New DEED commissioner on Greater Minnesota’s economy and implementing ‘massive’ new spending

Matt Varilek is fortunate as the new Commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to have internet that is fast enough for him to have remote meetings at home in rural Benton County (MN). But not everyone in Greater Minnesota has that ability, which is why delivering broadband across the state is a passion of his.

Why Minnesota is unlikely to meet its broadband expansion goals on time, despite influx of federal cash

During a stop in Minnesota in June 2023, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo made a promise: The $652 million earmarked for Minnesota to help build infrastructure for rural high-speed internet would be enough to finally cover every part of the state. Is that true? It depends, it turns out, on how you define a finished job. When calculating who has access to proper broadband, the federal government counts much slower internet speeds compared to Minnesota’s definition.

Minnesota officials estimate $650 million in broadband funding to come from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Minnesota is poised for an unprecedented windfall of money to help build high-speed internet in rural areas; estimating $550 million in extra cash. This will bring Minnesota up to $650 million for broadband from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The final amount Minnesota will get won’t be known until later, and it’s dependent on maps of areas without access to broadband that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to update. In addition, Minnesota must submit a plan for how it would use the money over a five-year period.

Minnesota telecom companies are seeking to block a controversial broadband developer from using $311 million in federal grants

The controversial telecom company LTD Broadband has long been criticized by those who argue it can’t deliver high-speed internet to Minnesotans as promised using an unprecedented $311 million in grants from the federal government.

‘We have work to do’: What to know about the state of Minnesota’s high-speed internet infrastructure

The last two years have been pivotal ones for the future of high-speed internet access in Minnesota. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and exacerbated the lack of broadband in many parts of the state as people shifted to remote work and school. Congress poured unprecedented amounts of money into subsidizing construction of new infrastructure like fiber-optic cables in Minnesota and across the country.

Waiting on the US House to bridge the digital divide

To secure a future of prosperity for America’s rural communities, we need to completely bridge the digital divide and ensure every American has access to the digital technologies that support success in our modern world. Substantial positive investments toward achieving the national goal of bridging the digital divide through broadband deployment, financial support for broadband service and digital skills training are included in the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act recently passed by the US Senate.

Minnesota lawmakers agree to spend $70 million on improving broadband access

In response to the lack of adequate broadband in parts of the Minnesota, especially rural areas, legislators agreed to spend $70 million on a state grant program that aims to build high-speed internet infrastructure across the state.