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Blandin to continue work on broadband

Posted by: Jenna Ross Updated: March 26, 2014 - 3:19 PM

The Blandin Foundation announced this week that when it comes to high-speed Internet, work remains.

The Grand Rapids-based organization pledged two more years and $1.5 million in grants for rural broadband -- an issue it's been pushing for a decade.

"Without the Internet, communities cannot survive -- let alone thrive," said Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin's public policy director. "It's the new indispensable infrastructure."

Blandin first focused on broadband in 2003 and has since spent $9.8 million on projects in more than 60 communities. Its trustees decided to continue that work, providing up to $750,000 a year in 2015 and 2016 for matching grants.

Some legislators have proposed a $100 million matching grant program to expand broadband infrastructure. I asked Joselyn how that work would compare to what Blandin's been up to.

"Blandin has never been about laying infrastructure," she said. Instead, the foundation has focused on how communities can best use broadband in areas including healthcare, education and economic development.

"We're in the utilization business," she said.

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