By Joshua Schuetz
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz toured Bevcomm’s facility in Blue Earth on Thursday, January 11th. During the visit, Governor Walz expressed his support for rural broadband initiatives, emphasizing its significance for communities in Greater Minnesota. Bevcomm, a locally-owned provider of broadband services, has been at the forefront of providing accessible internet services in Faribault County.
CEDA team member Jennifer Howard attended the tour on behalf of the Faribault County EDA, along with Faribault County Commissioner Bill Groskreutz and Blue Earth’s City Administrator, Mary Kennedy.
One of the key points discussed during the visit was the ongoing effort to make broadband more accessible and affordable for local consumers. Bevcomm CEO Bill Eckles highlighted programs aimed at providing reduced rates for provider fees to low-income individuals, contributing to the goal of bridging the digital divide. The tour also highlighted Bevcomm’s work to keep up with the growing demand for internet services in the county.
“Part of the tour was of Bevcomm’s warehouse and Bevcomm has been really good about keeping up with supply and demand,” Howard said. “I think that’s part of why they’ve been so successful.”
The Governor’s commitment to rural broadband was evident as he praised local and rural providers, emphasizing the importance of keeping investments within these communities. He also mentioned a forthcoming $50 million in broadband funds by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in February, underlining the state’s dedication to enhancing broadband infrastructure.
Faribault County recently completed work on a major broadband initiative which expanded internet access to the communities of Bricelyn, Delavan, Elmore, and Frost. The county continues to show support for Bevcomm’s efforts. Jennifer Howard mentioned that Bevcomm applied for another grant, and the county earmarked a donation as a demonstration of continued support.
Howard said, “There’s a huge push for broadband funding for rural areas, and the governor said he wants to keep that money both rural and local. Bevcomm is working toward another grant in January, so we hope that they get that one and they can keep working toward closing the gap with broadband in our county.”