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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Poston (R)

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ST. PAUL, MN -- Representative John Poston (R-Lake Shore) issued the following statement regarding today's announcement from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) that Wadena and Otter Tail counties are 2 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 Wadena and Otter Tail County, 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.

“I am happy to hear that our area is receiving grants for broadband,” said Poston. “Increased access to broadband provides better economic and educational opportunities for not only the people, but for our local businesses as well, improving commerce in our community.”

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.