WILLMAR—There has been a local, state and national push to expand broadband access into underserved or unserved areas, especially since the pandemic has shown how instrumental it is to have reliable high-speed internet. U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, in a visit to Willmar on Friday, joined a roundtable discussion about broadband to hear and learn about how broadband expansion is going in Kandiyohi County.
“I’ve been coming to Kandiyohi County to talk about broadband for a long time,” Smith said. “We all are here because we understand how important broadband is. It is the fundamental infrastructure of the 21st century.”
As the federal government works to expand federal support for broadband, she wants to not only learn about upcoming projects but also hear their concerns and ideas on how to make the process easier.
“How can I be more helpful as we move through this?” Smith asked. “Fundamentally, how can the federal government be a better partner as you do this really, really important work here?”
High-speed broadband expansion has been a priority of Kandiyohi County for several years. With the opportunities presented due to the federal coronavirus relief funding bills, the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission’s broadband committee, along with staff and the County Board, have been working overtime to bring projects forward. Kandiyohi County plans to spend up to 75% of its more than $8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act on broadband projects, and has already committed almost $2 million.
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