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Image: Image for News Item: Rural coalition lands Tekne Award, recognition for broadband collaboration

Rural coalition lands Tekne Award, recognition for broadband collaboration

(Grand Rapids, Minn.) – Billed as the “Academy Awards for high tech,” rural Minnesota communities and partners received a Tekne Award in Minneapolis on Nov. 1 from the Minnesota High Tech Association for their work on broadband access and adoption.  Representatives of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) initiative collected the “Innovative Collaboration Award” in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Selection of Tekne finalists and winners was made by an independent panel of judges.  In choosing MIRC, an initiative convened by Blandin Foundation and involving 30 partners, judges noted that, “MIRC has benefited from a legacy of collaboration. MIRC partners are numerous and the impact the collaboration has had on broadband adoption is significant.”

All rural regions of Minnesota have engaged in broadband projects as part of the MIRC Initiative.  Individual communities initiated more than 70 locally designed and led demonstration projects, such as Lac Qui Parle County’s “Commuter Computer” (mobile learning lab) or Winona’s “Project FINE” (language-specific computer literacy training in Hmong and Spanish). 

Statewide MIRC partners provided training to more than 8,000 individuals, computers to more than 1,600 households and has resulted in more than 40,000 households in rural Minnesota subscribing to high-speed Internet.  The two-year initiative was funded through a $4.3 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant administered by Blandin Foundation and will be completed at the close of 2012.

“Resilient, vibrant communities are connected communities,” said Dr. Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation CEO.  “And the quality and diversity of those connections is a hallmark of a community’s leadership and sustainability.  Through MIRC, engaged local leaders and statewide partners worked together to bring the promises of broadband to many of Minnesota’s rural communities, including all residents in their progress.  Blandin Foundation is thrilled that this ambitious and innovative partnership has been honored through the Tekne Award.”

Presented by the MHTA, the Tekne Awards honor those who play a significant role in discovering new technologies that educate, improve lifestyles, and impact the lives and futures of people living in Minnesota and all over the world. The program reinforces Minnesota’s place as one of the most competitive and technologically advanced regions in the world. A full list of winners and finalists is available online at

“The Tekne Awards recognize those whose leadership and dedication to technological innovation helps demonstrate Minnesota as a global player in technology-based markets,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President & CEO of MHTA. “This year’s finalists should be extremely proud of their role in helping Minnesota excel.”


Note to editor: Corresponding video available at:


 More photos and background on MIRC available at:

About Blandin Foundation

Blandin Foundation stands with rural Minnesota communities as they imagine and claim ambitious, vibrant futures.  It is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota. Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives are at and broadband news at On Twitter at  


About Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA)

MHTA, or the Minnesota High Tech Association, is an innovation and technology association united in fueling Minnesota’s prosperity. MHTA helps bring together the people of Minnesota’s technology ecosystem and leads the charge in directing technology issues to Minnesota’s state capitol. MHTA is the only membership organization that represents Minnesota’s entire technology-based economy. Its members include organizations of every size − involved in virtually every aspect of technology creation, production, application and education in Minnesota. Find out more online at or follow MHTA on Twitter at


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