Governor Walz Visits Arvig to Discuss Better Broadband for Minnesotans
Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner, Steve Grove, visited Arvig in Melrose, Minn., today to discuss the DEED Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program funds being awarded to the company. According to a release from the Governor’s office last week, 30 projects across the state are receiving funding to bring high-quality broadband access to underserved and unserved areas of Minnesota providing fast, reliable internet access for more than 10,900 businesses, homes, and community anchor institutions.
Arvig received two of the 30 DEED broadband grants. The first grant funds middle and last mile upgrades to approximately 84 unserved and 336 underserved locations in the Rice Lake and Brown Lake areas in rural Eden Valley/Stearns County. It also helps fund broadband improvements for part of the Melrose industrial park near Interstate 94. In addition to the $393,890 grant, Arvig is investing an additional $731,510 and the City of Melrose approved a $10,000 local investment bringing the project total to $1,125,400.
Businesses in the Melrose industrial park will soon have broadband service levels up to 1 Gbps download and 1 Gbps upload, exceeding state speed goals. This advanced broadband access addresses the needs of existing businesses and will attract additional businesses. The rural Eden Valley portion of the project will bring improved quality of life, including opportunities for business, education, health care and telecommuting options.
Governor Walz and Commissioner Grove met with the Melrose-area project partners including Arvig leadership, Melrose city government officials, and key business leaders in the area to discuss the impact that faster internet speeds would have on the area. The group also toured Arvig’s central office facility.
“Fast, reliable broadband access is a critical economic development tool that improves quality of life and makes businesses in Greater Minnesota more competitive,” said Governor Walz. “These grants help us get closer to our goal to ensure that every Minnesotan has high-speed internet access by 2022.”
“Providing the ability to increase the bandwidth (speed) the businesses use allows them to be more nimble and operate more efficiently. The new fiber connection that will be installed also ensures those businesses that they cannot outgrow the broadband service provided,” said Mark Birkholz, Director of Customer Operations and Southern Markets at Arvig. “They can double, triple or even expand ten times their current size and yet the Internet will be beyond what they can consume.”
The second grant Arvig received is for $430,780, with a local match of $800,020 from Arvig and Otter Tail County, bringing the total project investment to $1,230,800, to upgrade internet services to approximately 481 unserved locations near Pelican Lake, Lake Ida, Turtle Lake and Big Cormorant Lake in Otter Tail, Becker and Clay counties.
“We are committed to continually upgrading our network to provide faster internet speeds to our customers. The DEED Border-to-Border Grants help us make upgrades more quickly and in more areas,” said Dave Schornack, Director of Business Development and Sales at Arvig. “Because we will be able to provide up to 1 Gbps symmetrical speeds with these upgrades, the investment will ensure our customers have a great experience long into the future.”
Arvig’s commitment to bringing broadband to rural Minnesota includes extensive projects over multiple years. In fact, Arvig built more than 360 fiber-route miles in 2019 to improve service for rural Minnesotans and plans to build an additional 470 fiber-route miles in 2020 in addition to the two projects receiving Minnesota DEED grant funding.
Established in 1950, today, Arvig is one of the largest independent broadband and telecommunications providers in the nation. Arvig delivers cutting-edge technology to customers throughout the state of Minnesota and the upper Midwest via a robust network that reaches into Nebraska. In addition to providing residential services, Arvig uses its more than 10,000 fiber route miles to deliver internet, television and telephone services to businesses and residents as well as fiber wholesale services, business phone systems, business IT services, construction, security and more. Visit arvigbusiness.com for additional information.