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LqP Valley selected as a Blandin Broadband Community

Renae Tostenson, superintendent for Lac qui Parle Valley Schools, tells broadband leaders gathered in Duluth about the community's plans as a Blandin Broadband Community. Submitted photo

DULUTH -- The Blandin Foundation announced Wednesday that Lac qui Parle Valley has been selected as a Blandin Broadband Community, one of only nine in the state.

Led by the Lac qui Parle Valley School District, the region's successful application was created by a team including government, education, health care, public institutions, as well as local residents and students.

"While our region already is well-equipped with broadband, the community has an ambitious vision for putting the system to work for the community as a whole," said Lac qui Parle Valley School District Superintendent Renae Tostenson, in a news release.

"The leadership team behind this work is excited to work with the Blandin Broadband Community program to put our infrastructure to use -- streaming video of local government meetings and school activities, sharing public and school library resources, providing students hands-on experience in media and technology businesses, strengthening local businesses' online marketing efforts, and much more."

According to the news release, the Lac qui Parle Valley School District is the state's 11th-largest by geography, and it serves 800 students within five counties and 735 square miles in far west central Minnesota.

The next steps in the Blandin Broadband Community partnership for Lac qui Parle Valley include assessing the community's current broadband access and adoption and, in early 2013, a series of planning events.

According to the new release, the Blandin Broadband Communities program is an intensive, two-year partnership between Blandin Foundation and the selected communities. The program provides planning and organizing support to regions that demonstrate readiness and resources to either bring robust broadband adoption to communities without it, or assist already connected communities make best use of information and services broadband can deliver.

Lac qui Parle Valley is one of nine rural Minnesota communities designated as Blandin Broadband Communities. Communities applied and were selected based on technology goals, current levels of broadband access and use, and ability to connect with other technical assistance and resources to meet their goals.

Other Blandin Broadband Communities announced Wednesday at the Blandin Foundation's annual broadband conference in Duluth are Fond du Lac, Itasca County, Kanabec County, Lake County, Southwest Minnesota, Mille Lacs County and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

"Lac qui Parle communities are ready and committed to take the next step with broadband, and we are delighted to be a partner again in their work," said Dr. Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation CEO. "We believe that, in the rich blend of education, the economy, inclusion and leadership, communities come together, defining and claiming their futures. This is especially true in a world more and more dependent on digital connections. We look forward to where our partnership leads!"

The Blandin Foundation works for vibrant rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all residents. Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., the foundation is focused exclusively on rural communities. It is the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota.