Minnesota Planners' Municipal Broadband Gabfest

APA Minnesota Chapter


Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 10:30 a.m.
Friday, September 29, 2017, noon CDT

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Minnesota town and county managers are increasingly finding themselves being asked to act as both coordinators and “champions” for municipal broadband initiatives – an important new role that requires not only an understanding of the technologies involved, but a familiarity with important legal, financial, and operational issues that are very different from matters traditionally dealt with by the planning and town management community.

This session, led by Dr. Dale Neef, author and technology economist, will discuss the relationship between high-speed broadband and economic development, and explain why municipal broadband projects are becoming important for small towns and rural communities. He will also review the results of the APA’s Small Town and Rural and Economic Development divisions’ 2017 Municipal Broadband Survey and discuss what training, education and tools APA members have said that they will need in the future in order to help the make these community broadband projects successful.

The session’s second panel member, Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors and the Blandin Foundation, will explore the key aspects of the Minnesota municipal broadband movement and discuss the planning and management issues (and emerging project roles) that planning officers can be expected to play in a community broadband initiatives.

The session’s third speaker and panel member will be Mark Erickson, Economic Development Authority Director for the city of Winthrop, who will provide a first-hand account of his experience in creating the RS Fiber multi-town municipal broadband project in Renville and Sibley counties.

Educational objectives:

• Better understand the municipal broadband movement in Minnesota;

• Appreciate the role that small town and rural community planners can play as "champions" and supporters of municipal broadband projects;

• Reveal the results of APA’s recent member survey on municipal broadband, and discuss what education, training and tools planners say they need to respond to community broadband initiatives.


Bill Coleman

Confirmed Speaker

Bill Coleman, of Community Technology Advisors and the Blandin Foundation, helps communities make the connection between telecommunications and economic development, and to develop and implement programs of broadband infrastructure investment and technology promotion and training. Bill has a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and Political Science from Mankato State ... Read More

Dale Neef

Confirmed Speaker

Dale Neef is an author and strategic technology consultant who advises organizations and communities on digital-economy issues. He has been a technical consultant for the Asian Development Bank, has worked for IBM and Computer Sciences Corp., and was a fellow at Ernst & Young's Center for Business Innovation. He is ... Read More

Mark Erickson

Confirmed Speaker

Mark Erickson is the Director of the Economic Development Authority for the city of Winthrop, Minnesota, and has been helping organize and promote the RS Fiber project in West Central Minnesota since 2009. Prior to Winthrop he was employed by Hiawatha Broadband Communications in Winona, Minnesota, working with communities interested ... Read More

Contact Info

Jane Kansier, janeka@bolton-menk.com