Paul Bunyan Communications was recently awarded a “Border to Border” Broadband Grant from the state to expand fiber optic services to portions of Koochiching County and St. Louis County.
This project will pass a minimum of 1100 locations in those counties, and is expected to cost $5.68 million.
The B2B grant will contribute $2.35 million, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board grant will contribute over $800,000, with Paul Bunyan communications investing $2.5 million into the project, according to the release.
Koochiching County will contribute $26,000 towards the project as well, and Morcom Township will contribute $10,000.
“This is huge for our region. Access to quality broadband service is vital to so many different facets of life including health care, education, business, and recreation. It is why I co-authored the bill to fund the Border to Border Grant Program in 2020 and introduced legislation to allocate another $30 million for the program in 2021,” said State 3A Representative Bob Ecklund.
“I applaud all those involved with supporting the effort to secure this grant so we can keep our rural communities thriving and vibrant.”
“We are excited to continue our expansion efforts to provide access to broadband Internet speeds to those without it in our region. Our cooperative has a long history of expanding our network to underserved areas but it has become increasingly challenging to go it alone without grant support. The State of Minnesota Border to Border Grant Program, Koochiching County, Morcom Township, IRRRB, and the Koochiching Technology Initiative were instrumental in building community support for the grant application to make this project a reality, said Paul Bunyan Communications CEO Gary Johnson.
“These areas will not only get Broadband access, they will go from slow satellite or dial up Internet to speeds of up to a Gigabit per second and become part of one of the largest rural Gigabit networks in the country!”