A total of 16 funding requests for projects that promote the use of broadband technology were received from the Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift, and Yellow Medicine County region for the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) Program managed through the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission. The C. K. Blandin Foundation included this region in its MIRC Program that was funded though the US Department of Commerce’s NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.
Eligible projects were those that implement at least one of the following Intelligent Community elements:
- Broadband – ensuring wired and/or wireless broadband availability to the area
- Knowledge Workers – ensuring that area workers have the skills necessary for good jobs
- Digital Inclusion – ensuring that all sectors of the population have broadband access and necessary skills
- Innovation – providing new or more efficient government and business services
- Marketing/Advocacy – attracting investment and talent to the area
More information about Intelligent Communities can be found at www.intelligentcommunity.org.
Proposals came from a variety of entities including local units of government, school districts, non-profits and private businesses. The requests totaled over $250,000 for local projects that promoted the use of broadband technology. Funds have been awarded to six different projects in the region totaling $85,959.
Dawson-Boyd Schools – $25,000
With the coming availability of broadband technology in Lac qui Parle County, Dawson-Boyd Schools would like to connect businesses, community members, and students to produce a digitally literate community. We will achieve this by creating a Multimedia Collaboration Center, a Student Tech Team, and a hybrid (online and classroom) Teacher/Community Training Academy.
Lac qui Parle County Economic Development Authority – $25,000
The goal of the LqP Computer Commuter is to increase the digital literacy of area residents and businesses, advance our knowledge workers, promote broadband availability and digital inclusion with an innovative project offering a mobile computer lab environment open to the general public at no charge.
Big Stone County Public Internet Project – $6,554
The goal of Big Stone County’s public internet access project is to provide more convenient access to government information and resources to the public. Enabling the public to access these forms, county highway project status, and GIS information online not only increases public awareness, but also gives the public a feeling of more control in their schedule and connection to our county government. By encouraging the public to find forms online, directing them to a highway project online, or pointing them to the GIS web site, we will be increasing awareness of government resources online, thus increasing public use of broadband. Having a kiosk within the courthouse will allow department workers to train county residents how to use the web site to find information, which will encourage residents to use the website from home in the future.
Ortonville Public Schools/Ortonville Economic Development Authority – $10,000
This project’s goals are to increase internet usage by giving our businesses an understanding of how it can be used and the benefits it provides; increase internet usage by locals as more discover the information that they are able to obtain; create a viable economic community and a school system that uses technology to reflect the times we live in; and involve our youth in the community’s development encouraging them to return as adults and become active members in our community.
Johnson Memorial Health Services, Dawson – $15,000
Home Stream demonstration project – Demonstrate the potential for using broadband‐based remote support tools and enhanced family engagement to define appropriate visits/hospitalizations and to achieve increased medication adherence for better health outcomes.
Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission – $4,405
This project will assist the cities of Bellingham and Echo in creating community websites.
For more information about the MIRC project, contact Dawn Hegland, UMVRDC Executive Director at 320-289-1981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.