UNDATED -- Governor Tim Walz Thursday announced that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will award over $20 million in grants to develop access to high-speed internet service throughout greater Minnesota.

This year, the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program will fund 39 projects, including several in central Minnesota. The state’s funds will be matched by over $33.5 million in local funds for a total of over $54 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, and will provide nearly 7,000 homes and businesses with high-speed internet access.

Central Minnesota grant recipients include:

-- Arvig (Tekstar Communications, Inc.) for portions of Todd County - $486,458
-- Benton Cooperative Telephone Company for multiple townships in Morrison County - $338,011
-- Meeker Cooperative Light & Power Association for Union Grove Township in Meeker County - $41,927
-- Sytek Communications for around 130 locations in Southwest Morrison, Southeastern Todd and Northeastern Stearns counties – $1,048,668

“The pandemic this past year has made it crystal clear that fast, reliable broadband access is critical for people living in Greater Minnesota – for everything from education and health care to business operations and telecommuting,” said Walz. “These grants continue this vitally important work toward our goal of ensuring that every Minnesotan has high-speed internet access by 2022.”

During the 2019 legislative session, Walz authorized $40 million in funds for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant program in 2020 and 2021. DEED received requests for $42 million in funding for 64 different applications during the latest grant application round.

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