ST. PAUL – Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, announces Otter Tail Telcom will receive a pair of grants totaling more than $450,000 to assist in improving Internet access for underserved portions of the region.

The grants are two of 15 – totaling $11 million – announced by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Otter Tail Telcom’s grants include more than $295,000 to extend its existing fiber cable at the northern fringe of Fergus Falls to serve 56 households, seven businesses and one cell tower. DEED indicates the total cost is $621,962, with Otter Tail Telcom providing a 52 percent local match. The project will improve broadband service for numerous businesses and residents, while also bringing a new industrial park to shovel-ready status.

The other grant is more than $164,000 to help build out middle-mile broadband infrastructure north of Fergus Falls, where interstate highways 59 and 94 intersect. The project will provide high-speed Internet service to a number of households and nearby community institutions. Areas north and south of Elizabeth are included. The project is estimated to cost nearly $346,000 in total, with Otter Tail Telcom providing a 53-percent match.

A news release from DEED indicates “all customers served by Park Region Telephone Co., Otter Tail Telcom and other neighboring telecoms will benefit from the added connectivity. Remote clinics and hospitals associated with Sanford Health will have a seamless data flow of records, x-rays, scans and other medical information. Schools and libraries in the region also will benefit.”

“Congratulations to those involved in successfully earning these grants,” said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls. “These projects will have a variety of benefits for families and businesses in our area, and also create further opportunities for development. Improvements like these are what we envisioned when the Legislature provided funding for these grants. It is good to see some of that money land locally.”

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