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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Franson (R)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ST. PAUL, MN -- Representative Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) issued the following statement regarding today's announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that Otter Tail, Wadena, and Douglas counties are 3 of the counties in greater Minnesota to receive a state grant to expand broadband access.

According to a press release from DEED, the $718,850 grant will expand broadband infrastructure in Otter Tail and Wadena counties, providing access to 174 unserved households, 13 unserved businesses and 2 community anchor institutions. The total eligible project cost is $1.5 million with a $778,755 local match. Additionally, the grant for Douglas County provides access for 28 unserved households and 7 unserved businesses in the Lake Louise area. The total eligible project cost is $153,348 with an $85,108 local match.

“Receiving these grants for increased broadband access is essential for our area’s future prosperity,” said Franson. “Greater access to broadband provides for better economic opportunities for our businesses and our workers, as well as outlets for students to do additional learning.”

Thanks to Republican-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.


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