$100 Million Broadband Initiative Unveiled at the Capitol

The proposal would set up a matching grant program to assist communities, providers, and rural cooperatives install broadband infrastructure.
(Published Mar 3, 2014)

SF 2056, introduced by Sen. Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing) on Feb. 27, would create a $100 million statewide broadband infrastructure fund.

The fund, dubbed the Border-to-Border Broadband Fund, would be distributed through a matching grant program by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Its purpose is to assist cities, providers, and cooperatives in unserved or underserved areas install broadband infrastructure to provide a high-speed Internet connection to residents and businesses. The appropriation to DEED is one-time funding.

In light of the budget surplus news in the February 2014 Budget and Economic Forecast released Feb. 28, advocates for broadband infrastructure development believe the 2014 legislative session provides an opportunity to help the state achieve its state broadband goals that were established by the Legislature in 2010. The Governor’s Broadband Task Force says Minnesota is not on track to meet speed and access goals by 2015.

The League continues to monitor the bill, as it aligns with the legislative priority LE: 16: State Broadband Policy in the LMC 2014 City Policies (pdf). The policies call for implementing actions to achieve the goal of statewide deployment of advanced broadband networks and encourage public-private collaboration to achieve the state goals.

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