Last week, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced it awarded more than $20 million through its Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program, according to a news release.

The 39 projects awarded throughout the state will be matched by nearly $34 million in local funds for a total investment of $54.3 million.

The funding, which was approved during the 2019 legislative sessions, goes to broadband providers to build out wireline broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved locations across the state. This round of funding will provide internet access to more than 6,900 businesses, homes and community institutions.

CTC, with offices in Brainerd and Baxter, was one of the grant recipients, receiving $350,805 in funding. This will be combined with $350,805 in matching funds from the company. When successfully completed, 180 unserved homes and businesses in Ross Lake Township in Crow Wing County will have internet access with speeds of up to 1 gig.

“It’s an honor to receive this award as it helps to further our mission of connecting more communities,” said Kristi Westbrock, CEO and general manager at CTC, in a news release. “We’re confident that better internet services will enhance the lives of everyone that lives, works and vacations in this area.”

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Once complete, the project will allow rural residents to work from home, safely stay in their homes longer and increase communication options for area businesses and residents all while boosting economic development to the area. Broadband will bring enhanced employment opportunities and educational experiences to the thousands of rural residents that call this area home.

Created in 2014, the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program provides state resources that help make the financial case for new and existing providers to invest in building broadband infrastructure into unserved and underserved areas of the state. Grants were awarded through a competitive application process.

More information about the program is available at https://bit.ly/2ZqAzww.