Chisago Lakes Blandin Broadband Projects
In late 2019, the Chisago Lakes Area was awarded a $75k Blandin Foundation grant to implement broadband projects throughout our community. We began the process by pulling together community members from various areas to determine what projects would have the biggest impact on our community. Here’s a look at the projects we’ve been working on:
Universal Broadband is a necessity today. With the ability to provide medical care, stream media, receive education, and connect with friend and family across the world, the time for universal connectivity is NOW! Throughout the Chisago Lakes area, folks are experiencing varying degrees of connectivity. With various providers and services available, this team set out to create a map of what broadband service looks like in our community. By utilizing a speed test and survey, we have been able to collect data that paints a dynamic picture of who has dependable internet and who does not. Here are the results of our survey:
Once the data was collected, this team began to learn and absorb all that they could to better understand what options are available, which companies are best able to provide the necessary infrastructure, and how to bring that to our community. We are in the process now of building relationships both with service companies as well as governmental entities to secure universal broadband for all.
Here are the results of the survey conducted, the community testimonials, as well as an ongoing speed test designed to enlighten the process of bringing universal broadband to rural Minnesota.
EmPOWERED by Innovation:
This group set out to bring digital literacy to our citizens ages 50+. Through developing community education courses, building tech labs, and implementing regular gatherings, this group has been able to develop, deploy, and assist people in our community with their varying technological needs.
- The Chisago Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau was able to hire a marketing specialist to grow our digital footprint, highlight our area to visitors, develop itineraries for locals and tourists alike, and to bring awareness to area businesses.
- The Chamber of Commerce was able to update the Chamber Website
Virtual Manufacturing Tours:
In partnership with our area cable network and local area manufacturing companies, we were able to tour and create videos highlighting some of our area businesses. These videos were used in Chisago Lakes High School classes. The overall goal of this project was to introduce the field of manufacturing to students, showing them career opportunities right here in our communities.
- Plastic Products (Lindstrom)
- Park Manufacturing (Cambridge)
- Smith Metals (Center City)
- Premier Marine (Wyoming)
- Rosenbauer (Wyoming)
- Anderson Windows (Bayfield)
Hotspots were purchased for student use during distance learning. These hotspots lessened the digital divide for students and educators as they navigated learning through the Covid-19 pandemic. Long term these hotspots will be available for checkout through the East Central Regional Library.
Rewriting the Rural Narrative:
On March 22nd, 2022 we invited Ben Winchester of the University of Minnesota Extension Program to join us and share his research on the sociology of rural living. Here is what he had to say: