Greater Minnesota

Public tool charts internet speeds

A federal report issued two years ago concluded that internet connectivity is "fundamental for economic development, innovation, advancements in technology, workforce readiness, and an improved quality of life." In a cover letter to the report, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, "Reliable and affordable high-speed internet connectivity will transform rural America as a key catalyst for prosperity."

The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development recently issued a new benchmarking tool at that lets Minnesotans test, map and report broadband internet speeds across the state.

The office "is charged by law with measuring and monitoring broadband internet access levels throughout the state," said Shawntera Hardy, commissioner of the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), which oversees the office. "This tool will increase our understanding of the consumer experience to ensure we are making smart investments."

Danna MacKenzie, executive director of the broadband office, said Minnesotans are growing increasingly dependent on internet service, and will help identify areas that consumers think need a boost.

The tool will generate public maps and other information that is provided annually to the governor and Legislature, DEED said in a release.

Dan Browning


Fix-up coming for Chateau Theater

The historic Chateau Theater in downtown Rochester would get a million-dollar face-lift under a City Council plan approved last week.

The theater, built in 1927 and shuttered in 2015, would be restored for general use.

Its location on a pedestrian plaza that connects to the Mayo Clinic made it a target for city officials when its private owner put it up for sale. The city eventually paid $6 million for the building, with the help of $500,000 from Mayo, and will use state funds made available through the Destination Medical Center plan to pay for its renovation.

The city might not have bought the theater if it hadn't been for the DMC project, a $5.6 billion, 20-year plan that mixes public dollars with private investment to grow Rochester and remake the Mayo campus.

Chateau renovations could begin as soon as December and will likely finish next summer. Benike Construction was awarded the $1.1 million contract after submitting the lowest bid for the work, which includes a new roof, minor lighting and HVAC repairs and removing a second-floor balcony and escalator.

The renovation plan goes before the DMC board for final approval this week.

Matt mckinney