Blandin Foundation announced today that it has selected five rural Minnesota communities for intensive, two-year partnerships with the Foundation to advance local broadband initiatives.
Otter Tail County, Chisago Lakes, Le Sueur County, Red Lake Nation, and White Earth Nation were all successful in their bids to become Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC).
“High-speed Internet access – and the skills to use it – is fundamental to vibrant rural communities,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation. “We’re excited to partner with these five communities to imagine new possibilities that come with enhanced Internet access and use.”
Communities were selected based on demonstrated commitment to work together across sectors to set and meet information technology goals and bridge digital divides.
Otter Tail County’s and White Earth Nation’s participation in the BBC program is supported with a $25,000 grant from West Central Initiative.
“Access to broadband is vital for communities. It supports economic development, quality health care, equitable education, and more. Broadband is no longer a want—it’s a need,” said Anna Wasescha, president of West Central Initiative. “We’re pleased to be part of this partnership that will bring essential infrastructure to our communities.”
Blandin Foundation staff and consultants will work with the five communities to provide planning, technical and financial support as diverse, local leadership teams design and drive digital technology initiatives that position their communities and every resident for greater success.
These five communities join 44 rural Minnesota communities that have gone through the BBC program.
“Our experience tells us that, especially in broadband work, leadership matters,” said Dr. Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation president and CEO. “We look forward to standing with this cohort of leaders in these five communities as they design and claim vibrant, connected futures.”
Next steps for each community include assessing the community’s current broadband access and use and holding a series of public planning meetings.