Our Region is Stronger When We’re Connected

MNwest CEO Forum brings together community and business leaders

There’s good reason to be optimistic about economic growth and vitality in western Minnesota.

I’m feeling encouraged of late because of what I learned as a guest and presenter at the recent MNwest CEO Forum in Willmar. I heard from many motivated people, organizations and companies who want to see this region succeed.

This forum brought together regional business executives, entrepreneurs and community officials. In attendance were leaders in technology, education, agriculture, manufacturing, finance, local government, commerce and economic development.

Presenters shared their role in the region’s economic picture and offered insight about the opportunities they want to build on. A central theme at this year’s event was cybersecurity. Michael Johnson, of the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute, delivered the keynote speech, reminding us all that threats to our data exist everywhere in our increasingly connected world, no matter the industry in which we’re involved.

Events such as MNwest show that by working together—sharing ideas—we can leverage our strengths and support the groups working for sustainable growth, development and innovation in our communities.

Arvig was proud to be part of this important discussion and serve as a supporting sponsor. This was time well spent.

As a presenter, I had the opportunity to share Arvig’s story—who we are, what we do and where we’re headed. I’d like to expand on that here; specifically, what I think Arvig’s role is in making this region a better place to live and do business.

We know our roots

First, even as Arvig grows and diversifies, western Minnesota will always be an important region for the company. Arvig’s roots are here. Otter Tail County is where it all started for this company back in 1950. Arvig is proudly headquartered in Perham, where we now employ more than 300 people, and more than 900 total.

As an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Program) company, our employee-owners are invested—we have a stake in the company’s success and work hard to serve our customers.

On the business side, we realize how important internet connectivity is to everyone—businesses and residents alike. With that in mind, we’re continually reinvesting in technology and infrastructure to build our network, improve the quality of services and increase our reach. We’ve made a lot of progress on that front in the past year, with several major technology updates network-wide.

We understand the importance of fast, reliable internet service in rural areas. One of our long-term company-wide goals is installing or improving service in underserved and unserved parts of Minnesota. To that end, we’re in the second year of a 10-year effort to bring internet speeds of 25Mbps upload and 3Mbps download—or better—to rural Minnesota communities. Our construction crews worked in Ada, Twin Valley and Gary in 2017 and continued their efforts in Pelican Rapids and Cormorant in 2018.

As a technology company, we’re always looking ahead and trying to position ourselves for growth.

As you might know, 5G technology has officially arrived. Verizon went live in October 2018 with the world’s first 5G network.

Though development and adoption of the technology are still in the early phases, we’re looking closely at the challenges ahead so we can position ourselves to provide the latest technology and services. In terms of infrastructure, it’s projected that there will need to be eight to 10 times more wireless towers to support 5G network speeds and demand. There’s work to do, but we’re ready to do it.

Improving and innovating

On the product development side, we regularly evaluate our offerings to find new, more innovative ways to deliver our services. It’s our goal to bring our customers the most sought-after services. With that goal in mind, we recently released a new television product: Arvig WiFi TV.

Arvig WiFi TV allows us to deliver television services the way customers want it: On demand and on more devices. This new digital platform operates on your existing internet connection. Through an app you download to your TV, you have access to all the programs you did before, without the set-top box and wires.

WiFi TV is an alternative to traditional over-the-top television service delivered through a traditional cable connection. This service has many convenient enhancements, including a replay feature, cloud-based DVR and the ability to watch your programs on other devices.

Proud to be here

Arvig is proud to part of the western Minnesota’s business community as both a service provider and employer.

This recent forum was a reminder that there are many companies, organizations and people invested in the future of this region and want to see it grow and thrive. We all have an important and unique role, but we’re stronger when we’re connected.

Editor’s note: Schornack is Arvig’s Director of Business Development and Sales.

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