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Pine County Seeks Community Involvement for Broadband Growth

From Pine County Economic Development Coordinator Lezlie Sauter:


"Pine County invites the public to attend our Blandin Broadband Community Vision meeting

where priorities will be determined and projects developed to improve internet access and

use.


Pine County was named one of six new Blandin Broadband Communities, a program that

provides planning, technical and financial support to communities that demonstrate the

determination to bring the benefits of a broadband-enabled economy to their communities.

These six communities will have access to a special grant fund, but projects will have to meet Blandin Foundation standards to be funded.


All interested community members can join a Zoom meeting at 10:30 am on Monday,

November 15 to help identify our community’s strengths and gaps, and again on Monday

November 22 to brainstorm project ideas and prioritize potential projects. Cross-sector and

collaborative efforts will be a priority. Once projects emerge, local non-profits, schools and

governments will have the opportunity to apply for up to $100,000 in total grant funding over two years.


The pandemic has shown us that access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet is no

longer a luxury. Pine County is currently ranked 86th out of 87 counties for having access to

wireline internet with speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. This is based on a report

generated by Connected Nation which showed that out of 11,373 households only 52% have

access to wireline service with those speeds. Speed tests conducted this spring however show that there are potentially more households unserved than this, because of the 990 fixed locations (not cell phones), only 21.6% had actual download speeds between 25 and 150 Mbps and cell phone speed test results were worse.


The Pine County Board has made improving broadband access and connectivity a high priority, and the community is needed for the Blandin Broadband Community program to be successful. RSVP by completing the pre-registration survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KDBLCR2 or call/text/email Lezlie at 320-591-0019 or lezlie.sauter@co.pine.mn.us to have it sent to you by November 12."



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