Lead For America, Land O’Lakes, Inc., the Mayo Clinic, Midwest Dairy and Scoular recently announced the placement of six American Connection Corps (ACC) Fellows in Minnesota.
These Fellows will work to increase broadband access and digital literacy as well as contribute to critical community development initiatives in communities across Minnesota. Lead for Minnesota Fellow Carter Grupp was selected for placement in Otter Tail County to work with the county Community Development Agency (CDA) on broadband access throughout the county.
With support from the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners, Amy Baldwin, Community Development Director for Otter Tail County, applied to host a fellowship in March 2021.
The fellowship comes at a pivotal time when the County is making important investments in broadband development and access. As the selected Fellow, Grupp is not a county employee, rather his position is a two-year contract for service, with Otter Tail County as his host.
Grupp is a recent graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in Political Science. The Lead For Minnesota fellowship interested him because it’s an opportunity for young leaders to initiate innovative solutions to complex challenges.
“Broadband access, digital literacy, and digital equity are becoming increasingly important to our businesses and communities. I look forward to making contributions in these areas to make Otter Tail County a competitive region to raise a family, start a business, and live your best life,” said Grupp.
Grupp began his work in Otter Tail County in August. To learn more about the needs and opportunities in the County, Grupp is initially focused on a ‘listening tour’ with local broadband providers, community leaders, libraries, schools, and businesses.
While Otter Tail County has made progress in closing the gaps in internet service, Baldwin shared there is still work to be done. “The COVID-19 pandemic certainly highlighted why access to broadband is so important for the County’s employers, residents, and visitors for job searching, education, medical appointments, and day-to-day activities, but we knew there was a need to expand access before that.” Otter Tail County ranks number 65 out of 87 counties in the state when measuring broadband speed of 100 mbps (megabits per second) download and 20 mbps upload. The goal set for the state is for every household to be served by 100/20 speeds by 2026.
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