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Blandin Foundation Vice President Wade Fauth at DEED Economic Competitiveness Summit

Invest in people. That was the pervasive message at yesterday’s Economic Competitiveness Summit held by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. As the number of retirement-ready folks climbs, Minnesota’s workforce will struggle to replenish itself if we’re not investing in the skills and knowledge of our young people.

At the Summit, Blandin Foundation had the opportunity to shed light on how broadband technology is the key to ensuring that all Minnesotans, young and old, have access to the resources they need to be successful now and in the future.

In his opening remarks, Blandin Foundation Vice President Wade Fauth explained how rural communities need both broadband access, and the ability to use it, in order to thrive — and even survive –in an ever more globalized world.

“Our long standing mission has been to strengthen rural Minnesota communities. We have the privilege of doing this work today because of an investment that the community of Grand Rapids made 110 years ago in a piece of indispensable infrastructure. In 1902, the community harnessed the power of the rapids on the Mississippi River by building a dam that powered a paper mill that built our community and organization.

The Foundation has not forgotten its roots. Part of what we do today is to identify and invest in the next generations of indispensable infrastructure. We believe that broadband is the indispensable infrastructure of the 21st century.”

Mirroring the conference theme, he continued

“From our deep experience with communities, we see that capitalizing on the promise of the Internet is as much about investing in human capacity as it is about investing in technological capacity. We’ve seen over and over how well-leveraged investment in broadband access and use can breathe vibrancy into communities and local economies.”

He ended by extending a hand, inviting others — both public and private — to engage in the work that will support concerted, community-based efforts to ensure all citizens are able to take advantage of the Internet.

“This is only possible through partnership — all sorts of partnerships. If we want to meet the expectations and opportunities of all Minnesotans, it will take coordinated investment of resources by all of us. The work of bringing the promise of the Internet to all Minnesotans clearly is not done.”

Read how rural Minnesota communities are using the power of broadband to spur economic growth in their region. For more about Blandin Foundation’s broadband work, click here.

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