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County to back Federated’s broadband grant application

Lead Summary

Swift County again has pledged bond funds to help Federated Telephone expand broadband fiber optic cable to unerved areas in the eastern half of the county. However, the costs have gone up substantially.
Last October, the county approved bonding for up to $5 million with the funds going to Federated as part of a $10 million project. Federated had agreed to make the bond payments over a 20-year period. It also agreed to pay the bonding issuing costs.
County backing was essential to the broadband grant application Federated was submitting to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for a $5 million grant.
Federated’s grant application to the state lost out in stiff competition for limited funds. Last year DEED received funding requests for $44.2 million for 40 projects around the state, but there was only $20 million in funds available.
Last year, Federated was also working with Big Stone County on expansion of broadband fiber with that project awarded $3.92 million to construct broadband infrastructure to 1,072 un-served residences.
DEED has said that it wants grant awards to show geographical fairness across the state, which meant that once Big Stone was approved, Swift County was out of consideration.
Now Federated, with the help of the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission (RDC) in Appleton, is again seeking grant funds and asking for county backing.

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