Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3.4 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to support broadband expansion in Northeast Minnesota.
The pandemic shed light on the vital importance of broadband. This grant will allow Northeast Service Cooperative to meet the region’s explosive demand for broadband connectivity to boost businesses, provide new opportunities and diversify the region’s economy. The project developed by the Northeast Service Cooperative, Mountain Iron, Minnesota, will construct more than 100 miles of middle-mile broadband fiber to expand the network to serve remote and underserved areas throughout the vast geography of six counties of Northeast Minnesota. This EDA grant, to be matched with $835,000 in local funds, is expected to generate $20 million in private investment.
“Expanding broadband access to all pockets of the country is key to recovering from this pandemic and building back stronger,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment in Northeast Minnesota will bring reliable broadband to businesses, educational institutions, medical services, and the residents that need it most.”
“The Economic Development Administration is committed to an equitable recover, where we not only reset but build back better.” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “The pandemic showed us that access to broadband is necessary for the economy, health and education of communities. EDA is excited to support this community-led broadband effort to ensure that Minnesotans have access to the service they need to work, learn and play.”
“In 2021, we should be able to bring high-speed internet to every community – but today, tens of millions of Americans do not have access to broadband, including approximately 144,000 households in rural Minnesota,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “This federal funding will make a big difference by connecting people in Northeast Minnesota to work, school, health care, and business opportunities. As a leader in the fight to strengthen our nation’s broadband infrastructure, I’ll keep working to ensure Minnesotans have the resources they need to thrive.”
“I’m glad to see this investment in Northeast Minnesota,” said Senator Tina Smith. “Broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st Century and if we’re going to build an economy that works for everyone, then we need to prioritize deploying high-speed internet to all Americans – just like we did with rural electrification and the interstate highway system. The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted how important access to high-speed, affordable, and reliable internet access, and this CARES Act grant will ensure the people of Northeastern Minnesota can get connected and stay connected.”
This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136 PDF), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) (PDF) program, provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.