How much is broadband investment worth? A lot of bratwurst

It’’s become an article of faith that a rural community needs high-speed access to the Internet if businesses are going to thrive. But just how much difference does access to and use of broadband make?

There were two answers Wednesday at the Blandin Foundation’s Border to Border Broadband conference in St. Paul. One involved numbers and modeling and predictions. The other had more to do with bratwurst.

First, the numbers. A study commissioned by Blandin and released Wednesday says the southwestern Minnesota county of Lac qui Parle could boost business revenue $1.2 million a year by getting existing businesses to use more wisely the broadband access they already have. That could be achieved with an investment of between $120,000 and $145,000 by public entities to educate and train people, according to the study by Strategic Networks Group, a Denver firm hired by Blandin.

Lac qui Parle County already has good broadband service via fiber to most residents. But SNG also looked at Kanabec County in eastern Minnesota, where broadband access is much worse. There, the study found, the potential gain is much greater. Business revenue could rise $18.2 million, according to SNG. Keep Reading on NPR website>>>

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