Stirring the Pot: Blandin Foundation and the Intelligent Community framework

Originally posted in Blandin eNews

It is exciting to work with three new communities in the Blandin Broadband Communities Program.  This group of communities is unique in our Blandin team experience of working with 36  communities in four previous cohorts.  Each of these three communities is or is in the process of being very well-served.  Swift and Rock Counties have county-wide broadband service, mostly over FTTH, via new competitors Acira and Alliance Communications; both companies are cooperatives.  While HBC is now completing its Fiber to the Home network within the City of Cannon Falls, this area still has some broadband challenges in the rural area.  The strong connectivity in these communities puts the opportunity in front of community leaders to begin the effort to transform their communities, making full use of these advanced telecommunications networks.

Which of these communities, and other communities that are well-served, will invest in their own future to make their communities competitive for attracting people and investment?  This will take vision and commitment, demonstrated by new equipment and tech services purchases.  Employees will need training.  The Blandin Broadband Communities Program is designed to spur cross-sector community collaboration to ease tech investment decision-making and enable community-wide training for current and future workforce.  Over the next several months, these communities will be convening stakeholders and planning their future, designing projects that meet community needs, led by community champions.  With their information highway installed, their future is firmly in their hands!  BBCs, start your engines!

Many people are aware that Blandin Foundation uses the Intelligent Community framework in its work with community broadband and vitality initiatives.  Each year the Intelligent Community Forum (www.intelligentcommunity.org) conducts a competition to name the most intelligent communities in the world.  I encourage you to consider applying for this competition.  The initial application, available online at is not challenging and each participating community receives a benchmarking report on how it compares to other participating communities in the areas of broadband, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital equity, sustainability and advocacy.  I recommend this as a good use of time and as a way to educate local policy makers on what it takes to compete for people and investment in the global economy.

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