Minnesota to get over $650M for broadband expansion

Minnesota is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to aid the state’s broadband expansion efforts.

Monday, the U.S. Commerce Department announced funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to be used for broadband expansion, with nearly $652 million coming to Minnesota.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office says the funding will be used for broadband infrastructure grants that will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The funding announcement comes after state lawmakers approved $100 million for broadband expansion just last month, and just weeks after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $50 million in grants specifically focused on helping connect farmers to high-speed internet in five Minnesota counties.

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“We should be able to bring high-speed internet to every family in America — regardless of their zip code. With this federal funding we will reach every corner of Minnesota by bringing needed high-speed internet access to schools, homes, and health care centers,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., one of the authors of the legislation, said in a statement. “This funding is based on a bill I introduced that passed as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and as co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, I’ll keep working across the aisle to make sure all Minnesotans can reliably access the high-speed internet they need.”

“In Minnesota, we’ve made historic investments to connect more homes, businesses, and communities with the high-speed internet that today’s economy requires. The funding will help us make sure those efforts reach each end every household across our state,” Gov. Walz added. “Minnesota has an ambitious goal to increase broadband access and a collection of providers ready to expand our high-speed network, and we’re grateful our federal partners are helping us pursue broadband for all.”

The governor’s office says the federal funding will help Minnesota in its effort to bring high-speed internet to all homes and businesses in the state by 2026. It also says DEED’s broadband development grant program has already connected more than 103,000 homes and businesses to broadband since the program was created back in 2014.

“Broadband is an economic and societal imperative,” DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek said. “Widely available broadband will help more Minnesotans find a good job or launch a business regardless of geography. Today’s announcement is a boon for Greater Minnesota and anywhere Minnesotans struggle to connect to high-speed broadband.”

Federal officials are expected to announce more broadband funding for states next year.