Lt. Governor announces new bipartisan effort to move Minnesota to 50% renewables by 2030

From the Department of Commerce…

Commissioner Mike Rothman joined Lt. Governor Tina Smith on Feb. 27 to announce a new bipartisan effort to increase Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Standard from 25% by 2025 to 50% by 2030. Minnesota is already on track to surpass the current goals set by the bipartisan Next Generation Energy Act, which has moved Minnesota to more than 21 percent renewable energy. The new standard—supported by both Democrats and Republicans—would be good for Minnesota’s environment, health, and economy. The bipartisan bill to advance this new standard is being authored in the Minnesota Senate by Sen. Nick Frentz and Sen. Karin Housley, and in the Minnesota House by Rep. Erin Maye Quade and Rep. Joe Schomacker. The bill was promoted Monday at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea by a group that included the Lt. Governor, Rothman, Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine, and legislators. Riverland prepares students for careers in renewable energy.

Read more.

Social Media: What’s trending? A Minnesota perspective

Minnesota Business recently interviewed a number of young entrepreneurs who focus on social media. It’s interesting to learn from their experience

From Luke Riordan, founder and CEO of DAYTA

What’s new in the social media marketing industry? What’s trending?
Video advertising is very trendy and exciting right now. If you’re on Facebook, for example, the videos play automatically when you scroll by them on your feed. They are very inexpensive for companies to make and run, and have worked wonders for clients.

From Tena Pettis, owner and founder of tena.cious

What about the future of social media keeps you up at night?
In the short term, staying on top of an ever-changing industry and finding ways to simplify processes takes up a lot of time. Oftentimes clients want to jump on board with a new social media outlet as soon as it comes out, but that isn’t often the best way. Long term, the fact that one day these social media tools may just not exist is a daunting thought. There may be a day when Facebook isn’t around anymore, and planning for that is tricky, because you really can’t predict those things.

From Martha McCarthy co-founder and CEO of The Social Lights

MNBIZ: What’s new in social media these days?
MCCARTHY: There’s been a lot of change even since we started The Social Lights. Ad targeting capabilities are getting really interesting right now. This technology allows companies to collect and refine data to be informed about who their customers are. There are also cool new ways of blending the physical and digital using geo-locating technology, which has all kinds of uses for brands and companies.

LqP benefits from brain gain – in part due to broadband

John Deere’s The Furrow magazine recently highlighted Ben Winchster’s concept of the brain gain – the idea that while young people might leave their rural communities, slightly order folks (ages 30-49) return. LqP is featured!  

One place representing the demographic shift is Minnesota’s Lac qui Parle County. The entire county has only 7,000 people; the county seat, Madison, just 1,500. Pam Lehmann, the county’s economic development director, says, “It’s not just rural. It’s extremely rural.” Residents here are about three hours from any metropolitan area, and though new residents say that has its challenges — healthcare and childcare are two most mentioned — the advantages are overwhelming: Good schools. Neighbors who know you. Security. Peace and quiet. Nature and beauty.

Those 30- 49-year-olds moving are not coming for jobs. They’re coming for quality of life, says Karla Perkins. She grew up here on a farm, went off with to the big city with her husband, Jerrad, and knows that was the right thing to do. “You have to go away to get some experience,” she says. “I don’t think you appreciate it until you’re gone.” After years in the city, they came back. “We were just sick of it,” says Karla, who used to drive 45 minutes in traffic to get to work. “But here, if I have a long drive, think of what I have. It’s all country. It’s all beautiful. It’s all enjoyable.”

In the city, you’re lucky to know your neighbor. In the country, you know everyone. And, everyone knows you. Karla relearned the advantage of that shortly after the couple moved back and Jerrad was called up through the National Guard to serve in Iraq. Karla was pregnant with twins. “He was gone and I was alone,” she says. “I honestly don’t know how we would have made it. Everyone here knows your situation, and they’re looking out for you.”

Brett and Rose Buer both grew up on farms, left for the city, then returned. Brett started his own business as a machinist and welder, and Rose works from home as a software engineer. She has a competitive advantage that even larger cities don’t offer. Despite their isolation and low population, residents in Lac qui Parle County are in a hotbed of fiber optics with Internet speeds that are blazingly fast. Top upload and download speeds are an incredible 300 megabytes per second. Plans are to be at 1 gigabyte within five years.

