Connecting the East Range



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

East Range Ongoing Broadband Capacity-Building (ERJPB)

  • Total Project = $8,855
  • Grant = $3,800
  • East Range Ongoing Broadband Capacity-Building
    Previous funding supported the ERJPB’s facilitation work as the Laurentian, Tower, and East Range (LTE) broadband committee selected its consultants. However, the East Range’s leadership role in the project did not end there. ERJPB staff has continued to assist with the facilitation of the group and a smaller subcommittee that has met to develop surveys and schedule meetings for the townships. This role also allows us to explore potential projects that cross community boundaries. For example, early data from our consultant suggests that the East Range may achieve economies of scale by working to develop a broadband project that includes portions of both the City of Biwabik (an ERJPB member) and Biwabik Township (which is not an ERJPB member). This project builds on that earlier success by expanding opportunities for broadband education and continuing to support the regional group.

Tech Equipment and Internet Access (Ranger Snowmobile/ATV Club)

  • Total Project = $2,649
  • Grant = $1,766.63
  • Tech Equipment and Internet Access for Ranger Snowmobile & ATV Club
    The Ranger Snowmobile/ATV Club is in need of tech equipment to meet current needs. Their funding for trail management and maintenance is all dependent on computers. They would like to purchase a computer, printer, and software to complete reporting requirements. In addition, they request funding for two cell phone boosters for their snowmobile trail groomers to greatly increase their volunteer groomer operators’ safety in remote trail locations. They also seek internet access for one year and will use it to improve communications.

Hoyt Lakes Public Safety Building SMART Board (Hoyt Lakes Fire and EMS)

  • Total Project = $4,115
  • Grant = $2,743
  • Hoyt Lakes Public Safety Building SMART Board
    The Hoyt Lakes Public Safety Building houses the East Range Police Department and the Hoyt Lakes Fire and EMS Departments.  These entities utilize the building for training purposes to obtain mandatory continuing education for licensing purposes. They are asking to upgrade their outdated projector they use for all these meetings and trainings as it has been more than once that this projector has failed.  After some research we have decided the best way to do this would be the addition of a “SMART Board.” This is an interactive touch screen computer that mounts on the wall with a built-in computer to allow them to maximize our training needs by streaming videos, inserting training discs as well as using as a white board.

East Range Business Digital Marketing Training & Technology Audits (ERJPB Staff, Northeast Minnesota SBDC)

  • Total Project = $20,000
  • Grant = $5,000
  • East Range Business Digital Marketing Training & Technology Audits
    A major concern that emerged from the East Range business visit broadband survey-related questions (a previous East Range BBC project) was a lack of resources for businesses looking to improve their online presence. To provide this training, Northeast MN Small Business Development Center (NE MN SBDC) consultants will work one on one with business owners to audit their current technology and marketing platforms. We will contract with SBDC staff who has delivered these trainings for other Blandin Broadband Communities in the past.

BBC & LTE Facilitation, Training & Management (ERJPB Staff)

  • Total Project = $5,998
  • Grant = $2,999
  • BBC & LTE Facilitation, Training & Management
    This grant helps support activities by East Range Joint Powers Board staff who have helped guide the BBC’s activities over the past year and a half. These activities include: Attendance at the 2019 Blandin Broadband Conference at Grandview Lodge and facilitation of the Laurentian/Tower/East Range (LTE) feasibility study committee

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.

Palo Volunteer Fire Dept. Technology Initiative

  • Total Project = $3,204
  • Grant = $1,204
  • Palo Volunteer Fire Dept. Technology Initiative
    This project provides the PVFD with technology to become more efficient in their operations; including but not limited to responding to emergencies, documentation of Fire/EMS responses and services, and organization of all Fire/EMS related activities of the department. Upgrades include: a laptop and IPAD with a hotspot for the department to take with when responding to calls (for mapping and GPS services, documentation of services, and improving communication) and a new desktop system & printer/fax/copier to provide better training for the department.

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

East Range Joint Powers Board 

Disaster Relief Loan Program

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Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation

Grant & Loan 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