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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dave Baker (R)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WILLMAR, MN—Representative Dave Baker, R-Willmar, issued the following statement regarding today's announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that Kandiyohi County is one of the Greater Minnesota communities to receive state grants to expand broadband access.

According to a press release from DEED, Kandiyohi County is set to receive nearly $6 million between two projects (Consolidated Telecommunications and Frontier, Kandiyohi Initiative) to bring high speed internet to 2546 homes and 156 businesses; improving business development, health care and educational opportunities in the community.

“I’ve continually pushed for further broadband funding in Greater Minnesota, and am thrilled to see Kandiyohi County receiving funding for two expansion projects,” said Baker. “Folks in our area need high-speed connection to stay connected with the rest of the world, and these grants will go a long way in bringing broadband to thousands more residents.”

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.