(KNSI) – Central Minnesota is benefiting from rural broadband.

Office of Broadband Development Executive Director Bree Mackey says thousands of customers will soon receive service.

“More specifically for the St. Cloud area, we are pleased to say that more than $8.2 million will be invested in Stearns, Sherburne and Benton counties to serve more than 3,100 locations.”

Last week, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced a $100 million investment in the state. Maki says there will be more tours in the future. Internet service providers apply directly for grants.

Maki says that with each new round of Border-to-Border broadband grants, the customers still waiting for service are the furthest away and therefore the most expensive.

“We look at last mile projects and know how far we go from our border to border [program], it’s so hard to get those last miles. So with this particular project, I just want to point out that these are unserved households, farms and businesses and often the most difficult areas to serve.”

In central Minnesota, Melrose Telephone Company took home the largest prize, receiving just under $5 million. Each grant is a 50% match and requires investment from companies or city governments.

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