Sen. Utke secures funding for broadband projects in northwestern Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced recipients of the 2017 Border-to-Border Broadband grant program this past Tuesday, which included funding for two projects serving Hubbard and Mahnomen counties.

The projects will help serve residents, businesses, and community institutions across northwestern Minnesota, providing critical access to high-speed internet connectivity. Funding for all 39 projects was secured in this year’s Jobs and Economic Development Bill, which passed with the support Senator Paul Utke (R-Park Rapids) during the 2017 legislative session.

Paul Bunyan Communications and Garden Valley Telephone Company will receive a combined total of $2,107,041 for their broadband expansion projects, allowing them to serve 1,001 households, 59 underserved businesses, and 13 underserved community anchor institutions in the area.

“In today’s world, families and businesses are becoming increasingly more reliant on devices that require access to a quality broadband connection,” said Senator Utke. “On top of that, we’ve seen the role that broadband service plays in our health, our education, and as an economic driver for the region. With funding from the 2017 Border-to-Border Broadband grant program, we’re connecting more underserved areas in our state and moving our state one step closer to providing reliable access for all.”

Full project details can be found below:

Paul Bunyan Communications, North Central Fiber will receive $802,620 to serve unserved and underserved areas near the communities of Park Rapids, Bigfork, and Side Lake, which includes 787 underserved households, 42 unserved businesses, and 6 unserved community institutions. This project will improve the economic vitality of the region and bring advanced technology to areas that would likely not see state-of-the-art services without opportunities such as the Border-to-Border Broadband grant. The total eligible cost is $1,783,600, with a$980,980 local match.

Garden Valley Telephone Company will receive $1,304,421 for a project that will serve 214 unserved households, 17 unserved businesses, and 7 unserved community anchor institutions in Bejou and surrounding rural areas within Mahnomen County, including portions of the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. In a funding partnership with the State of Minnesota, Garden Valley Telephone will improve broadband service levels to 1 Gbps down and 1 Gbps up, exceeding the 2026 state speed goal. Bejou and White Earth leaders agree that the area is in desperate need of fast and reliable Internet service to help the area progress, especially as technology continues to advance around them. The total eligible cost is $2,608,842 with a $1,304,421 local match.