The UMVRDC was recently informed that we were part of a successful $4.7 million federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant on behalf of rural Minnesota Communities that was submitted by the Blandin Foundation.
The project, Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) creates a coalition of state and county agencies, state colleges and universities, rural communities, and others. The stimulus funds will be used to help create technologically and economically vital rural communities that compete and thrive in the broadband economy, with sustainable broadband adoption, job growth, and wealth creation.
A significant gap exists between rural and urban adoption rates in Minnesota – in both business and home environments. This gap is compounded by rural demographic characteristics including an aging population, lower per capita income, and lower educational attainment. Given the importance of high bandwidth technologies and services and their effective use to economic competitiveness and quality of life, this gap is a critical challenge for the future vitality of Minnesota’s rural places.
MIRC strategies will draw on Intelligent Community Indicators (broadband connectivity, knowledge workforce, digital inclusion, innovation, and marketing and advocacy), and an array of market development approaches including education, training, technical assistance and barrier removal.
Funds will be used to:
- Enhance public access at workforce centers with access to training and online learning
- Deliver e-entrepreneurship/training and technical support to small businesses in critical industries for rural Minnesota
- Support community broadband initiatives in:
- Community planning
- Market development
- Application development
- Feasibility studies
- Support communities and critical institutions in the promotion and implementation of high-value broadband applications in health care, education, government and business.
For more information contact UMVRDC staff Dawn Hegland or Jacki Anderson at 320.289.1981