The idea is that there is more strength in numbers.
Looking to put more “oomph” behind the cause, the city of Minnetrista took a step forward in its pursuit of better broadband access by asking neighboring cities that are similarly spotty in their Internet connections to commit to making a collaborative effort in seeking county and state aid for broadband expansion for their residents.
In passing its own resolution March 15, Minnetrista council members vowed to work alongside other cities’ councils “by seeking support from elected representatives that serve our communities at the county and state level of government for directing additional DEED grant dollars for our broadband needs.”
The resolution affirms that “communities like ours should not be over looked just because of our geographical location, as our communities are not that dissimilar from the overwhelming majority of rural and outstate communities that currently receive DEED grant funding from the Office of Broadband Development” and concludes that the city is a proponent of “collaborative efforts in seeking additional support and funding for broadband expansion grant opportunities.”
A draft of that same resolution was included alongside a letter that got sent to the cities of Orono, St. Bonifacius, Independence, Medina, Tonka Bay, Victoria and Greenfield.
Independence, Greenfield, western Medina and northwest Victoria share the Department Employment and Economic Development (DEED)’s designation of either “unserved” or “underserved” in broadband access according to a 2020 service provider map. DEED has labeled St. Boni and Tonka Bay, as well as most of Orono, as “served” communities.
So far, Minnetrista’s request has only come up in Tonka Bay, whose council discussed the resolution at its meeting March 23. Council members questioned how their own city was in need of better broadband access but also indicated they were curious to learn more about what collaboration from their city would look like if they signed onto the resolution.
That question is still unanswered and may be guided by response to the letter Minnetrista sent to its neighbors cities. Michael Barone, Minnetrista city administrator, told Laker Pioneer that right now it was matter of gauging interest.
“We are just starting out with this collaborative process, gauging interest. We certainly can add or subtract cities based on their level of interest,” he said. “Right now, nothing is being planned other than sending a letter, asking our elected representatives at both the County and State levels to understand our cities are not really getting many state grant dollars overall, when our situation isn’t all that different from the outstate cities.”
“We think most people don’t understand how truly bad our broadband coverage is in certain parts of our cities,” he added. “Just being in an outer ring suburb isn’t a guarantee for great broadband, and I would venture to guess not many people know that. That’s the impetus for this effort overall.”