A grant for $4.7 million is headed to Minnesota to help improve broadband opportunities in rural areas.
The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant comes through the Commerce Department to the Blandin Foundation and its partners. Officials hope this will help erase the 20 percent gap between rural and urban home broadband adoption rates.
Proposed projects will cost more than $6 million, so Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities coalition members will match the grant with $1.3 million.
The money will be used to extend small-business technical assistance and training, expand hours for access to workforce centers, distribute refurbished computers, train individuals and business, create courses for knowledge workers and bring to Minnesota an online network of care for mental health workers.
Up to $100,000 will go to each of 11 demonstration areas: Benton County, Cook County, Grand Rapids/Itasca County, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Stevens County, Upper Minnesota Valley region, Thief River Falls, Willmar/Kandiyohi County, Winona, Windom and Worthington.