MIRC is a story of alignment between opportunity and need. Funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) through the ARRA.
According to Akamai Technologies Inc.’s Fourth Quarter, 2012 State of the Internet Report, Minnesota is not in the top ten among US states in either average connection speed or adoption. But Jack Geller reports that rural Minnesota does lead rural America in adoption. … thanks, at least in part, to MIRC.For the purposes of the project, our goals were to:Support and encourage vibrant rural economies, through broadband adoption, as a strategy for job growth and wealth creation. AndAccelerate adoption by two percent over statistically anticipated growth (increasing broadband subscribers by 38,556 more than could otherwise be expected).In reality, our task was to help rural Minnesota communities keep up globally!
March 2010 – February 2013One of 44 sustainable adoption grants awardedFunded by a $4.8 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) through the ARRA.Leveraged $1.5 million in partner funds = $6.6 million total project budget Offered individuals training in computer literacy, online education, knowledge workforceProvided technical assistance and training to small businesses and entrepreneurs Distributed refurbished computers to low-income, rural MinnesotansEncouraged and support community-based approaches to broadband adoption and use
Work at the statewide level with concentrated effort in 11 demonstration communities…The DCs used the Intelligent Community Indicators to define and fund projects to address their community’s unique needs.
When it was said and done the communities had designed nearly 100 projects… Reference [HOLD UP] the Matrix for a complete listing and [HOLD UP] the Key Outcomes document and use examples on pages 3 & 4.
It was because of the community-based projects and the support of the statewide partners that MIRC accomplished or exceeded all the goals we set out to accomplish. Broadband adoption in participating communities grew close to 15% faster than in the rest of rural Minnesota.Communities that reported the highest rates of participation in MIRC activities also experienced the highest rates of broadband subscription growth.[HOLD UP] the Key Outcomes Document and invite your audience to go to page 5 for more detail.
Quote from community…
Quote from community…
I’ve picked four “Lessons Learned” to share with you today. The complete list is on page 8 in the Key Outcomes report.
Help local broadband champions get and use skills to frame issue, build and sustain relationships and mobilize people to build a community’s capacity to achieve its broadband goals.
Involve citizens directly in articulating their community’s broadband adoption and utilization goals to catalyze the long-term engagement needed to increase adoption.
It is a means to the higher ends of increased economic vitality and improved quality of life. Framing it this way helps.Connect the economic dots.Framing increased sustainable broadband use as a necessary but not sufficient ingredient in a “whole systems” approach to strengthen community vitality can help communities see and leverage the connection between the technology and benefits to community life.
This work takes time. Look for and celebrate early and easy “wins,” but think long term and build capacity and energy for the long haul. Money and other resources follow vision and commitment.
Since MIRC… Blandin’s commitment to rural broadband development continues The Blandin Foundation Board of Trustees committed $1.5 millionto continue to support broadband adoption efforts in rural Minnesota in 2013-2014.We are currently working with nine communities to continue building on the work!
Evidence abounds that high-speed Internet access has economic benefits (positive impact on median household income, employment, and business growth)
What? So What? Now What?
Gaining access to the
Internet is fast becoming a
participating in civic and
Help rural Minnesota communities keep up
MN Intelligent Rural Communities
• Train individuals
• Support small
• Distribute refurbished
computers to low-
• Encourage community-
based approaches to
adoption and use
Intelligent Community Framework
DCs take action
• Nearly 100 community-
• Projects addressed goals
identified by participating
MIRC set measurable goals.
All were accomplished
“Such evidence allows us
to conclude that
broadband literacy and
efforts can and do
make a difference.”
“This project has permanently changed the way
we think and the way we work together.”
Winona Area Chamber of Commerce
“I see, this is just the beginning:
the hard work is ahead of us.”
Cook County Resident
• Cook County resident
Implications for the Task Force
Access is key...
… and so is adoption.
Adoption is a Driver
of Economic Growth
Non-metro counties with high levels of broadband adoption in
2010 had significantly higher growth in median household
income between 2001 and 2010 compared to counties that
had similar characteristics in the 1990s but were not as
successful at adopting broadband.
Broadband's Contribution to Economic Health in Rural Areas: A Causal Analysis, B.
Whitacre, S. Strover, R. Gallardo, March 26, 2013
“While most government broadband policies
have traditionally focused exclusively on
providing infrastructure, there is a case to be
made for focusing on demand. ...Investments in
people, education and training are essential to
achieve meaningful use of the Internet.“
The Daily Yonder
For More Information
Blandin on Broadband blog
Blandin Broadband website