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MN Community Broadband Awards announced

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. (December 10, 2008) –Blandin Foundation and ADC Foundation, the charitable arm of ADC Telecommunications, have named recipients of the Minnesota Community Broadband Awards, which recognize communities at the forefront of broadband technology use.

The awards acknowledge communities, companies and community institutions that are successfully implementing strategies to improve deployment and use of broadband. Each will receive $2,000 to support additional technology promotion and development within their community. They were made during the “Connected Communities: Making the Net Work for Minnesota,” conference, co-sponsored by the two foundations and held Dec 3-4 at ADC Telecommunications in Eden Prairie, Minn.

“ADC Foundation is delighted to partner with Blandin Foundation in sponsorship of the Minnesota Community Broadband Awards,” said Bill Linder-Scholer, executive director of ADC Foundation. “We recognize that broadband is becoming the essential new infrastructure for communities in the new economy.”

“The Minnesota Community Broadband Awards recognize the efforts of communities large and small to harness the opportunities of high-speed broadband connections, to bring the full benefits of connectivity to their neighborhoods, towns and regions,” said Jim Hoolihan, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation, award co-sponsor.  “We hope that by celebrating these visionary communities we also inspire even more efforts and more success in more communities.  These awards recognize the importance of partnerships between public, private and non-profit organizations in launching and managing these new technologies.”

Awards were made in two categories.


Broadband infrastructure and services recognizes the provision of high-speed broadband capacity and services to a community, area or region.  Recipients are:

  • Federated Telephone Cooperative, Chokio,

By the end of 2008, Federated Telephone Cooperative will be the first rural telephone cooperative in the nation to provide fiber to the premise (FTTP) to all its members – more than 2,450 residents of south-central Minnesota. The co-op has been a leader in fiber-optic installation since the mid-1990s, when it was one of two field-trial sites in the nation for rural fiber-optic cable installation.

  • Sjoberg’s Inc., Thief River Falls, Minn.

Sjoberg’s has provided high-speed internet to small rural communities in northwestern Minnesota since 1998, and is currently deploying FTTP in areas surrounding Thief River Falls; with 87 percent of potential customers signing up for high-speed internet service.

  • Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Winona,

Hiawatha Broadband got its start in 1992, with the installation of a fiber-optic network to connect educational institutions within the city of Winona. Today, the company delivers voice, video and data services at competitive prices in the communities of Winona, St. Charles and Wabasha – an area  of 41,000 residents. Impacts include addition of four new industries, one of the first “laptop” universities, and increased use of videoconferencing and telecommuting.

Broadband market and application development recognize efforts to stimulate community demand for broadband services and/or to deploy advanced broadband applications in business, education, government and health care.


Recipients are:

  • Menagha and Sebeka,

These two communities – with a combined population of 1,930 – are raising awareness of the area’s fiber to the premise (FTTP) network. Efforts include creation of an internship opportunity for a high school senior to provide tech support to other community members, installation of high-speed internet in an assisted living facility, and identifying best locations for public internet access.


  • New Ulm Retail Development Corporation, New Ulm,

A broad coalition of community partners helped local retailers boost their online presence with web sites and online sales to better compete with big box stores. Training sessions, a new community-wide retail portal, and targeted communications in the newspaper and on the radio were key strategies.


  • Home and Community Options, Winona,

With more than 20 sites in Winona County that provide support and residential services for people with developmental disabilities, Home and Community Options sought to leverage the FTTP infrastructure available in their area. The company is currently implementing a plan to use video and data-transfer to enhance program support, client supervision, recordkeeping and business efficiencies. Key elements include an updated email system and video conferencing to connect to human services and medical facilities.


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