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Border to Border Broadband

Local attendees of Blandin’s Border to Border Broadband conference in St. Paul – among them Marc Johnson, director of ECMECC; Beth Thorp, Mora city planner; and Keith Thelen, owner of Kanabec Systems – got a pleasant surprise yesterday when Kanabec County was featured in the keynote address.

Danna MacKenzie, director of the State of Minnesota’s new Office of Broadband Development, was in attendance and addressed the group. The prospect of new funds being made available at the state level for broadband expansion sounds promising. (Kanabec County is in an excellent position for expansion, having already completed a feasibility study and being engaged in ongoing expansion-related discussions with local providers.)

Michael Curri of the Strategic Networks Group was the keynote speaker; his focus was on the economic benefits to rural areas when broadband is made available and used effectively.

videos via TheUptake

The whitepaper generated by Mr. Curri is also available. In it, he states that only 27% of Kanabec County has access to broadband Internet service, and predicts that the economic impact of expanding access to the entire county could exceed $20 million.

Complete coverage of the conference is available at the Blandin Foundation’s Blandin on Broadband blog. (dala.mn even gets a mention in the video on ‘compiling and telling broadband community stories’.)

The conference also drew the attention of Minnesota Public Radio, who did a story on it.

On April 3, the East Central Broadband Initiative will hold its second annual summit in Hinckley to further discuss ways of expanding broadband Internet access in our area. Details will appear here, and at the KBI website, as they become available.

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