Connecting the East Range


East Range Joint Powers Board Meeting

April 21 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am

East Range Child Care Committee

April 28 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

East Range Joint Powers Board Meeting

May 26 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am

East Range Joint Powers Board Meeting

June 23 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am

Community Projects Deadline

To be included in the 3rd round of the Blandin Broadband Community Grants, project teams will need to get concepts to the ERJPB steering committee by March 31, 2020.
Submit via email to

Download Budget Form
Download Application Form

Date TBD, 4PM to 6PM, ERJPB Meeting Room, Aurora City Hall

Steering committee meeting to review and select projects. The steering committee includes approximately 10 individuals who signed up for it and attended the initial meeting at the credit union in January 2019, but will gladly accept new members if others wish to volunteer! We should emphasize that this process is designed to be collaborative, not competitive, and we want to include as many good ideas as we can.


The East Range Broadband team submitted the projects listed below to Blandin for funding approval.

Portable training lab for technology training (Sue Sowers & various educational partners)

  • Total Project = $17,050
  • Grant = $12,770
  • East Range Portable Training Lab
    This project will aim to develop a Portable Training Lab to provide computer/technology training to individuals and groups in the East Range communities. A portable lab will allow classes to be more accessible to anyone interested in learning, in job searching, or in keeping in touch with family and friends through trainings held in spaces such as libraries, community centers, senior centers, town halls, and other locations.

ERJPB website (ERJPB staff)

  • Total Project = $10,565
  • Grant = $6,192
  • East Range Joint Powers Board Website
    This project will enhance ERJPB website, which is currently just a basic landing page, to create a centralized point for community information and help raise awareness around broadband issues on the East Range. It will also give broader visibility to ERJPB’s staff, services, mission, vision, and values.

Business retention and expansion visits (ERJPB staff)

  • Total Project = $17,640
  • Grant = $13,230
  • East Range Business Retention and Expansion Visits
    Several businesses have expressed concerns about broadband access on the East Range and its implications for economic competitiveness and workforce recruitment, but to date, their engagement with the BBC program has been limited. This targeted business retention and expansion (BRE) effort will solicit business input on their broadband situations (familiarity, use, needs, etc.), seek to engage them in the BBC process, and strengthen the case for greater connectivity on the East Range.

Free wi-fi expansion in public locations in the communities (Pete Senarighi)

  • Total Project = $3,255
  • Grant = $1,575
  • East Range Public WiFi
    This project will add or expand wi-fi access at three public locations: the City of Biwabik, the Hoyt Lakes Library, and the Aurora Library. Currently, both libraries have poor placement of wi-fi access points, while Biwabik currently has no public access in the city hall or park/pavilion areas.

Police Squad Car Technology (East Range Police)

  • Total Project = $4,960
  • Grant = $3,306
  • East Range Police Squad Car Technology
    This project provides the East Range Police with upgraded laptops for squad cars. By updating all squad car technology to the same system, this project aims to increase the efficiency, communication, and response time of the police in order to better serve the East Range communities.

Communication Technology Upgrade (Mesabi East Schools)

  • Total Project = $6,036
  • Grant = $4,024
  • Mesabi East Communications
    This project provides upgraded television screens and technology throughout Mesabi East’s facility to ensure students, employees, and visitors have up to date information on school and community events, programs, and sporting events.

WiFi on School Buses (Mesabi East Schools)

  • Total Project = $3,663
  • Grant = $2,442
  • WiFi on School Buses
    This project aims to bring WiFi access to four school busses serving Mesabi East students. This will allow students access to their school issued iPads on longer school sponsored trips, athletic events, as well as during transportation to and from school.

Ambulance Technology (Hoyt Lakes Ambulance Service)

  • Total Project = $4,280
  • Grant = $2,853
  • Ambulance Technology
    This project provides updated technology for the Hoyt Lakes Ambulance service in order to keep connections with St. Louis County’s updated Computer Automated Dispatch (CAD) system. This will ensure that the Hoyt Lakes EMS will be able to respond to calls in a timely and efficient manner, as well as providing responders information about the directions and safety of the scene, and patient information.

EMS Training Laptop (Hoyt Lakes Ambulance Service)

  • Total Project = $999
  • Grant = $666
  • EMS Training Laptop
    This project provides an updated laptop for the Hoyt Lake’s Fire & Ambulance services to conduct training for their staff and responders. Trainings include Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Advanced Medical Life Support, Prehospital Trauma Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. These skills are refreshed biannually and ensure that EMS staff has the required knowledge and skills to serve the community.

STEM Kits & STEM Kits To Go (Hoyt Lakes Library)

  • Total Project = $3,022
  • Grant = $1,022
  • STEM Kits & STEM Kits To Go
    This project provides opportunities for interested community members to learn how to download apps, as well as coding and robotics basics either at the Hoyt Lakes library, or in their own homes with the STEM Kits to Go. By collaborating with Age to Age, scheduled classes and having kits available for check out, the Hoyt Lakes library hopes to foster interest in tech for all ages.

The Minnesota Legislature has established clear goals in statute to guide the state’s broadband development efforts through 2026.

Universal Access and High-Speed Goal

It is a state goal that (1) no later than 2022, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to high-speed broadband that provides minimum download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speeds of at least three megabits per second; and (2) no later than 2026, all Minnesota businesses and homes have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least 20 megabits per second.


Broadband has revolutionized business, government, education, work, and lifestyles. Without robust broadband access and fully technologically literate populations, rural communities will be unable to take advantage of the extraordinary benefits that ultra high-speed, next-generation Internet can provide. Since 2003, the Blandin Community Broadband Program has engaged at local, state and federal levels to ignite and sustain policies that support rural access to robust broadband. Guiding this work is a strategy board of public and private leaders to oversee the initiative and a vision.

The Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) program is an intensive, two-year partnership between rural Minnesota communities (cities, counties, tribes, or other self-identified communities of interest or place) and the foundation. Selected communities work through a proven process to define their technology goals, measure current levels of broadband access and use, and seek technical assistance and resources to meet their goals.

Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC)

Iron Range Broadband Communities 2019-2020

Made possible with funding support from the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR) and St. Louis County, the Iron Range cohort of Blandin Broadband Communities are located in IRRR’s service area: East Range Joint Powers, Laurentian Chamber of Commerce, Tower Economic Development Authority, and Iron Range Tourism Bureau.

Each BBC has the opportunity to apply to Blandin Foundation for matching grants (around $75,000 total) for locally developed projects that advance community identified technology goals over the two-year project period.

Matching funds are available to begin this study to learn what we have, how to access it and what is needed to be able to provide our businesses and residents with access to broadband services.

Funding Sources

Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation

Grant Resources

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission

Revolving Loan Fund

Entrepreneur Fund

Business Programs
Financing Resources

Northland Foundation

Emerging Entrepreneur Loans
Business & Quick Turn Loans

Great River Energy

Business Expansion Loan Program
E3 Loan Program