Sparks, DFL propose broadband investment

Published 3:41 pm Saturday, January 28, 2017

ST. PAUL — State Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin, is one of Minnesota’s Democratic legislators calling for a $100 million investment in broadband.

The lawmakers introduced a bill, which Sparks co-authored, that calls for $100 million to be deposited into the Border-to-Border Broadband Account to be given out in grants to projects across the state. Currently, about 22 percent of homes in Greater Minnesota lack internet connectivity at basic speeds, according to state Democrats.

The lawmakers argued broadband investment would spur economic development in Greater Minnesota.

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“If we want to support our small towns, and truly make a commitment to greater Minnesota, this is one way we can get there,” Sparks said in a press release. “In order for our students and businesses to compete, all of our residents need access to high-speed broadband. This level of investment can really push us to the next level.”

Mark Erickson, who represents Winthrop in the RS Fiber Project, called the broadband grant a critical investment in rural Minnesota.