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Blandin Foundation grants to Austin Community Charitable Fund to conduct broadband feasibility study

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Blandin Foundation announced today that it has awarded four grants totaling $66,250 that assist rural Minnesota communities in advancing high-speed Internet access and use in their communities.

The Austin Community Charitable Fund will benefit from a grant up to $25,000 to study the feasibility of creating a broadband network in Austin. This project grew out of a community movement called Vision 2020. Out of thousands of ideas submitted by residents, one of the ten Vision Statements of Vision 2020 is: “Community Wide Technology: Provide every home, school and business with low cost, state-of-the-art technology including fiber optics and wireless internet throughout the City of Austin to increase economic prosperity, enhance education and heighten community safety.”

Vision 2020 will partner with a private firm to produce a plan that will advise the Community Wide Technology committee (a group of IT professionals, business owners and technology and communications experts) on what to build, how long it will take, how much it will cost and how to finance the capital costs.

“We are delighted that Austin’s local leaders are eager to imagine possibilities that can come with high-speed Internet,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of Blandin Foundation. “Hopeful leaders make ambitious choices, and Austin’s residents will benefit from this effort. We’re excited by this work, and the vibrancy it will potentially bring to the region.”

“Austin has a long-standing relationship with the Blandin Foundation and their work to strengthen rural communities. That makes it especially meaningful to be partnering with Blandin Foundation in the area of broadband,” says Laura Helle, Director of Vision Creation for Vision 2020. “We’re excited to launch a feasibility study to help bring the vision of community-wide broadband access into focus.”

Other grants awarded include:

  • $21,250 to the City of Annandale to conduct a broadband feasibility study;
  • $10,000 to the City of Watertown to create a WiFi hotspot in their Central Business District;
  • and $10,000 to the Institute For Local Self Reliance to produce a report that will document best practices and potential pitfalls, as well as project outcomes, for 13 different community case studies to serve as a guide for other rural communities interested in exploring their broadband options.



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