NRTC Members to Serve Nearly 22,000 Locations Through Minnesota Grants

Randy Sukow

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The State of Minnesota last week announced nearly $100 million in grants that will go toward filling in the remaining locations in the state that need high-speed internet service. NRTC telco and electric members are leading 36 of the 61 funded projects the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced for its Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program. NRTC helped two of the winners prepare the application for grants.

NRTC members will collect more than $67 million grants to reach nearly 22,000 unserved or underserved homes, businesses and farm sites. Under DEED rules, each award winner must provide matching funds to complete the investment in their projects. The state is using $42.6 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to partially fund this year’s Border-to-Border program. A complete list of grant winners appears on the DEED website.

East Central Energy (ECE), Braham, MN, applied for one of the largest sets of applications, with three projects to serve 7,304 locations using $14 million in grants.  NRTC assisted ECE with its application preparation. One project calls for the introduction or upgrading of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) service to at least 100 Mbps downstream/100 Mbps upstream in parts of Isanti, Pine and Kanabec Counties, located about 50-100 miles north of Minneapolis. Most locations, however, will have access to 1 Gbps downstream service, according to DEED’s description.

NRTC also assisted Meeker Cooperative Light & Power Association, based in Litchfield, MN. Its Vibrant Broadband already provides extensive fiber broadband service to Meeker, Kandiyohi, Wright, Stearns, McLeod, and Renville counties at several points west of the Twin Cities. With its set of five applications applications, it set out to cover some of its remaining hard-to-reach 351 locations, including 277 unserved.

NRTC helps members members construct and deliver high-quality broadband services in other ways. Fifteen of the 19 grant winners are clients of NRTC Managed Services. Five subscribe to NRTC’s CrowdFiber. A complete list of NRTC members winning grants from the 2022 Border-to-Border program includes:

NRTC MemberProjectsLocationsTotal Grants
Ace Telephone Association (AcenTek)1608$3,218,201
Albany Mutual Telephone1233$746,964
Arvig Enterprises Inc.64,625$8,746,983
Benton Cooperative Telephone Co.4923$2,631,240
Consolidated Telephone Co.11,804$4,857,030
East Central Energy37,304$14,153,000
Farmers Mutual Telephone Co.1636$4,728,186
Federated Telephone Cooperative1645$4,913,506
Garden Valley Technologies1105$1,462,569
Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Assn1300$1,212,338
Harmony Telephone Co.1112$1,129,740
Meeker Cooperative Light & Power Assn5351$327,516
Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative1250$1,231,818
Nuvera Communications, Inc.41,795$8,594,688
Paul Bunyan Communications11,035$3,052,120
Red River Rural Telephone Association1315$2,157,663
Runestone Telephone Association1406$2,493,637
Wikstrom Telephone Co.1150$665,699
Woodstock Telephone Co.1369$1,333,199
Totals3621,966$67,656,097

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