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Broadband coming to Goodhue, Wanamingo

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High speed internet is important for sustaining local economies, say elected officials in St. Paul, and they're ready to get rural communities up to speed.

On Nov. 21, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith announced that $26 million will be invested in broadband improvement projects in greater Minnesota.

"It's not fair when almost 20 percent of greater Minnesota households don't have the same high-speed internet connections as their friends and family in the cities," Smith said in a statement released last week.

Two communities in Goodhue County will benefit from this funding: Wanamingo and Goodhue/White Rock. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Dvelopment estimates that these two projects will improve access for 619 unserved households, 164 unserved businesses and four unserved community institutions.

Gigabit speed internet service has been available in Red Wing since 2012, thanks to a public-private partnership between the city and HBC.

"We're very grateful that our city was forward thinking to implement broadband," said Red Wing Ignite Executive Director Neela Mollgaard. "It provides infrastructure to keep our community globally competitive as we progress."

Red Wing Ignite representatives were invited speak at the 2017 Minnesota Broadband Conference co-hosted by the Blandin Foundation and the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development last month to showcase the useful outcomes that broadband can have within a rural community.

Mollgaard explained to attendees how Red Wing's broadband access has allowed their nonprofit to help foster innovation and help support students, entrepreneurs and businesses.

"Red Wing has a lot to be proud of," said Dr. Kathleen Annette, president and CEO of the Blandin Foundation. "Local leaders are creating a broadband-enhanced future themselves when others wouldn't do it for them. Their vision will propel the community forward."

The Blandin Foundation estimates that the economic benefits of broadband in Red Wing will surpass the public's initial investment within one to six years. Blandin officials also foresee an economic benefit for Goodhue County of more than $18.6 million over 15 years if broadband access and use improved.

"In a world where everyone seems to have an iPhone and a Macbook, it's hard to imagine there are still places that can't even get high speed internet access," state Sen. Mike Goggin of Red Wing said in a statement released Nov. 22. "But unfortunately that is too often the case in greater Minnesota. We've prioritized funding the Border to Border Broadband program to continue expanding broadband service to the areas of the state that need it most. This funding will bring this crucial technology to a lot of families and businesses who desperately need it."

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