Call for Border-to-Border Broadband Applications

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Call for Border-to-Border Broadband Applications

Program Description and Background

In order to continue to promote broadband infrastructure expansion for areas of Minnesota that remain unserved or underserved, public sector investment is necessary. The Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program was initially established by the 2014 legislature to assist with costly deployment projects that might not occur without public financial assistance. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes §§ 116J.394-116J.398, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has the authority to award grants to assist broadband providers with eligible infrastructure installation costs. 

Funding Availability for FY2022/23

The funding available to be awarded to selected grantees will be $95 million. As designated in the 2022 legislative session, $25 million has been appropriated from state general revenue funds as available funding for the next round of the Minnesota broadband grant program. In the 2021 Special Session, $70 million for FY2022 and 2023 was approved by the state legislature from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act Capital Projects Funds for the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. Priority consideration will be given to projects that leverage greater amounts of funding for a project from other private and public sources. The maximum individual grant amount is $5 million. The maximum grant funding award cannot exceed 50% of the eligible total project costs.

Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants for this program are an incorporated business or partnership, a political subdivision, an Indian tribe, a Minnesota nonprofit organization organized under chapter 317A, a Minnesota cooperative association organized under chapter 308A or 308B, or a Minnesota limited liability corporation organized under chapter 322C for the purpose of expanding broadband access.

Eligible Project Areas

Broadband development projects located in unserved or underserved areas are eligible. An unserved area is an area of Minnesota in which households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds that meet the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) threshold of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 megabits per second (Mbps) upload. An underserved area is an area of Minnesota in which households or businesses do receive service at or above the FCC threshold of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up, but lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.

Eligible Program Costs

The Broadband Development Grant Program can pay up to 50% of the total costs for a qualifying project. Eligible costs refer to the costs associated with the acquisition and installation of middle mile and/or last mile infrastructure that can support broadband service scalable to speeds of at least 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload.

Matching Funds Requirement

To obtain a broadband development grant, the applicant must provide for the funding not covered by the grant with matching funds. The match can come from any private and/or public sources that allow for such use and are available to the applicant. The state grant funding period begins after the grant application is received, evaluated, and officially approved by the DEED Commissioner with an award letter and executed contract.

Required Pre-Application Outreach to Other Providers

Minnesota law 116J.395, subd. 5(9) requires that an application include evidence that no later than six weeks before submission of the application the applicant contacted, in writing, all entities providing broadband service in the proposed project area to ask for each broadband service provider’s plan to upgrade broadband service in the project area to speeds that meet or exceed the state’s broadband speed goals in section 237.012, subd. 1, within the time frame specified in the proposed grant activities. The application is also to include the broadband providers written responses. This means that the required notification to other providers must be completed by June 23, 2022, for an application to be submitted by the last day of the filing window of August 4, 2022. This requirement is in statute and cannot be waived; an application that does not contain the necessary information will not be considered for funding.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be reviewed by Office of Broadband Development staff, are eligible for a maximum 120 reviewer scoring points, and will be ranked on the following categories:

  • Anticipated broadband improvements – up to 20 points
  • Grant funding request amount – up to 10 points
  • Critical need/Community participation – up to 15 points
  • Project readiness – up to 25 points
  • Project sustainability – up to 25 points
  • Economic development and community impact – up to 15 points
  • Broadband adoption assistance – up to 10 points

Application Window and Deadlines for FY2022/23 Grants

The Minnesota Broadband Grant Program is a competitive grant award cycle for this 2021 and 2022 legislative appropriation for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The grant application for the FY2022/23 round will be available on June 2, 2022. A copy of the application packet can be found on DEED’s website and under the “2022 Application Process” tab.

All applications must be received at DEED on or before the application deadline of August 4, 2022, no later than 4:00 p.m. Central Time

Applications MUST be UPLOADED to DEED via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) portal on or prior to 4:00 p.m. Central Time on August 4, 2022, to be deemed eligible for funding. The application portal to submit your completed application will open July 8, 2022. The instructions to submit your application via the SFTP portal will be located on the same Office of Broadband Development (OBD) web page as above.

Announcement of awards is anticipated in Fall 2022.

Contact Information

For more information and Grant Instructions and Application Packet, consult our website, under Broadband Grant Program – 2022 Application Process tab. OBD/DEED will be posting a series of webinars to provide potential Applicants with more information about the program. Details about the recorded webinars will be available soon. Questions may also be submitted to and will be answered in FAQs posted to the website. Questions may be asked until the submission deadline of 4:00 p.m. central time on August 4, 2022.

Minnesota Government Data Practices Act

Under Minn. Stat. § 13.599:

  • Names and addresses of grant applicants and the amount requested will be public data once proposal responses are opened.
  • All remaining data in proposal responses (except trade secret data as defined and classified by § 13.37) will be public data once OBD has completed negotiating all grant agreements with the selected grantees.
  • All data created or maintained by OBD as part of the evaluation process (except trade secret data as defined and classified in § 13.37) will be public data once OBD has completed negotiating all grant agreements with the selected grantees.