Efforts across the state to build speedier Internet are getting a boost from a new state grant fund.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced Monday $19.4 million in grants to help 17 projects. The money comes from a new matching grant program signed into law last year.
The agency says the money will help 6,095 households, 83 community institutions and 150 businesses in areas of the state that don't have access to Internet with download speeds of at least 10 megabits per second, the state's definition of broadband.
"Just like businesses and homes need power and water to function, they need broadband to function," Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said during a press call Monday. "Broadband isn't just nice -- it's necessary."
The grants range from $105,000 for Otter Tail Telecom -- to help expand fiber services to 47 locations -- to $5 million for the Rock County Broadband Alliance, which plans to bring fiber service to all unserved and underserved locations in the southwestern Minnesota county.
The grants require matching money from local governments or private businesses. Check out a map of the funded projects here.