Representative Tim Miller of Prinsburg askes What is the future of broadband in the State of Minnesota? Miller says it is one of the top questions he has heard from residents since the end of the 2015 session, and he expects broadband to be a top priority in 2016. Miller says "When you think of ways to enhance economic development in Greater Minnesota, reliable broadband technology ranks near the top of the list. Most people recognize that what was dedicated to broadband last year isn't enough to meet our needs, and both Republicans and Democrats understand that we need to revisit this topic again next session." Two weeks ago House Democrats held a broadband round table in Willmar, and last week U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar did the same. Willmar Planning and Development Director Bruce Peterson says he told Klobuchar Willmar needs better, faster broadband as they develop the new industrial park...

...Peterson says much of the City of Willmar has good broadband but not so much in the surrounding areas. Miller says he had few opportunities to vote for broadband this past session. He says he supported legislation during a Minnesota House Greater Minnesota Economic and Workforce Development Policy Committee hearing that allocated $50 million to broadband, and also voted for the new law that ultimately allocated $10.58 million to Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. Miller said that grant money is now available for distribution, and encourages cities, counties, businesses, non-profits, and other eligible applicants to consider applying before the September 15 deadline. Full details and application materials can be found on the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development website at

Miller said he recently signed a letter of support for a local company that provides broadband service to 6,000 rural residents in hopes of helping it secure some of the grant funds. If successful, the funding would be used to enhance service levels within its current wireless coverage areas.