In 2010, a group of interested individuals from the Redwood area began meeting to talk about an issue that had been gaining attention nationwide.
Broadband access to every home that can handle the kinds of demands families need did not exist everywhere. The question being asked by the group was how could the upload and download speed be improved and made available for every resident of Redwood County and at what expense could that be offered.
A feasibility study, utilizing a grant from the Blandin Foundation was conducted with a matching grant using funds from local units of government and the telecommunications industry.
That study is now being used by a committee which continues to focus its attention on getting the best access available for everyone. The reason for the effort, explained Julie Rath of the Redwood Area Devel-opment Corporation (RADC) is because that is what residents and businesses want.
Having high-speed access becomes a marketing tool, Rath explained, and most businesses do ask questions about that when they are looking for a place to start or expand a business. With that in mind a new effort is being made through an organization known as U-Reka Broad-band ventures, and that organization is going to take the broadband idea to another level, said Rath.
The good news is the work being conducted is not going to cost more money, as remaining funds from the Blandin grant can be used.
Rath, who spoke about the upcoming project with the Redwood County board during its most recent regular meeting, said there was approximately $39,000 left in the fund, and even with the new project approximately $13,000 is going to be sent back as it was not used.
The project is going to include further exploration of the current broadband situation in the county by encouraging more public input and through the addition of public education.
During the project a campaign is going to be launched to test broadband speeds in all of the county.
Discussions are also going to be conducted with users to determine how broadband is being used and what could be done to improve what is available.
Part of that discussion wold also include what local users could do if broadband access was improved.
Rath said she knows there are businesses out there that could better utilize the Web for receiving and sending documents if broadband was upgraded.
Rath said there is a core group of individuals on the technology committee, in-cluding those representing schools, local telecommunications providers, businesses and technology experts.
She added, however, the hope is to add to the committee. Anyone who might be interested in being part of the committee is encouraged to contact the RADC at (507) 637-4004.
“We would love to meet with farmers to see how GPS is working for them on the farm and in the field,” Rath said, adding that kind of information could help improve that technology in the future.
Page 2 of 2 - The project is also going to include research on what other counties are doing to see how they can utilize that success rather than having to reinvent the wheel.
The goal is to complete the project by the middle of December.
More about broadband can be found on the RADC Web site at www.radc.org.