Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, on Friday encouraged qualified organizations to apply for Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant funding designed to expand internet access in unserved and underserved areas of rural Minnesota.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Office of Broadband Development will accept grant proposals until 4 p.m. Sept. 13. The Legislature provided $20 million during the 2019 session for this round of grant funding.
“We were again successful in funding the Border-to-Border broadband program during this budget cycle,” Lueck said in a news release. “This program leverages private-sector communications cooperatives and privately held communication companies’ ability to expand quality broadband service into more areas of rural Minnesota.
“This program provides local units of government the opportunity to provide assistance in meeting the communication needs of our rural residents. By partnering with a private sector communications company on a grant application, counties, townships and small cities can leverage a small investment with a much larger investment by the private sector and state broadband funding.”
By partnering with the private sector on a state grant application, Lueck said local units of government have the opportunity to make a difference without having to run their own complicated local grant program. The state Office of Broadband Development staff manages the grant program from start to finish, making sure the projects are fully completed and meet state guidelines.
DEED indicates priority consideration will be given to projects that leverage greater amounts of funding for a project from a combination of private and local public sources. Applicants must provide for the funding not covered by the grant with matching funds from any private and/or public sources. The maximum individual grant amount is $5 million and awards cannot exceed 50 percent of the eligible total project costs.
According to DEED, eligible applicants for this program are an incorporated business or partnership, a political subdivision, an Indian tribe, a Minnesota nonprofit organization organized under chapter 317A, a Minnesota cooperative association organized under chapter 308A or 308B, or a Minnesota limited liability corporation organized under chapter 322B for the purpose of expanding broadband access.