For her consistent and positive work in promoting broadband access and use as a Blandin partner in Benton and Chisago Counties and for her generous leadership of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition working to ensure broadband access for all Minnesotans.
- Executive Director at Chisago County HRA-EDA since 2012.
- Led the Broadband Team in the Chisago Lakes Area’s efforts in the America’s Best Communities program, contributing to their finalist status in the nationwide competition.
- Key facilitator of successful Chisago County township broadband projects by providing critical logistical and financial support.
- Founding chair of the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition.
Why is it important that rural Minnesotans have broadband access?
Today, broadband is an essential infrastructure for a vital economy. Without broadband rural areas are unable to attract business, there is a lack of direct access healthcare and travel is required, students cannot access course assignments, residents are required to commute to work as they are less likely to work from home or start a home-based business. Lack of broadband discourages growth as people will no longer live where fast, reliable Internet is not available.
What do you see as your biggest broadband victory?
Assisting to bring Fiber-to-the-Home in Sunrise Township. Sunrise was the pilot project to figure out how to fund broadband infrastructure in Chisago County. This opened the doors to other townships in Chisago County and around the state for partnering with the telephone companies. With the Border to Border Broadband grants we figured out how to pay for the infrastructure. Since Sunrise, one more township now has fiber to the home and three other townships plan to apply for Border to Border Broadband grants this year and two other townships next year.
What role did local leadership play in your accomplishments?
Local leaders come in many forms from the county commissioners, township supervisors, to the local residents. In Chisago County townships, it really is the local resident advocates desiring fast, reliable Internet that encouraged the township supervisors to move forward with seeking funding to bring Fiber to the Home that are the leaders. It also takes the township supervisors to respond to the local residents to take action to move forward with funding broadband.
What words of encouragement would you give to community leaders working to improve broadband access?
It seems just a few years ago, cities in Minnesota were struggling for fast, reliable Internet. Today, for the most part, cities are being served. Now our legislators, local officials, and residents have an understanding of the importance for broadband from border to border in Minnesota. Great strides have been made and the momentum is there to finish the job.