“If we don’t have true broadband, we will disappear,” says Lehmann. “The younger generation will not be tolerant of not having that.”

Pam Lehmann leaves LqP EDA to find new way to help businesses grow

After eight years of dedicated service, Pamela G. Lehmann has made the decision to leave her position as the Executive Director of the Lac qui Parle County Economic Development Authority (LqP EDA) and begin serving small companies and individuals in a new capacity by starting her own business offering contracted services for local and distant clientele.

Through partnerships with local providers and millions of dollars in federal funding, Lehmann has put Lac qui Parle County on the map for its world class broadband access.  But after working with local businesses, Pam says that access is not enough.  Businesses need training and support to optimize the use of this network.  By leaving the LqP EDA, Pam Lehmann feels she will be better able to offer the practical services needed to help local businesses grow.

Lehmann says she has seen a great need for digital enhancement for our small local businesses over the past several years and limited access to resources at the scale needed by rural entrepreneurs and businesses.  In this new venture, she plans to offer startup, project-based and ongoing contracts for those needing assistance with bookkeeping/recordkeeping, website design/maintenance, social media/digital marketing, human resources/staff training, inventory management, budgeting/finance, administrative support and other services as requested.  In addition, Pam will be available for grant writing, meeting facilitation, training, and sales/marketing opportunities.

A life-long resident of Lac qui Parle County, Pam Lehmann has embraced her leadership role with the LqP EDA and has taken the fledgling entity from its infancy to one renowned for its innovation and dedication by state, national and international groups including GOOGLE, the International FTTH Council, The International Economic Development Council, Congressman Collin Peterson, Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Bush Foundation, Minnesota Rural Partners, the Blandin Foundation plus many others in economic development and the technology industry.  She notes “I am very proud of the work we have initiated.  We have proactively focused on community and economic development aimed toward improving opportunities for businesses and residents alike.  Our ultimate goal has always been to make this county a great place to live, work and play for today and for future generations.”  Lehmann will continue in her role at the LqP EDA until the middle of February and states “I am confident the LqP EDA Board of Directors will find an excellent replacement, they will continue to support the varied economic development needs of our rural county and the work we have started will continue to enhance the economic vitality for local businesses of Lac qui Parle County for decades to come.”

As the Executive Director for the LqP EDA, Lehmann has launched several successful long-term projects that will have lasting impact on Lac qui Parle County and the region, including:  a multi-district Junior Achievement Program for the youth in our schools touching every student from Kindergarten through 6th Grade; a mobile computer lab that brings digital learning opportunities to six communities each week with the dedicated help of Mary Quick on the LqP Computer Commuter; and most significantly the multi-million dollar ARRA stimulus project that created a unique public-private partnership that delivers fiber optic broadband service throughout Lac qui Parle County “making it one of the leading technology counties in the state” of Minnesota and putting our small rural county on the global map!

Pam Lehmann is excited to be pursuing this new business opportunity and says “I will always remember my time at the LqP EDA with great pride and I will continue to be a strong advocate for local and regional economic development efforts.”

A heads up for Frontier customers in Lac qui Parle County interested in changing providers

Farmers and LqP County have partnered to bring  FTTP
(Fiber-to-the-Premise) technology to local residents and businesses but some locals have run into issues with extricating themselves from their current Internet providers. To help those people, Farmers Mutual has sent the following information to homes around Lac qui Parle County.


Attention Frontier Customers:frontier

A one-time bill insert will be sent to all Frontier customers with “Digital Phone” voice service term agreements. This also includes “Digital Phone” voice service bundled with High Speed Internet service (“HSI”). It will provide supplemental information  to customers regarding details of their term agreement.

The content of this bill insert will:

  • Inform customers that Frontier records show that they are under a term agreement.
  • State the time period of their term agreement on their monthly bill.
  • Clarify that an early termination fee will apply if they exit the agreement prior to the expiration date unless they opt out of the term as described below.
  • Clarify that their term agreement may have an auto-renewal clause which will renew the agreement upon expiration and explain how to cancel an auto-renewal clause.

