in the sixth year of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program. State grant dollars are matched by $33,695,279 in local funds, for a total investment in broadband infrastructure of $54,340,704.

“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,” said Governor Walz. “These grants continue this vitally important work toward our goal of ensuring that every Minnesotan has high-speed internet access by 2022.”

“Connection is foundational for communities to thrive. These grants will go to help Minnesotans get critical access to broadband,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Now more than ever, we need to make sure Minnesotans have access to high-quality broadband to help our communities thrive, businesses survive, and students learn.”

The projects will bring high-quality broadband access to underserved and unserved areas of Minnesota, providing fast, reliable internet access for 6,922 businesses, homes, and community anchor institutions.

During the 2019 legislative session, the Governor signed into law a total of $40 million in one-time funds for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program in 2020 and 2021. Altogether, for FY21 funding, DEED received requests for $42 million in funding for 64 different applications during the latest grant application round.

The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program is primarily targeted towards communities in Greater Minnesota, where broadband infrastructure is not as likely to be at a level that is needed to support economic equity. A map of projects awarded grants in 2021 is posted on DEED’s website.

The State of Minnesota has set a goal for universal access and high-speed internet so that by no later than 2022, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of at least three megabits per second. And by no later than 2026, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.

This is the sixth year of the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program. The grants announced today bring the number of homes and businesses provided broadband access through the grant program since 2014 to a total of over 56,800.

The funding, which was approved during the 2019 legislative sessions, goes to broadband providers to build out wireline broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved locations across the state.

The following is a brief description of each of the grant projects in southeast Minnesota awarded this round:
 

AcenTek – Rural Peterson Exchange FTTH – GRANT $1,492,096

This last mile project will serve 214 unserved households, 18 unserved businesses, 88 unserved farms, and two unserved community anchor institutions as well as 47 underserved households and five underserved businesses in areas of Fillmore and Winona counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota and Fillmore County EDA, AcenTek will improve these 374 locations’ broadband levels up to 1 Gbps download and 100 Mbps upload, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. These investments will bring the benefits of high-speed broadband, increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for the people who live, work, and farm in the rural Peterson area.

Total eligible project cost is $4,973,654                     Local match is $3,481,558

BEVCOMM (Cannon Valley Telecom, Inc.) – Rural Morristown Fiber Expansion Project – GRANT $210,692

This last mile project will serve approximately 14 unserved and 94 underserved locations in portions of Rice, Waseca, and Steele counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota and Rice County Housing & Redevelopment Authority, BEVCOMM will improve broadband levels to 1 Gbps symmetrical, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. With access to broadband, education, health care, agriculture, energy efficiency, and public safety will improve within the project area.

Total eligible project cost is $526,729                        Local match is $316,037

KMTelecom – Rock Dell Northwest Fiber Build – GRANT $385,173

This last mile project will serve approximately 125 unserved locations in the rural Ashland and Vernon townships in Dodge County and Salem Township in Olmsted County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, KMTelecom will improve unserved levels to 1 Gbps up and 1 Gbps down, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals and enabling rural customers to have adequate online access to education, health care and work. This network will also allow the farming community to increase their productivity and have access to the latest farming technologies.

Total eligible project cost is $1,283,910                     Local match is $898,737

KMTelecom – Rock Dell Southwest Fiber Build – GRANT $404,709

This last mile project will serve approximately 96 unserved households, 70 farms and five unserved businesses in rural Vernon Township in Dodge County and Sargeant Township in Mower County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, KMTelecom will improve speeds to 1 Gbps up and 1 Gbps down, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. This network will bring broadband speeds that are now necessary for rural customers to have access to education, healthcare and work, as well as allow the farming community to increase their productivity and have access to the latest farming technologies.

Total eligible project cost is $1,349,031                     Local match is $944,322

MiBroadband, LLC – Rural Preston FTTP – GRANT $1,173,330

The Rural Preston fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) project will serve 231 unserved and 26 underserved locations in the rural portions of southern Fillmore County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, City of Preston and Fillmore County, MiBroadband will improve speeds to 1 Gbps down and 1 Gbps upload on a fiber network, exceeding the State’s 2022 and 2026 speed goals. Building a FTTP network will improve access to education and health care services. It will also increase employment as businesses leverage this new network and telecommuting opportunities become accessible.

Total eligible project cost is $3,370,372                     Local match is $2,197,042

Nuvera Communications, Inc. – Goodhue Welch FTTP – GRANT $340,790

This last mile project south of Welch will serve 100 unserved and 15 underserved locations in Goodhue County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Nuvera Communications, Inc. will bring broadband service levels to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the State’s 2022 and 2026 speed goals. This fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network will enable households, businesses and farms in the project area to utilize new technology and tools to grow and enhance their community.

Total eligible project cost is $973,686                        Local match is $632,896

Nuvera Communications, Inc. – Goodhue West FTTP – GRANT $532,232

This last mile project will serve 148 unserved and two underserved locations in Goodhue, Zumbrota, Minneola, and Belle Creek townships in Goodhue County and Chester Township in Wabasha County. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Nuvera Communications, Inc. will bring broadband service levels to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding the State’s 2022 and 2026 speed goals. The reliable, affordable, high quality broadband service will enable residents in the project area to have increased access to health care and education, and farms and business will have the technology to enhance their operations.

Total eligible project cost is $1,520,662                     Local match is $988,430

Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association – SE Faribault/W Freeborn County FTTP – GRANT $953,842

This last mile fiber optic project will bring service to 319 unserved locations, including 289 homes, 16 businesses, 11 farms, and three community anchor institutions in the townships of Clark, Foster, Kiester, Seely, Alden, Carlston, Manchester, Mansfield, and Pickerel Lake located in Southeastern Faribault and Western Freeborn counties. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Winnebago Cooperative Telephone Association (WCTA) will bring 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload service capabilities to this very rural part of southern Minnesota, exceeding the 2022 and 2026 state speed goals. As a result of this project, those served will have access to the broadband they need to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of business, employment, education, and social applications.

Total eligible project cost is $3,179,381                     Local match is $2,225,539


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