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West central Minnesota cities among jurisdictions sharing $34 million grant for broadband and community improvements

The Department of Employment and Economic Development recently announced that 15 Minnesota communities, including Appleton, Benson, Madison and Redwood County, will receive significant grants to improve broadband services and make other community improvements. The grants are part of the federal CARES Act.

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ST. PAUL — Broadband services and buildings in several area communities will be improving, thanks to coronavirus relief grants totaling $34.6 million.

Appleton , Benson, Madison and Redwood County will receive grants ranging from $678,000 to $3.7 million.

They are among the 15 Minnesota cities and counties receiving money from the Small Cities Coronavirus Community Development Block Grant Program for broadband and other improvement projects.

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development , Minnesota received a special allocation from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to address community needs to prevent, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About $32 million is dedicated to broadband improvements.

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Other uses of this funding will include housing assistance, food shelf assistance, retrofitting buildings and commercial rehabilitation projects.

“The pandemic has made clear how vital broadband is to the lives of Minnesotans and to the economic vitality of our state,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “These grants will help communities fund broadband and other important projects as we write the next chapter of our economy.”

According to DEED, the city of Appleton received $3,699,000 for broadband improvement and commercial rehabilitation, the city of Benson received $678,000 for retrofitting buildings, the city of Madison received $2,560,000 for broadband improvements and Redwood County received $1,715,607 for broadband improvements.

Applications were rated according to need, impact, and cost-effectiveness. Funds are intended for projects that are focused on the locality and that will be used primarily for low-and-moderate income residents, according to DEED.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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