DEED opens new $50 million broadband expansion grant round

Published 12:10 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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One week after funding 24 projects to expand broadband infrastructure in Minnesota, the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Tuesday announced it is accepting applications for another $50 million in broadband development grants.

“As a resident of Greater Minnesota, I know how important broadband is to our businesses, families and communities — and how difficult it is when internet is neither high-speed nor reliable,” said DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek. “The State of Minnesota and our partners continue to methodically expand broadband service everywhere, and our new $50 million grant round will benefit thousands of Minnesotans who don’t have service.”

This grant round is the 10th time DEED has released funding through the Border-to-Border Broadband Program. Bree Maki, executive director of DEED’s Office of Broadband Development (OBD), announced the new grant round at a conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of OBD on Tuesday.

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Since its creation in 2014, OBD’s flagship Border-to-Border Grant Program and Low Population Density Grant Program have awarded nearly $350 million in grants to expand service to more than 112,000 homes and businesses statewide.

“Today we’re marking 10 grant rounds in 10 years and celebrating the Minnesotans who have access to high-speed broadband service thanks to these grant programs,” Maki said. “We’re grateful to our partners across Minnesota who have helped us build one of the county’s most expansive broadband networks, and who are committed to helping us get broadband to everyone who still needs it.”

Today’s grant round includes $30 million for the Border-to-Border program, through which broadband provider grantees are reimbursed for up to half the eligible cost of deploying broadband infrastructure, with funding for a single project capped at $10 million.

Another $20 million will be for the Low Population Density program, which offers grants to providers building broadband service to areas of Minnesota with particularly low population densities and high broadband deployment costs. Grants can be worth up to $10 million and cover up to 75% the total cost of a project.

All projects must offer speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload.

Requirements and application materials for this competitive grant program are available on DEED’s website. A webinar for interested applicants will be held on Thursday, March 21 at 11 a.m.