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Like water and oil, except when they’re not
Strange that Best Buy’s Hubert Joly should say “[w]e don’t think government should pick the winners” in applying sales tax criteria for online purchases (“Joly: Web retailers should collect tax,” April 16). If my memory serves me correctly, Best Buy received [a $39 million subsidy] from the city of Richfield to build its corporate headquarters not that many years ago. Seems to me like it won big-time at government expense back then, but is singing a different tune now.
Wayne Martin, Plymouth
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I strongly disagree with Kyle Ackerman’s April 8 commentary “Broadband is not a government obligation.” Business owners and economic development officials know that poor broadband access and low speeds make communities less competitive. The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband ranks Minnesota 23rd in broadband service, and the state is not “above average” nationally, according to the Akamai “State of the Internet” survey. Minnesota can do better.
While Ackerman states that “government-funded broadband” is not needed, his company, XtraTyme, benefited from an innovative public-private partnership in Bird Island, Minn., according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The Greater Minnesota Partnership hopes that these sorts of partnerships can be reproduced across the state. Specifically, communities or the state should be able to build the infrastructure to allow private providers to expand.
An investment in high-quality broadband would add $1 billion to the state’s economy each year, according to data from the Strategic Networks Group. However, it is unclear whether our state’s leaders will support even a modest infrastructure fund to expand broadband access. Greater Minnesota has waited long enough.
Gary Evans, Winona, Minn.
The writer is president of the Greater Minnesota Partnership and former president and CEO of Hiawatha Broadband Communications.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.