Staples wins community pride award for fiber


by Ann Treacy | September 8, 2009 • Over the weekend, 13 communities were recognized in a Community Pride Contest. People could nominate a community based on whatever made them proud. So it was fun to see that the Staples area signed up (and won!) based on their fiber broadband initiative.

Here’s their story:

Blandin on Broadband offers information on broadband use, access, and trends especially in rural Minnesota. Sponsored by the Blandin Foundation and their Broadband Initiative.

Project/Initiative: Fiber Broadband Initiative

Reinventing and connecting rural and urban communities statewide is the goal of a consortium effort in Staples, a community of 3,100 in Todd County. Leaders from the K-18 system, area businesses and nonprofits, and the City of Staples see broadband capacity as key to economic growth and development and a means to ensuring long-term survival of the community: “This is truly an opportunity to reinvent a low-income, rural area by establishing the groundwork necessary to bring in new people, new ideas, and new economic opportunities.”

This initiative involves the installation of fiber optic lines to bring high speed internet to all homes and businesses in Greater Staples. In February 2009, phase one of this effort—installation of a direct wireless system to make wireless internet available to those just outside Staples city limits—went live. Phase two will involve installation of the broadband ‘backbone’ that will link each collaborative entity.

Planners believe that the community collaborative team approach is unique; the collaborative team is willing and excited to document and share its methods with other communities undertaking ‘big picture’ projects.

Selected Key Partners: City of Staples; Lakewood Health Systems; Central Lakes College; Motley-Staples Schools; LEAP Staples Business Group.

They won for communities with a population between 1,000-4,999.