Region gets $15M for broadbandRock, Pipestone, Lyon and Nobles counties to benefit from grant WOODSTOCK — Rural residents of Rock, Pipestone, Lyon and a portion of Nobles counties will soon be able to access broadband service thanks to a $15 million grant and loan awarded Wednesday through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WOODSTOCK — Rural residents of Rock, Pipestone, Lyon and a portion of Nobles counties will soon be able to access broadband service thanks to a $15 million grant and loan awarded Wednesday through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Woodstock Telephone Co., which applied for the funds, will receive a $10.6 million grant and a $4.5 million loan in the latest round of recovery act funding, delivered through USDA Rural Development. The money will be used to expand the phone company’s fiber network and provide broadband service to more than 3,600 homes, businesses and facilities in 15 communities.
Cities included in the proposed service area include rural portions of Luverne, Adrian, Hardwick, Jasper, Hatfield, Pipestone, Marshall, Ghent, Minneota, Tracy and Russell.
A spokesperson from Woodstock Telephone Co. was unable to be reached for comment Wednesday.
“Broadband gives rural communities the tools necessary to create jobs, improve health care and create economic development opportunities,” said Colleen Landkammer, USDA Rural Development state director, in a press release issued Wednesday. “The Obama Administration recognizes that broadband technology helps build a platform for rural economic development well into the future and is committed to increasing broadband access throughout rural America.”
Woodstock was one of five Minnesota telephone cooperatives to be awarded funding on Wednesday. Others include cooperatives in rural Morris, the Pequot Lakes area, Lac qui Parle County, and six communities in Kittson, Marshall and Roseau counties. In all, more than $40 million in Recovery Act broadband funds was awarded.
Wednesday’s announcement brings the total amount of recovery act dollars for broadband to nearly $60 million.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has long been a proponent of expanding broadband to rural areas of the state, also issued a statement about the award.
“Decades ago, we made sure every American had access to electricity and to the telephone, and today it’s critical we do the same for Internet access,” Klobuchar said. “High-speed Internet connects rural schools and hospitals, protects public safety, facilitates the transport of vital services and resources and lays the groundwork for job creation and long-term economic growth.”