State launches application process to fund broadband expansion

Awards of $95 million in broadband grants across the state will be made from a request for proposal proccess was opened June 2 by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Building on appropriations from both the 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions, this grant round contains the highest-ever amount of funding for the Border-to-Border Broadband Infrastructure grant program.

Funding from two sources — state and federal — can be used to reimburse for up to half the cost of the broadband infrastructure deployed.

Applications must be submitted by Aug. 4. Funding for a single project is capped at $5 million.

“This historic level of broadband funding will increase opportunities for Minnesotans across the state, said Gov. Tim Walz, “Now, more than ever, broadband is what connects Minnesotans to their education, jobs and the rest of the world.”

On the state funding side, in May Walz signed legislation appropriating $50 million — $25M in FY23 and $25M in FY24 — from the state’s general fund for broadband. This bolsters the state’s practice since 2014 of providing state funds to build out broadband service in areas of the state where it is challenging to do so.

For federal broadband funding, the remaining $70 million available for grant awards in this round is federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act Capital Projects Fund, administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

“High-speed, high-quality broadband is central to modern life – from schools to business to healthcare and beyond,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove.

He said the funding will go a long way toward connecting more than 240,000 homes and businesses that remain without access to the infrastructure of today’s economy.

Requirements and application materials for this competitive grant program are available on DEED’s website (mn.gov/deed).


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