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February 3, 2023

12/23/2022 3:02:00 PM
City of Harris gets over $1 million in grants

The City of Harris is the lone applicant located in Chisago County to have won a grant from almost $100 million awarded for enhancing Minnesota broadband.  The Governor announced the grant winners December 8.

There are 61 projects in 48 counties being awarded the $99.6 million.

Harris is being awarded $465,814.

Harris will partner with CenturyLink’s field contractor to enhance Internet fiber-to-premises service for 119 “unserved” locations and another 66 “under served” spots.  There is already a main “backbone” along the I-35 corridor ideally situated for Harris to connect to.  The enhanced fiber is expected to provided 100 up and 100 down service to meet speed and capacity standards into the future.

The Harris grant from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)has a two-year window in which to be spent and it compliments a federal (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) RDOF program grant that Harris won two years ago— which is good for six years.

Harris Mayor Randy Carlson told the Press in a. phone interview the timing worked out well, and the separate funding streams should converge/overlap nicely.  He thanked County Economic Development Director Nancy Hoffman for her support of the city’s efforts.

Harris Council is still finalizing the Internet enhancement project finances;  but Mayor Carlson said the plan is to request funds out of the Chisago County broadband enhancement program to help cover payments  due relatively quickly. (Story on County Internet Infrastructure Report was in Press December 8.)

There are multiple options for financing the Internet remaining costs that Harris is consulting on.  City officials need to discuss how to proceed, including if customers are assessed for what’s remaining or if the city adopts a taxing district or if another process is utilized, Carlson explained.

Hopefully trenching can get underway by spring thaw, he added.

Harris has also been awarded a Small Cities Development Grant to replace one of its two wells that is not in service.

Mayor Carlson noted that alongside these projects are the extension bringing the Sunrise Prairie Trail into Harris, from North Branch;  and streetwork that’s on the schedule, so next year will be active as Harris is attending to community needs.

DEED opened the application window on the next round of Internet projects for the state Fiscal Year 2023/2024 as of December 19.  Visit the Office of Broadband Development page on-line for internet infrastructure funding details.

The legislature set aside a maximum of $67 million for these upcoming grants.  The Internet enhancement funding has been offered at various levels for six years. In the 2022 legislative session the legislature directed federal American Recovery Program Act funds and state general revenue funds to this recent round.

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