Requests for broadband funding nearly triple the amount available

The application period for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program closed Sept.15, and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) reported Wednesday that 44 entities submitted applications with funding requests totaling more than $29 million. The applicants are competing for just over $10 million in available funds. DEED will now review and score the applications, with plans to announce the grant awards in November.

If you are considering applying but missed the application deadline, entities may still submit an “expression of interest” for future funding until Oct. 1 at http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/bbinterest.jsp.

The GMNP and Coalition of Greater Minnesota cities were instrumental in advocating for the creation of the broadband fund. Greater Minnesota consistently lags behind the metro area in meeting Minnesota’s broadband goal, which was set in 2010 and is currently 100 times slower than states such as Connecticut and Hawaii. Although experts have cited an up to $3 billion need for high-speed broadband infrastructure in Minnesota, the state has only appropriated $29.4 million since the program’s inception in 2014. In the past two quarters, Minnesota continues to fall behind other states – going from 24th to 29th place in Akamai’s nationwide rank of states (“State of the Internet” report), which looks at access to broadband speeds equaling Minnesota’s speed goals.