Rural broadband to becoming a reality for central Minnesota residents thanks to nearly $10M (and counting) in public and private investments
STAPLES, Minn. – (11 September 2017) A multi-year, multi-million dollar project aimed at bringing high-speed internet access to all residents in Region 5 continues this year with broadband expansion and exploration into the rural areas of Todd and Wadena counties.
The project is a cooperative effort involving regional telecommunications companies Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) and West Central Telephone Association (WCTA), with assistance from the Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) and National Joint Powers Alliance® (NJPA).
Cheryal Lee Hills, Executive Director for R5DC states, “Since 2015, NJPA has made a combined total of $400,000 worth of investments to CTC, WCTA and others in the region for feasibility and engineering research. This generous investment helped us provide the data needed to secure and leverage $9.8 million through the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Office of Broadband and CTC/WCTA match infusion.”
WCTA’s project build-out areas for 2017-18 include approximately 200 residents and 68 miles of fiber in the rural Wadena County area, and approximately 145 residents and 63 miles of fiber in the northern Todd County area. Through funding, grant money, and company match 852 rural Region 5 residents have gained access to broadband. CTC and WCTA plan to work with R5DC to secure additional funding for future expansion into rural Todd County.
The benefits of bringing broadband to unserved and under-served regions are many: economic development, education, healthcare and telemedicine, workforce development, and more.
“The contributions to broadband deployment in Region 5 is a dedicated commitment to enhance the economics and lives of our rural area,” said CTC’s Chief Operating Officer Kristi Westbrock.
NJPA Director of Regional Programs Paul Drange says the organization views its support of the project as a strategic reinvestment in the region.
“Bringing broadband to Region 5 means providing all of our schools and students with access to excellent learning opportunities and opportunities for college and career readiness,” Drange said. “It’s also an essential tool for our small businesses and area entrepreneurs, which are important players in our communities.”
National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) is a government agency committed to providing cooperative solutions assisting governmental, educational, and nonprofit entities as they strive for efficient public service. Created in 1978 as one of Minnesota’s nine service cooperatives, NJPA offers a variety of cooperative programs and services for members on a local, regional, statewide, and national scale, including Canada. On behalf of its publicly elected Board of Directors, and public employee staff, NJPA is committed to meeting and exceeding the expectations of its members.
Consolidated Telephone Company CTC offers state-of-the-art technology to homes and businesses in Central Minnesota. With our fiber optic network, CTC can offer our members the TV, phone, and Internet along with business phone systems and services. CTC has a unique history and we invite you to learn more about our cooperative.
West Central Telephone Association (WCTA) is a full service telecom cooperative transforming rural communications with advanced fiber-to-the-premise technologies. Services to members include telephone, local and long distance, broadband Internet, TV, security and surveillance, personal emergency response systems, and smart home automation.
Region Five Development Commission is one of ten Regional Development Organizations in the state and is classified as a local unit of government. They serve the counties of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena and work with private, public and non-profit sectors specialize in lending, planning and project management in the areas of Economic Development, Community Development and Transportation.