U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced that the Department of Commerce is awarding more than $16 million to multiple counties across Minnesota for broadband infrastructure projects that will improve high-speed internet access in underserved rural communities. Increased broadband internet access can expand the economic, health care, educational, and public safety services in rural communities.
"Decades ago, we made sure every American had access to electricity and to the telephone, and today it's critical we do the same for internet access," Klobuchar said. "High-speed internet connects rural schools and hospitals, protects public safety, facilitates the transport of vital services and resources, and lays the groundwork for long-term economic growth."
HickoryTech Corporation, through its Enventis subsidiary, will receive a $16.8 million grant. The funds will be used to construct a brand new 428-mile fiber network that would provide high speed middle-mile service and enable connections to anchor institutions and businesses in more than 20 counties across Minnesota. The project intends to expand distance learning and training opportunities throughout the state, while offering high-capacity services to community organizations.
The funds, which are provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will boost broadband services in the following counties: Becker, Blue Earth, Cass, Chisago, Clay, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dodge, Freeborn, Goodhue, Le Sueur, Morrison, Mower, Nobles, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Pine, Ramsey, Rice, Rock, Sherburne, St. Louis, Steele, Todd, Wabasha, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Watonwan and Winona.
Klobuchar serves on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has authority over telecommunications issues.