U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $82.4 million for broadband infrastructure expansion in St. Louis, Lake, and Cook Counties. In Cook County, Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc., has been awarded an $11,296,239 grant and a $4,841,245 low-interest government loan for broadband development that will benefit an estimated 11,000 people, 138 businesses, and 63 community institutions.
With the help of Arrowhead’s partner, Pulse Broadband
, the cooperative will be deploying an advanced fiber network to connect every residential and commercial account on the Arrowhead Electric Coop’s electrical network and within the city of Grand Marais.
The funds are provided through the USDA’s Rural Utilities Program. Lake and eastern St. Louis Counties were awarded $66.3 million for projects that will benefit an estimated 37,000 people, 1,000 businesses, and 98 community institutions. The projects are expected to create nearly 600 jobs in the short term and provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation for decades to come.
“Decades ago, we made sure every American had access to electricity and the telephone, and today, it’s critical we do the same for internet access,” Klobuchar said.
Last month, Klobuchar convened a broadband summit in Minneapolis that focused on maximizing the potential of high-speed, affordable internet as a driver of economic development and job creation. At that meeting Bruce Kerfoot, owner of the Gunflint Lodge highlighted the importance of broadband access to Northeast Minnesota and discussed the need to expand its reach to rural communities.