ST. PAUL, MN—Representative Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, issued the following statement regarding the recent announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative was among the Greater Minnesota energy cooperatives to receive a state grant to expand broadband access.
According to a press release from DEED
, the $1.76 million grant will expand broadband infrastructure in Aitkin County and some surrounding areas, bringing broadband access to 763 households, and 2 unserved businesses, as well as improving business development, health care and educational opportunities in the community.
“I look forward to seeing a positive impact on education, business, and health care in our community due to improve broadband access” said Erickson. “I’m very pleased and excited to see such a substantial grant go to help our community.”
Thanks to GOP-led efforts, $32 million of the $35 million in grants were targeted toward unserved areas of the state—ensuring that broadband grants are going to the communities that need it most. Additionally, because of policy reforms to the program, the Minnesota State Broadband fund leveraged Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) federal broadband funding to amplify connectivity into rural areas of the state. In total, Minnesota is expected to see half a billion dollars in combined state and federal broadband funding between 2015 and 2021.
The legislature approved a total of $45 million in broadband grants during the 2015 and 2016 legislative session. When combined with federal CAF II funds, Minnesota will see more than $100 million in broadband expansion this year alone.