Cool Things Rural Communities are doing with Broadband


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Keynote from 2014 Broadband Communities Summit in Austin TX

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Cool Things Rural Communities are doing with Broadband

  1. 1. Cool Things Rural Communities Are Doing With Broadband The Minnesota Experience
  2. 2. Community Technology Advisors Combining Knowledge in Broadband and Economic Development Since Dial-Up
  3. 3. Rural Broadband Initiatives By providing leadership development, technical assistance and funding, Blandin Foundation has helped rural communities launch almost 200 broadband-oriented projects over the past four years.
  4. 4. This is RURAL! From NW to SE, MN is 500+ miles Our “communities” include: Cities Counties Regions Tribal governments Our largest city has 20,000 people. Our most rural counties have around 4,000 people.
  5. 5. Blandin Foundation Strategy Targeted Communities  Select engaged communities  Organizational development  Strategic planning  Project development  Funding  Coaching Broadband Grant Programs  Robust Network Feasibility Fund  LightSpeed  Digital Inclusion Community Partnership  Broadband Innovation
  6. 6. Intelligent Community Indicators
  7. 7.  Community selection process as organizing tool  Steering team formation and support  Cross-sector community meeting  Intelligent community benchmarking  Assets/gap analysis  Outcomes  Project development and prioritization  Funding Planning Process
  8. 8. Improving Broadband Networks Community organizing, feasibility studies, partnering and financing Broadband
  9. 9. Success Stories Networks  Built  Cook County FTTH  LqP County FTTH  SMBS FTTH  Cloquet Valley Wireless  In Process  RS Fiber  Todd County  Redwood County  Kanabec County Critical Elements  Commonalities  Leadership support  Community organizing  Feasibility studies  Differences  Network owners  Technologies  Financing
  10. 10. Cook County ARRA grant to Arrowhead Electric Association as new provider Direct county grant from county economic development sales tax Result of long–term effort on Internet –- from dial-up to fiber
  11. 11. Lac qui Parle County ARRA grant to Farmers Mutual Telephone Direct loan/grant from County EDA plus shortfall guarantee Opportunistic initiative rewarded by stimulus
  12. 12. Eight communities in joint venture ARRA funding Partnering with an existing muni to deliver triple play over FTTH Southwest MN Broadband Services
  13. 13. Newly formed Initiative led by the area farmers’ co- 0p To be supported by private and public financing backed by area cities and townships FTTH to the Farm
  14. 14. Cloquet Valley Internet Initiative Nine sparsely settled townships Challenging terrains with woods & hills Partnership with Cooperative Power and Light, the electric co-op 700 Mhz wireless technology 15 mile range 7 Mbps
  15. 15. Growing a Knowledge Workforce Creating, supporting and recruiting talent Knowledge Workforce
  16. 16. Alternative Approaches  Cook County Higher Education  “The Education You Need Where You Live”  Programs  Local  Online independent  Group learning  Mentors, financial aid resources and more  90% completion rate for online courses
  17. 17.  Encouragement of telework by:  Partnering with local telecom to provide bandwidth and tech support  Marketing the community workforce to metro businesses  Providing job postings and local resources  Creation of telework hotel  Convinced State of MN to include a telework location category  Recognized by NTCA as Smart Rural Community for their telework initiative
  18. 18.  Courses  Local  Videoconferencing  Targeting to new Americans and older adults  Open lab with assistance available  Videoconferencing rental available
  19. 19. Innovation Spurring Innovation New companies, new processes, new products
  20. 20. A three pronged approach to spurring innovation and increasing broadband utilization in Itasca County • Business technology assessments, strategy development and implementation via financing  Social Media Breakfasts  IT Pros Networking Brown Bag Lunches
  21. 21. Facilitating collaboration among area volunteer fire departments to improve and share training resources  Install videoconferencing capabilities in ten fire halls across five counties  Coordinate training offerings led by regional center community fire department  Enable streaming of past events for 24x7 viewing by new and current firefighters
  22. 22. Southwestern Minnesota Adult Mental Health Consortium  Bringing desktop and mobile videoconferencing to coordinate and share mental health resources across 22 rural counties.  Care team coordination  Staff meetings  Direct care
  23. 23. Addressing Digital Inclusion Providing a computing device, training and connectivity Digital Inclusion
  24. 24. Turning trash to treasure for thousands of low-income families in Minnesota and now expanding into other states Partnerships with: • schools and non-profits to target eligible people • government and business to source computers • ISPs for discounted Internet service  Collected, refurbished and distributed over 7,000 computers in 2013, about half in rural communities  Set up local affiliate offices in three rural Minnesota locations, plus one additional independent project  With a mobile refurbishing lab, they collect, refurbish and distribute 100 computers in three days
  25. 25. Providing digital literacy training, computers and connectivity to new Americans Partners with • PCs for People • Winona State University • St. Mary’s University of Minnesota • Hiawatha Broadband Communications
  26. 26. Marketing and Advocacy Creating a tech savvy image for your community – to attract talent and investment Advocacy
  27. 27. Marketing/Advocacy Strategies  External marketing  Fergus Falls as Teleworking Capitol  60/90 Tech Corridor as fiber- rich agriculture and manufacturing region  Mobile sites  Cook County CVB  Google Place business initiatives  Internal marketing  “What’s up in Foley?”  “Finding Windom”  Public policy  Blandin events  18 Legislative rural listening sessions
  28. 28. Findings These elements are mutually reinforcing and bring together diverse stakeholders Multiple small activities have more impact than one big activity Cross-sector activities have the largest benefits When in doubt as to “what to do”, just do something!
  29. 29. Bill Coleman Community Technology Advisors 651-491-2551 Discussion Resources: