The Blandin Foundation recently announced the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy was selected to participate in the Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate Program.

The program will provide a 15-week course of study and education about broadband for a community team. The program consists of three parts — leadership education, information gathering and analysis and next steps. The project will also include community surveys and interviews with internet service providers. It is anticipated a final report from the team will be available by July 2021.

The Mille Lacs Tribal Economy encompasses the three districts of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe territory. The populations served by this program will include areas within the counties of Mille Lacs, Pine, and Aitkin; as well as the cities of Onamia, Wahkon, Isle, McGregor, Hinckley, and Sandstone. According to Minnesota Compass, there are 20,171 people who live in the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy who will be supported by this initiative and subsequent development of robust broadband infrastructure.

Blandin Foundation reported the ultimate vision is for all residents of the Mille Lacs Tribal Economy to be able to use “convenient, affordable world-class broadband networks that enable them to thrive in our communities and across the globe.”

The following community members volunteered for the program: Beth Gruber, director of organizational effectiveness, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures; Bill Hill, Onamia City Council member; Brittany Wind, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe grants director; Colin Cash, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe grants specialist; Dean Kapsner, Isle School District superintendent;

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Dustin Goslin, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures vice president of business and economic development; Joe Buttweiler, CTC director of business development; Keith Modglin, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe information technology; Mike Moilanen, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe community development; Percy Benjamin, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe executive director; and Scott Savage, sales manager with SCI Broadband.