Everyone relies on the internet for school, business, government, recreation, healthcare, and more. This became even more evident over the last year with students in distance-learning and companies, large and small, that shifted their employees to working remotely—retirees even scheduled Zoom telemedicine appointments for the first time. If internet connections weren’t reliable 24/7, residents and businesses scrambled to find access.

This led those who live or work in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, or Wadena counties to confront whether their area lacked internet access or if it had the internet speeds they needed.

To discuss these questions and more, Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) is holding a virtual Zoom event about local broadband access from 7-8:30 p.m. on September 30. In person attendance is also available at one of five locations. The purpose of the event is to get organized as a region to secure federal funding for local, high-speed internet. All who live or work in the five-county area are invited.

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Zoom event: Local broadband access

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7-8:30 p.m. on September 30

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“We want residents in our five-county region to bring their stories about internet access, frustrations, and ideas to our broadband event,” said Cheryal Lee Hills, executive director of R5DC. “A key factor in improving access to regional broadband is finding out what the needs are and learning how people are managing—or not managing—to access the internet.”

Several regional broadband events will be held statewide, leading up to Blandin Foundation’s ‘Building on Broadband’ annual meeting in October that will focus on the need for reliable, high-speed internet across the state.

“American Recovery Act funds are available for broadband expansion in areas of our five-county region where high-speed internet is currently unavailable, but we need to be organized in order to access and utilize the funding,” said Hills. “Meeting together on September 30 and hearing the stories of others who have struggles accessing the internet is a good start. It will help to highlight the need for reliable high-speed internet for so many residents across our five-county area and beyond. It’s possible to improve regional broadband when we all work together.”

Join the broadband event via Zoom or in-person from 7-8:30 p.m. on September 30. A link will be emailed to those who register. The event is open to anyone interested in discussing current high-speed internet in their area and ways to expand it by accessing federal funding.

To attend the event, either virtually or in-person, register at: https://r5fiber.eventbrite.com. To attend in person, select one of these locations when you register: