‘Optimistic’ Minnesota manufacturers expect an improving or stable 2019

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Minnesota manufacturers are starting the year with an optimistic outlook, with most saying they expect business conditions to either improve or stay the same in 2019. That was the takeaway from an annual survey released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Most of the 249 state manufacturers who responded to the survey in November said their business had improved or remained stable in 2018. Click here to view the original article from the Pioneer Press
MLEC Revolving Loan Fund supports growth in area

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

American Peat Technology (APT) continues to expand its capacity to meet a growing demand for its reed-sedge peat products. Officials from Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) and APT gathered at the Aitkin production facility to celebrate another milestone in the company’s growth: equipment financing secured through the MLEC revolving loan fund. Using a $132,000 loan approved by the MLEC board of directors at its regular meeting on Nov. 16, APT will invest a total of $165,000 in equipment that will help the company harvest and handle reed-sedge peat, before refining the raw material into products used in agricultural and water treatment applications. Click...
Broadband: Now and into the future

Monday, January 14, 2019

As part of the ongoing Iron Range Blandin Broadband Communities, Aitkin County held a community broadband visioning meeting 4 at Long Lake Conservation Center (LLCC). The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) is a state agency that serves the area based on school district boundaries where there was a mine or a power sourcing facility that served that mine. Grant-funded Broadband Community projects must be within Aitkin County, with a majority of the projects benefitting the service area. Click here to view the original article from the Aitkin Age.
Magazine Highlights Minnesota as a Top Spot for Business

Friday, January 11, 2019

The new edition of Minnesota: Thriving in the North spells out the benefits of doing business here. It highlights the state’s inviting business climate, innovative atmosphere and world-class workforce. The publication, available in both print and digital versions, is part of DEED’s ongoing work to promote the state’s advantages for business investment and expansion, as well as its culture of innovation and quality of life. Click here to view the original article from DEED Developments Blog
Potential improvements down the road

Friday, December 21, 2018

As plans for future expansion in McGrath are underway, American Peat Technology (APT) and Aitkin County are in discussion about potential road improvements on a four-mile segment of Hwy. 26 near the proposed new peat processing facility. APT Vice President Peggy Jones and representative Courtney Bot gave an update during the Nov. 13 Board of Commissioners meeting. The current APT location in Aitkin, in operation since 2003, harvests reed-sedge peat to produce value-added granular peat products for several industries. The Aitkin location will remain in operation, but it has reached capacity due to a high global demand for APT’s products, necessitating...
Incentives to invest in Opportunity Zones

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A new opportunity for funding development in Aitkin County was mentioned during the Economic Development Committee meeting on Nov. 14. Aitkin County Growth Executive Director Barb Carr said the county has received Opportunity Zone designation in areas including Aitkin and McGregor, and Tamarack down to the southern county boarder. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Opportunity Zones were created by the federal government as a way to spur private investment in distressed areas by allowing investors holding unrealized gains in stocks or mutual funds to invest in...
Meet R2DMoo, the Robot Cowboy on Duty at Cargill’s Beef Plants

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Cargill’s beef plant in Schuyler, Nebraska recently welcomed a new co-worker: a remote-controlled, two-armed, bag-waving robot cowboy some are calling R2DMoo. The silly-sounding robot serves a serious purpose: keeping employees safe. The average bovine that moves through Cargill’s beef plant can weigh up to three quarters of a ton, and the plant processes more than 5,000 each day. There are a lot of safety risks attached to these gentle-looking giants. Click here to view the original article from the MINNEINNO
Three Greater Minnesota Cities Awarded Infrastructure Grants

Friday, December 14, 2018

Funding will support infrastructure improvements in Jackson, St. Joseph, and Faribault ST. PAUL – Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded just over $2.35 million in grants to infrastructure projects in the Greater Minnesota area. The funding awarded from DEED’s Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program(BDPI) was approved for the cities of Jackson, St. Joseph and Faribault. It is expected to create an additional 166 full-time jobs and prepare these cities for future growth. Click here to view the original article from MN Employment and Economic Development
DEED Launches Tool to Measure, Report Broadband Access

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Check Speed Minnesota will give insight into consumer experience, inform policymakers ST PAUL - The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, located within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), today launched a new tool that will allow Minnesotans to test, map and report various broadband internet speeds across the state. CheckSpeedMinnesota.com is a benchmarking tool designed to gather information about the high-speed internet consumer experience in Minnesota. By answering a few questions and running a speed test, the input captured will help create a better overall picture of broadband in the state. Click here to view the original article from MN Employment...
Uncovering the issues surrounding rural housing

Monday, December 10, 2018

Opening the door to welcome solutions and ideas for the area Each of the nine articles in the “Rural Housing Series” investigated an aspect of the the multi-dimensional issues surrounding the shortage of available and affordable housing in the area. The goal of the series is to connect people with ideas to find solutions to this dilemma. In conclusion, the Age shares its findings related to the complex issue with a breakdown of each topic covered. Workforce housing “Lack of adequate rural housing hinders workforce” (June 13) explored the topic of hiring and housing from the perspectives of human resource staff from six of...
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Minnesota's ACT scores remain steady, among best in the U.S.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Minnesota's average declined slightly but not enough to alter its best-of-the-nation standing.  Minnesota students’ scores on the ACT college entrance exam dipped slightly this year but were still higher than those of any other state where nearly all students take the test. Graduating seniors in the class of 2018 earned an average composite score of 21.3 out of a possible 36, according to test results released Wednesday. That’s down from last year’s state average of 21.5, but still above the national average of 20.8 for the test that measures students’ college readiness in math, reading, science and English. It was also enough to...
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How Minnesota became the Land of 10,000 Startups

Friday, December 07, 2018

Minnesota is no stranger to big business. It’s home to such names as Target, Best Buy, General Mills, and Ecolab — all of which have made their homes in Minnesota for generations and have become a source of pride. But a new industry — technology — is taking Minnesota by storm, boosting the local economy and putting the state on the global map once again. Minnesota has long been known for its high standard of living, agriculture industry, and flourishing community of performing arts. But over the past decade the Twin Cities area has made great strides to become a forward-thinking...
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The University of Minnesota’s craziest, most interesting innovations

Thursday, December 06, 2018

The University of Minnesota is a research giant. Sure, most colleges and universities have an active team of researchers, but few institutions churn out inventions at the same rate as the U. Last year, the U was named by the National Science Foundation as one of the nation’s top 10 research institutions. A report released by the university in late 2017 estimates that it has had an $8.6 billion impact on Minnesota, and that its inventions generated more than $320 million for the state between 2009 and 2015. Simply put, the University of Minnesota is, and always has been, at the heart of the state’s...
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An Enterprise of Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Entrepreneurs, makers and artists networked with DEED representatives from the Offices of Small Business Assistance, Business Finance, Business Development, Small Business Development Centers, Minnesota Trade Office and Unemployment Insurance to learn about technical support and financing programs DEED offers that help get startups up and running.  DEED’s Startup open house, held Oct. 9 at the First National Bank Building in St. Paul, competed with some major Startup Week events taking place that morning, such as Manova Global Summit and specialized tracks in FinTech and Food Ag Ideas. Startup Week program attendees had twice as many events to choose from this year, compared to...
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Three Greater Minnesota cities awarded infrastructure grants funding will support improvements in Jackson, St. Joseph and Faribault

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

ST. PAUL – Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded just over $2.35 million in grants to infrastructure projects in the Greater Minnesota area. The funding awarded from DEED’s Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program(BDPI) was approved for the cities of Jackson, St. Joseph and Faribault. It is expected to create an additional 166 full-time jobs and prepare these cities for future growth. “These grants demonstrate how state government and the private sector can collaborate to create greater opportunity and continued economic growth throughout Minnesota,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “Working together these business expansions will support vibrant communities and create...
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DEED launches tool to measure, report broadband access

Monday, December 03, 2018

Check Speed Minnesota will give insight into consumer experience, inform policymakers ST PAUL - The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, located within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), today launched a new tool that will allow Minnesotans to test, map and report various broadband internet speeds across the state. CheckSpeedMinnesota.com is a benchmarking tool designed to gather information about the high-speed internet consumer experience in Minnesota. By answering a few questions and running a speed test, the input captured will help create a better overall picture of broadband in the state. “The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development is charged by law...
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Realty check: Broadband sells

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A common theme among realtors within the area is lost sales due to a lack of adequate broadband, Economic Development Coordinator Ross Wagner told Aitkin County commissioners during its meeting on Sept. 11. Wagner said, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was finding out that we are losing potential residents due to the lack of broadband in the area.”   The county was recently awarded an IRRRB matching grant, enabling it to award both SCI Broadband Inc and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative an Aitkin County Broadband Development Grant of $150,000 each. With this award, a total of 738 homes and two businesses...
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Rochester, Twin Cities ranked among most innovative on earth

Monday, November 12, 2018

ROCHESTER, MN — Innovation isn't easy. Case in point, your kids have heard of Netflix and Facebook, but will give you a blank look if you talk about Blockbuster or MySpace, two companies routinely listed among the biggest to fail specifically because they didn't innovate. So when we say three Minnesota cities were just ranked among the most innovative on Earth, it's — with apologies to Ron Burgundy and the movie "Anchorman" — kind of a big deal. The Australian data research company 2thinknow, which crunches numbers from cities across the globe, released its 11th annual Innovation Cities Index rankings of the...
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How are we doing? Minnesota near top of 'best economy' states

Friday, November 09, 2018

A ranking of state economies using metrics like poverty rate, home ownership, job growth and education puts Minnesota ahead of California (and, more important, Wisconsin).  USA Today reports on the listing, compiled by financial site 24/7 Wall Street. Minnesota comes in No. 7 overall, just behind Hawaii. The state scored points for its low unemployment rate (3.1 percent at the time of the survey), GDP annual growth rate of 1.7 percent (the 14th best in the list) and an especially high home ownership rate of 71.3 percent. The top-ranked states overall were Colorado, Utah and Massachusetts. Louisiana, Alaska and West Virginia came in last. Continue...
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Innovation Voucher Award Program

Friday, November 09, 2018

Financial Awards Give Small Businesses Access to Technical Assistance The Innovation Voucher Award Program provides $5,000 to $25,000 awards to help small businesses purchase technical assistance and services necessary to advance research, development or commercialization of new or innovative products and services. Qualifying businesses receive awards – which the recipient must match on a 50 percent basis – to reimburse for expenses incurred for assistance and services rendered by public universities, colleges, technical schools and non-profits in Minnesota. Reimbursable expenses include purchased technical assistance and services in research, technical development, product development, commercialization, market development, technology exploration, and improved business practices, including strategies to...
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Aitkin Action Alliance: Strategy for success

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Last year, the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee partnered with APEX to form the Aitkin Action Alliance. A strategic plan was formed, and a business outreach program began. Local areas of opportunity and strength were identified and built upon to drive investment in the region. During the committee’s meeting on Sept. 12, APEX Business Developer Tamara Lowney gave an update on the strategic plan. Target areas addressed by the strategic plan are: workforce, support existing businesses, brand and marketing plan, beyond the status quo, industrial park, training-entrepreneur, recreation-hospitality, attraction, housing and legislative. “The success of the plan is heavily...
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More Minnesotans are working past 65

Monday, October 29, 2018

NUMBER PROJECTED TO INCREASE WITH FUTURE GENERATIONS DULUTH — Sixty-five came and went, and Marcia Gurno didn’t bat an eye. “As long as I feel like I’m still making a contribution, and as long as my mind is sharp and I’m still willing to learn and be open to new ideas, and my body holds out — that’s my order for how I look at retirement.” The St. Louis County social worker turns 67 in November and has no plans to stop punching the clock anytime soon. “People expect me to show up and perform, and it keeps me going.” She’s not alone — both...
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MnDOT announces availability of competitive grants for community transportation projects

Friday, October 26, 2018

Minnesota communities, schools and their partners are invited to apply for funding on local projects that enhance transportation goals, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. For the 2018-19 application cycle, MnDOT is conducting a joint solicitation for the Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes to School State Infrastructure programs. Applicants submit a single letter of intent to be considered for both programs. A regional representative will contact applicants to help review the project proposal and the steps necessary for delivering a funded project. Applicants will then submit a full grant application. A total of $6.5 million is available in federal funding through...
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Minnesota Manufacturing Week

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed Oct. 1-7, 2018 as Minnesota Manufacturing Week. Because manufacturing is a vital part of Minnesota’s economic health. One in nine jobs in Minnesota is in manufacturing – and these tend to be high-quality jobs that pay well. The average manufacturing job paid $65,728 in 2017. That’s over $9,500 – about 17 percent – higher than the typical job in Minnesota. “Manufacturing plays a critical role in the growth of Minnesota’s economy, providing access to high-quality, high-wages jobs,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. Manufacturing contributed $49.2 billion to the state’s economy (Gross Domestic Product) in 2017. Minnesota has 319,000 jobs...
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In Southwest Minnesota, food manufacturing brings much to the table

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Southwest Minnesota accounts for nearly one-fourth of the food manufacturing jobs in the state. Chew on this: Southwest Minnesota is home to 109 food manufacturing establishments providing more than 13,000 jobs and $571.5 million in annual payroll. That is nearly 25 percent of the state’s total employment in food manufacturing, making it one of the region’s most distinguishing industries. In 2017, food manufacturing was nearly four times more concentrated in Southwest Minnesota than the state as a whole. Not surprisingly, Southwest also has several other agriculture-related industries that are more concentrated in the region than the rest of the state: animal production...
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DEED awards $2.16 million for redevelopment projects

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Eight blighted sites targeted for cleanup and redevelopment ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded $2.16 million in grants and loans for eight redevelopment projects in Minnesota.  The agency awarded seven grants under its Redevelopment Grant Program for projects in Battle Lake, Edina, Fridley, Mankato, Minneapolis (two) and Winona. In addition, DEED approved a loan from its Demolition Loan Program for a project in Braham. The projects will create or retain 1,822 jobs and increase local tax bases by $2.6 million. “Redevelopment grants and loans are a good taxpayer investment, with the latest round of projects attracting $151.8 million...
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County leadership discuss change, challenges, vision

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Association of Minnesota Counties strategic planning workshop was held at Long Lake Conservation Center on Aug. 21. Workshop discussion focused on defining the core values, and reviewing the mission statement and vision of Aitkin County. In a group discussion led by Education Director Heather Bandeen, county leadership spoke about external and internal challenges faced by the organization from the perspectives of each department. “I want you to think about the challenges that are happening statewide,” Bandeen said. Responses ranged from changes in technology, need for training, retaining and recruiting staff, economic development and public communication. Continue to full article
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Minnesota exports at record $5.9 billion in second quarter

Friday, October 05, 2018

Exports grew 15 percent between the second quarters of 2017 and 2018 ST. PAUL – Sales of Minnesota agricultural, mining and manufactured exports grew 15 percent to a second quarter record of $5.9 billion, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Minnesota represents the 11th largest gain in exports nationwide for this period. U.S. exports as a whole were up 11 percent, with 43 states reporting increased export sales. It is unknown whether countermeasures on U.S. exports had any impact on these statistics. Countermeasures were implemented in June and July by Canada, Mexico, China, and the European...
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Minnesota looking to attract 'mass timber' producers

Thursday, October 04, 2018

A burgeoning industry based on a relatively new type of material may be coming to Minnesota. Known as mass timber, the material is an alternative to steel in building construction. While dozens of buildings constructed with the product are dotted around the country, the majority stand in the Pacific Northwest. "This type of building product is new to the U.S.," said Brian Brashaw, a program manager with the U.S. Forest Service. "It's geared at taller buildings; it's building more along the lines of four, five and six stories. That product is seeing a lot of growth in the United States." Now, local groups...
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Helping startups succeed—and stay—in the Midwest

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

At the University of Minnesota, launching a new company is one of several ways that breakthrough research can move beyond the lab to benefit the public. But finding the right leader, with the right experience, to bring these new technologies to market can be difficult. “Leadership is just as important as intellectual property to a startup’s success,” said Mary MacCarthy, Venture Center program manager with the U’s Venture Center in the Office for Technology Commercialization. “The biggest challenge the U of M has with launching our startups is finding skilled, available CEOs with experience in particular industries.” A new network comprising 11...
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Number of women-owned businesses increased nearly 3,000% since 1972, according to new research

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Eighth Annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, Commissioned by American Express, Finds Women Are Starting an Average of 1,821 Net New U.S. Businesses a Day Number of Firms Owned by Minority Women Has Grown by Nearly 3 Times That of All Women-Owned Firms Over the Past 11 Years NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018, according to analysis in the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express (NYSE:AXP). This level of new business formation by women is greater than the daily average during the pre-recession period...
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Innovation Voucher Award Program

Friday, September 28, 2018

Financial Awards Give Small Businesses Access to Technical Assistance The Innovation Voucher Award Program provides $5,000 to $25,000 awards to help small businesses purchase technical assistance and services necessary to advance research, development or commercialization of new or innovative products and services. Qualifying businesses receive awards – which the recipient must match on a 50 percent basis – to reimburse for expenses incurred for assistance and services rendered by public universities, colleges, technical schools and non-profits in Minnesota. Reimbursable expenses include purchased technical assistance and services in research, technical development, product development, commercialization, market development, technology exploration, and improved business practices, including strategies to...
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Twin Metals Minnesota names Osborne CEO

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kelly Osborne has been named chief executive at Twin Metals Minnesota. Osborne returns to TMM after previously working with Duluth Metals starting in July 2012, including serving as CEO of TMM from 2014-2015. He has more than 30 years of experience in the mining industry, including underground operation. Devoted to the outdoors and northern Minnesota adventures, Osborne’s leadership values, the company said,  are consistent with TMM’s commitment to design an environmentally responsible underground mine that protects our wilderness, natural environment, and recreational and cultural resources. His industry expertise will be a valuable asset in ensuring our project meets or exceeds environmental regulations. TMM...
Entrepreneur Fund, Great River Energy combine resources

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Entrepreneur Fund and Great River Energy (GRE) are partnering to distribute $1 million of loan financing in rural areas. The money is being provided through Great River’s revolving loan fund and will be available for projects that are served by one of GRE’s electric cooperatives. They include Arrowhead Electric, Cooperative Light & Power, East Central Energy, Lake Country Power, Mille Lacs Energy and North Itasca Electric Cooperative.  The Entrepreneur Fund – which offers consulting, programming, training and small business financing up to $750,000 – will work with borrowers and guide them through the application process, then service the loans. Entrepreneur Fund...
Daikin plans $40.3 million expansion in Faribault

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Company adding to manufacturing operations, creating 132 jobs ST. PAUL – Commercial HVAC manufacturer Daikin Applied Americas Inc. will create 132 jobs and invest $40.3 million to expand its manufacturing operations in Faribault.  The company said it will buy an existing 300,000-square-foot warehouse and renovate the building into a state-of-the-art production facility. The new jobs will be created within five years and pay wages that average $22.20 an hour. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is supporting the project with a $750,000 loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund and a $1.6 million grant from the Job Creation Fund. The company will...
County to apply for grant to fund more broadband

Monday, August 20, 2018

Aitkin County may have an opportunity to increase its broadband funding through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB) community infrastructure grant. Upon recommendation from Economic Development Coordinator Ross Wagner, the board approved submitting an application for the IRRRB grant during its regular meeting on July 24. Last year, the county dedicated $450,000 for a three-year Aitkin County Broadband Development Grant, to be funded at $150,000 a year for local projects. This year, SCI Broadband, Inc. and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) submitted applications to the county. The Economic Development Committee recommended the county award its grant to SCI since it will...
Grand opening of new Bell Museum has link to Palisade company

Monday, August 20, 2018

Superior Thermowood of Minnesota’s Palisade wood treatment plant has been processing wood, making specialized parts, and negotiating new markets, all while working to rebuild after a devastating fire in July 2015. The business was open within 13 days of the fire to complete orders for lumber. However, according to owner and manager John Bieganek it’s been an unbelievable challenge for him and his employees, Gene Mejdrich, Vern Bishop, and Greg Kaczor to move forward with all the damage from the fire still so visible around them. Despite the challenges, roughly 360,000 board feet of lumber was processed in 2017. Rising from the...
Broadband initiative success stories shared with Blandin leadership

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Community leaders from Aitkin met with Bernadine Joselyn and Mary Magnuson of Blandin Foundation, and Bill Coleman from Community Technology Resources in Aitkin on July 21. The group met to share success stories and celebrate the first round of Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) success stories. The 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. Each BBC...