MiBroadband receives award totaling
$1.1 million for rural high-speed broadband
Grant will allow for fiber to unserved and underserved rural areas
of southern Fillmore County
Harmony, Minn. (9 a.m. Feb. 15, 2021) — Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced MiBroadband, LLC as a recipient of a Border-to-Border Grant totaling $1.1 million.
The grant program is a partnership between the State of Minnesota, City of Preston and Fillmore County.
MiBroadband will use the $1.1 million grant and $2.2 million local match to service 231 unserved and 26 underserved locations in the rural areas of southern Fillmore County. It will improve speeds to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload on a fiber network, exceeding the state’s 2022 and 2026 speed goals.
Jill Huffman, CEO of MiBroadband, says broadband service is more important than ever with distance learning, increases in individuals working from home and the advancements in technology surrounding agriculture, all of which increase the dependency on broadband to sustain rural economies. However, infrastructure costs continue to provide challenges to bringing service to rural areas.
“Without this grant, projects like this are not financially feasible due to the high cost of infrastructure per location served,” explains Huffman. “With lower population densities, providing this future-proof technology in rural areas becomes too costly of an investment without the partnership with the State of Minnesota, Fillmore County and the City of Preston.”
The co-op owned business was one of 39 recipients of DEED’s Border-to-Border Grant Program, which announced over $20.6 million in grants on January 28 during a virtual press conference.
Huffman says MiBroadband received over 100 letters of support for the project from households, businesses and farms who are within the geographical area of the fiber project.
The company plans to break ground mid-summer to late fall.
MiBroadband was formed in 2018 through a partnership of three local cooperatives: Mabel Cooperative Telephone Company, MiEnergy Cooperative and Spring Grove Communications. Just as these cooperatives individually brought electricity and telephone service to rural areas decades ago, through MiBroadband they have launched the next stage of critical service by providing fixed wireless and fiber broadband to rural homes, farms and businesses in southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.