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UMVRDC Receives Blandin Foundation Broadband Grants

by Melissa on August 4th, 2016

Grand Rapids, Minn. (August 4, 2016) – Blandin Foundation announced today that it has awarded 13 grants totaling $132,670 that assist rural Minnesota communities in advancing high-speed Internet access and use in their communities.

The Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission will benefit from two grants to continue advocating for a connected network of IT professionals, united in creating a digital environment to market the high regional quality of life. The service area of Upper MN Valley RDC includes the counties of Big Stone, Swift, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle and Yellow Medicine. The support totals $22,600 and comes in the form of two grants: Rural Connect—Phase II and IT Connect Phase II.

“We are thrilled to continue our work with the support of the Blandin Foundation,” said Dawn Hegland, Executive Director at Upper MN Valley RDC. “Phase II of this project will allow us to work regionally to implement the common branding developed under Phase I.  The UMVRDC will continue to coordinate message development and online tools that will be shared and used by cities, counties, chambers and economic development groups throughout the region. These products will showcase positive messages and images of rural western Minnesota.”

The project will continue the promotion of “Quietly Beautiful” brand imagery and stories throughout the “Wildly Connected” region. The brand highlights the area’s high-tech fiber optic access where three of five counties have FTTH—or “fiber to the home”. Local community members will amplify material within their own networks. This is largely the work of individuals creating some proud moments and changing negative narratives about living rural.

Blandin Broadband Communities build on the success of the Demonstration Community component of the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) program, which was funded by federal grant dollars and administered by the foundation. According to the Intelligent Community Forum, successful advocacy provides the foundation for the community’s public identity in its outreach to the world. It energizes economic development, investment attraction and business generation, because the community has built a unique vision of its character and its future.

“Rural leaders know that connected communities are vibrant communities,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, President and CEO of Blandin Foundation. “We are delighted to see the progress that has come to the Upper Minnesota Valley Region and look forward to the opportunities this next phase will offer.”

Since making rural broadband use and access a focus in 2003, Blandin Foundation has partnered with leaders in more than 100 communities and organizations across the state to support sustainable broadband adoption to enhance quality of life and place.

About Blandin Foundation: Blandin Foundation works for vibrant rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all residents. Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota. Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives: Information about the Blandin Broadband Communities Program:

Media contacts:

Blandin Foundation

Allison Ahcan, Director of Communications

T: 218-327-8717

C: 218-259-2893

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Twitter @BlandinFound


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