Recognizing the tremendous leadership that benefits rural Minnesota communities every day

As originally post on Blandin on Broadband blog

I want to take this opportunity to recognize the tremendous leadership that benefits rural Minnesota communities every day. Over the last several months, our Blandin team has completed work with one set of four Blandin Broadband Communities (BBCs) and launched initiatives with a new cohort of six BBCs to develop and implement community technology projects using the Intelligent Community model as a framework to improve broadband, address digital inclusion, develop workforce, spur innovation and support community engagement. The BBC program is all about “What is going to be different with broadband?” At the same time, we are midway through the Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate! program that focuses intensely on how our four participating communities can get better broadband. Both programs have proven effective over the years – the BBC program (originally MIRC Demonstration Communities) was recognized by both the MN High Tech Association and the Economic Development Association of Minnesota for excellence. The Accelerate! program helped two of the original four participating communities receive almost $6 million in grants before the 14 week program was even completed!

Our Blandin team provides some pretty good assistance, but nothing would be possible without the community leaders – elected, staff, and volunteers that devote countless hours to these initiatives. Few of these leaders know much about broadband when they begin this journey, but they excel in learning, teaching, motivating, encouraging, tracking, reporting, and doing – creating opportunities and positive results for their community. I have a memory bank full of these leaders and I think of them often, stirred by a trip through their town, a similar personality or incident.

For those of you long in the trenches, I want to thank you for your efforts and commitment. For those of you new in community initiatives, know that you can make a tremendous difference, both in the short and long term success of your community. I have forgotten who first told a crowd of leaders, “In rural areas, you do not need a title, just start doing things!” And as Bernadine often says “Bring a friend.” That is true now more than ever. Keep up the good work!