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Blandin Foundation grants to City of Watertown to create central business district WiFi hotspot

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 City of Watertown will benefit from a $10,000 matching grant to create a WiFi hotspot in their Central Business District. This project will allow the public to connect to the Internet free of charge while in Watertown’s downtown.

“Adding a WiFi hotspot in our central business district will attract visitors to our downtown and help our local businesses compete,” said Steve Washburn, Watertown City Council member. “The hotspot will expand youth educational opportunities by enabling them to connect to the Internet using one of the 2,000 iPads our school district, ISD 111, has issued as part of a 1:1 technology initiative. It will also enhance the experience of walkers, bikers, and equestrians that use the Luce Line State trail that runs through our downtown and along the Crow River.”

“We are delighted to see how Watertown area leaders came together to imagine the possibilities that can come with increased access to high-speed Internet,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of Blandin Foundation. “Hopeful leaders make ambitious choices, and Watertown residents will benefit from this effort. We’re excited by this work, and the vibrancy it will bring to the region.”

Other grants awarded include:

  • $21,250 to the City of Annandale to conduct a broadband feasibility study;
  • Up to $25,000 to the Austin Community Charitable Fund to conduct a broadband feasibility study;
  • 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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