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Broadband grant application process to begin

Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, encourages qualified organizations to apply for Border to Border Broadband Development Grants during the upcoming application period.

Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, encourages qualified organizations to apply for Border to Border Broadband Development Grants during the upcoming application period.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development's Office of Broadband Development will be accepting grant proposals from July 3 until 4 p.m. Sept. 11.

"The Legislature provided another $20 million investment for the expansion of broadband infrastructure in rural Minnesota over the next two years," Lueck said in a news release. "This continues a state and federal effort to eliminate the broadband gap that puts much of rural Minnesota at a competitive disadvantage."

The recent injection of an additional $20 million was included in a jobs and energy finance package that was enacted into law last month. This is on top of the $45 million in broadband grants that were enacted during the 2015-16 legislative biennium. When combined with federal CAF II funds, Minnesota will see over $100 million in broadband expansion this year alone.

"This provides a great opportunity for our energy cooperatives, local internet providers and local units of government, to continue partnering to meet the needs of our rural residents," Lueck said. "With the recent implementation of the Aitkin County internet infrastructure grant program and last year's state broadband grant award of $1.8 million to a joint effort by the Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative and CTC of Baxter, we are making progress, but more work remains to be done."

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DEED is required by law to post the specific criteria and any quantitative weighting scheme or scoring system that will be used to evaluate or rank applications and award grants for this competitive grant program. That information and more regarding the DEED grants is available by searching for the keywords "broadband grant" at www.mn.gov/deed . Citizens also may call 651-259-7610 or email deed.broadband@state.mn.us for details.

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