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SW Minn. region selected as Blandin Broadband Community

DULUTH -- Blandin Foundation announced Wednesday at its annual broadband conference in Duluth that the eight communities served by Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) were successful in their consortium's application to become a Blandin Broadband Community, one of only nine selected in the state. SMBS serves Jackson, Lakefield, Round Lake, Bingham Lake, Brewster, Wilder, Heron Lake and Okabena.

The Blandin Broadband Communities program is an intensive, two-year partnership between Blandin Foundation and selected rural Minnesota communities. The program provides planning and organizing support to regions that demonstrate readiness and resources to either bring robust broadband adoption to communities without it, or assist already connected communities to make best use of information and services broadband can deliver.

The consortium's efforts are being led by Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services and a leadership team including education, business and social service representatives. Located in a lightly populated region of Minnesota, participating communities have a long history of building technology solutions for its residents, including Windomnet.

Southwest Minnesota is one of nine rural Minnesota regions designated as Blandin Broadband Communities. Communities applied and were selected based on technology goals, current levels of broadband access and use, and ability to connect with other technical assistance and resources to meet their goals. Blandin Broadband Communities announced Wednesday were Fond du Lac, Itasca County, Kanabec County, Lake County, Southwest Minnesota, Lac qui Parle Valley, Mille Lacs County and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Next steps in the Blandin Broadband Community partnership include assessing the community's current broadband access and adoption, and in early 2013, a series of planning events.