If customers do not understand or do not agree with the conditions of their term agreements, they should Call Frontier.

Customers will have four options, none of which will incur an Early Termination Fee (ETF):   

  1. Terminate existing term agreement and move to a month-to-month service;

  2. Switch to a different service with Frontier;

  3. Terminate all service with Frontier; or

  4. Switch service to another carrier. Customers receiving Digital Phone service bundled with HSI will have the option of also switching or terminating HIS without incurring an ETF.

LqP County a good place for brain gain with FTTH

Arron Brown recently wrote a thoughtful piece on Brain Gain for the Blandin Foundation Outposts. The brain gain refers to the reserve migration many communities are seeing these days in rural Minnesota. Young people leave their hometowns for education and first jobs – but they are returning once they have families. They don’t move to town for a job; they move to town for the lifestyle.


We’ve been hearing about Brain Gain for a couple of years now – in fact, Lac qui Parle County factoring highly in an article on brain gain on Minnesota Public Radio. Arron Brown does a nice job with her perspective and provides added good new to this happy trend – brain gainers are looking for places with technology. That’s puts LqP County in a good place with our fiber connectivity. …


“We are seeing for the first time in the history of the world that ‘location, location, location’ is becoming less and less important,” said Bell from his office in New York. “It’s never unimportant, but the ability to transact almost anything instantaneously online has all kinds of disruptive impacts on the world, but offers rural areas a hope they’ve never seen before. It will take people awhile to realize how powerful this opportunity is. It’s not like a highway that someone builds to your town, but something you have to build yourself.”

For communities that have depended on natural resources, whether that’s farming, logging or mining, it can be difficult to realize that potential, Bell said.

“You are constructing a new economy on top of the old one,” said Bell. “You don’t want to get rid of the old one, but how do you produce another level? You have to start from square one. You have to have infrastructure. You have to have people who know how to use that infrastructure to create knowledge and value.”

Bell and his co-authors find that high-speed internet connectivity is a cornerstone in the attraction of returning professionals, something Winchester echoes after his research for U of M Extension Service.

“People almost expect to have [broadband internet],” said Winchester. “They’re surprised not to have it. It’s not something people search and hunt for; it’s something they expect to be there.”

Winchester said rural areas where high speed internet is available to the home see significant telecommuting opportunities from all over the country.

NTCA Unveils New Ad Campaign Touting Rural Broadband Providers’ Community-Based Solutions

From our friends at NTCA

Print, digital ads focus on rural providers’ 60-plus-year commitment to moving rural communities forward with advanced communications 

Arlington, Va. (July 9, 2014)—NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association this week unveiled a new advertising campaign touting rural telecommunications providers’ long and successful history of solving the challenges of distance and density in deploying networks and delivering quality, affordable services to the country’s most rural and remote communities. 

The Washington, D.C.-focused advertising campaign includes digital, print and radio ads and extends through the end of the year. Ad placements began this week with digital ads in the Technology Policy section of and a print placement in today’s issue of Politico. Additional ads will appear in Politico and on and throughout the months of July and September. For a look at the first ad in the series, visit the NTCA website. 

NTCA is launching the campaign to build awareness of rural broadband providers’ extraordinary efforts to deploy advanced networks that make rural markets vibrant places to live, work, raise a family and educate rural children. As solution providers and entrepreneurs serving areas long ago left behind by larger providers, rural broadband providers have been and remain singularly focused on ensuring that millions of households and businesses in the most sparsely populated pockets of the country benefit and share in the prosperity that comes with modern telecommunications technology. 

“As policymakers in Washington consider who to turn to as we continue to tackle the rural broadband challenge, we want to make sure they recognize that community-based telecommunications providers have been the solution for rural America all along,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “For decades, rural telcos have offered the most effective answer for rural communications problems by leveraging their own entrepreneurial spirit, their technical know-how, their commitment to community and federal partnerships that were effective in promoting investment. If they can continue to have access to the tools to do so, these community-based providers will remain the most effective answer to solve such problems in a broadband world.” 

For regular updates on the campaign, follow NTCA on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn.