Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Broadband a high priority for economic development

Keith Vandervort
Posted 10/11/18

ELY – The city of Ely is continuing its efforts to spur smarter use of technology for improved and successful economic development and ultimately an improved quality of life throughout the …

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Broadband a high priority for economic development

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ELY – The city of Ely is continuing its efforts to spur smarter use of technology for improved and successful economic development and ultimately an improved quality of life throughout the community.

Clerk-Treasurer Harold Langowski told the Ely Economic Development Authority Tuesday night that the goal of establishing a reliable broadband network in the Ely area remains at the top of the list for many in the community and more funding is available to help reach that goal.

Similar to a program funded and facilitated two years ago by the Blandin Foundation, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and St. Louis County, Ely and five other communities in northern Minnesota will again share $50,000 in an effort to be more tech-savvy as better broadband is pursued and established throughout the Ely School District.

A Broadband Visioning Community Meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 4-7 p.m. at Amici’s Events Center with the entire Ely community invited to join a coalition of local leaders to explore options and alternatives to improve broadband speed and availability. Representatives from the Blandin Foundation will again attend the meeting.

“Over the past two years we have enhanced Ely’s web presence, assisted businesses to be more tech-savvy, distributed refurbished computers to families and pursued better broadband throughout the area,” Langowski said. “If you have any project ideas or proposals, please bring them to this meeting,” Langowski said. “If Blandin approves them, they fund them, and small (community) groups carry the projects out. The last few projects went very well. This is a great program.”

Past projects of this initiative included the establishment of the “Elyite” website and the Ten Below co-working business development center. Project categories include, but are not limited to, broadband access, workforce innovation, digital equity and marketing. “The Ely Broadband Coalition continues to work toward completing these goal and needs community input to continue these efforts,” Langowski said.

“These projects, with leadership and support, can move forward to be considered for funding by our steering committee,” he added. New members are always welcome on the steering committee.

For more information, contact Langowski at elyod@ely.mn.us, or call 218-226-5449.

The Ely City Council will attend the gathering as their monthly study session.

More economic development

Ely’s economic development advisor, John Fedo, updated the authority on his monthly activity and highlighted the Trails Task Force. “It is beginning to become more and more of a hub of activity, particularly within the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission,” he said. “The $1 million appropriation for the trailhead here in Ely is continuing to develop.”

The IRRRB is overseeing the awarding of $3 million in trail grants over the next several weeks, according to Fedo. He anticipates additional funding to be awarded to continue the efforts to bring the Mesabi, Taconite and Prospectors Loop trails to the planned trailhead facility on the west end of town.

A trailhead center for all three trails along with adequate parking areas, near the current St. Louis County recycle center is planned for construction, beginning next spring, according to Mayor Chuck Novak.

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