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ECE awarded nearly $15 million in grants

On December 8, 2022, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced that we have been awarded three Minnesota Border-to-Border Broadband Development grants totaling nearly $15 million. The funds are specifically meant for broadband efforts in northern Isanti county, central Kanabec county, and southern Pine county (see map for details).

“This is a historic moment for ECE and the communities we serve,” shared VP/CIO Ty Houglum. “It speaks to the incredible efforts of our employees and the forward-thinking approach of our board of directors.”

The news comes just over a month after we officially decided to enter the broadband business. We serve some of the most impoverished counties in Minnesota, including Kanabec and Pine, which also rank lowest in internet coverage. As access to online services becomes more critical than ever, we have set our sights on fiber broadband as a central component to spur growth and economic development across our 14-county service area.

“We envision a future where everyone has equitable access to broadband,” Ty emphasized. “The digital divide between those with internet and those without has resulted in a lack of opportunities for our membership. A high-quality fiber connection will deliver major services such as telework, telemedicine, and online schooling.”

We plan to begin construction within specific areas of Isanti, Kanabec, and Pine counties in 2023 to meet the grant requirement of project completion by June 2025. 

“Our staff is excited to put this funding to good use,” Ty said. “We are still solidifying the timeline and will have more information on our website as plans take shape.”

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