Regional Meetings on Broadband Grant Funding Continue

The meetings will provide an opportunity for cities and the public to learn more about available broadband funding and to provide feedback.
(Published Jul 28, 2014)

The Office of Broadband Development has been on tour this summer to provide education and gather feedback on the new Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program. Three more regional meetings will occur during the last two weeks of August.

The 2014 Legislature created the grant program and provided $20 million for it. The grant program is intended to provide financial assistance for the acquisition and installation of middle-mile and last-mile broadband infrastructure to areas of the state that do not have wireless access at federal and state minimum standard speeds. Cities are eligible to apply.

Remaining dates for Broadband Development’s grant program tour are as follows:

Aug. 19, 2-3:30 p.m.
Crookston
University of Minnesota at Crookston
Bede Ballroom A, B and C
Sargeant Student Center 2nd Floor
2900 University Ave., Crookston

Aug. 22, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Owatonna
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
525 Florence Ave., Owatonna

Aug. 26, 3-4:30 p.m.
Perham
Perham Area Public Library
225 2nd Ave. NE, Perham

Prepare to apply
Although the Broadband Development meetings will certainly provide a better understanding of how to apply for and receive grant funding, cities can start gathering information now and preparing to apply. Start by doing the following:

  • Verify locations/areas that are eligible (visit http://connectmn.org and click on “County Profiles” under the “Learn” tab).
  • Establish partners.
  • Design project, generate timeline, create budget.
  • Obtain financial commitments for matching dollars.
  • Gather community support.

If you are working to identify broadband availability for your project, any inquiries you have regarding the data shown on the broadband map can be submitted to Connect Minnesota for clarification. If your information differs from what current data shows, let Connect Minnesota know.

Finally, the League encourages all potential applicants or those interested in broadband development to subscribe to the Office of Broadband email list, which will be used to distribute information on the grant process as it develops.

Grant information available
The Blandin Foundation hosted a webinar featuring staff from the Office of Broadband Development on July 11, and provided a few details regarding the new grant program.

Allowable costs for grant funding include project planning, obtaining construction permits, purchase and/or construction of facilities, and installation and testing of equipment used to provide broadband service. Funds of approximately $20 million will be distributed in a single competitive grant round. Awards are capped at $5 million and at least a one-to-one match is required.

The application requires the following information:

  • A description of the area to be served by the proposed project.
  • Whether the project is middle-mile, last mile, or both.
  • The kind and amount of broadband infrastructure to be purchased.
  • Evidence regarding the unserved or underserved nature of the community.
  • The number of households passed that will have access to broadband as a result of the project.
  • Community institutions that will benefit from the proposed project.
  • Evidence of community support.
  • Total cost of project.
  • Sources of funding or in-kind contributions for the project that will supplement any grant award.

The application period will open in late September and remain open for 30 days. A six-week review process will follow. The Office is currently aiming to make awards in late December. Understanding the application requirements and planning for financing is critical when considering this timeframe.

Learn more about the grant program

Read the current issue of the Cities Bulletin

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