Grant will allow for fiber to unserved and underserved rural areas of southern Fillmore County in Minnesota
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced MiBroadband, LLC as a recipient of a Border-to-Border Grant totaling $1.1 million.
MiEnergy Cooperative, an electric distribution cooperative serving southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa, is an owner of MiBroadband along with two telephone cooperatives, Mabel Cooperative Telephone Company and Spring Grove Communications.
The grant program is a partnership between the State of Minnesota, City of Preston and Fillmore County.
MiBroadband will use the $1.1 million grant and $2.2 million local match to service 231 unserved and 26 underserved locations in the rural areas of southern Fillmore County. It will improve speeds to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload on a fiber network, exceeding the state’s 2022 and 2026 speed goals.
Brian Krambeer, president/CEO of MiEnergy, says MiBroadband received over 100 letters of support for the project from households, businesses and farms who are within the geographical area of the fiber project.
“The pandemic has shown us that broadband service is critical for rural areas,” says Krambeer. “The Border-to-Border grant and partnership with the State of Minnesota, Fillmore County and City of Preston helps make providing fiber to this area feasible.”
MiBroadband was one of 39 recipients of DEED’s Border-to-Border Grant Program, which announced over $20.6 million in grants on January 28 during a virtual press conference.
The company plans to break ground mid-summer to late fall.
MiBroadband was formed in 2018 through a partnership of three local cooperatives: Mabel Cooperative Telephone Company, MiEnergy Cooperative and Spring Grove Communications. Just as these cooperatives individually brought electricity and telephone service to rural areas decades ago, through MiBroadband they have launched the next stage of critical service by providing fixed wireless and fiber broadband to rural homes, farms and businesses in southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
MiEnergy Cooperative is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative and is the result of a merger between Hawkeye REC, of Cresco, Iowa and Tri-County Electric Cooperative, of Rushford, Minn. in 2017. It maintains 5,500 miles of power lines covering most of Fillmore, Houston and Winona counties in Minnesota and Chickasaw, Howard and Winneshiek counties in Iowa. The cooperative also serves small pockets bordering those counties. It provides electricity to more than 18,800 members in northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota. MiEnergy is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.