(Big Lake, Minnesota) Business owners and residents in cities outside of the Metropolitan area are asking for more assistance to bring better internet options to their towns. One of those business owners is Zach Barzee, President and Founder of BP Athletics in Big Lake. BP Athletics conducts the majority of its business through online sales. Barzee says slow internet is detrimental to the everyday functions of his company, and believes this could be solved by adding competition to the marketplace, saying, “I don’t feel like they have a lot of incentive to be helpful because they’re our only option here, we don’t have any better options than what they offer.”
Barzee says he does not believe he can hire another employee until he gets better internet service, and would like lawmakers to do more to help. Minnesota does have a broadband assistance program already available through the Department of Employment and Economic Development but Barzee feels more needs to be done.
Some lawmakers are trying to address this issue through the private market. Senator Mary Kiffmeyer held a town hall to stimulate private market interest in her district in order to bring more internet options to her constituents. A number of lawmakers attended including Representatives Erick Lucero, Nick Zerwas, Sondra Erickson, and Senator David Brown, who all relayed that they often hear about this issue from their constituents.
Senator Kiffmeyer says the town hall did stimulate private market interest and that she is working to schedule a meeting with Congressman Tom Emmer to further discuss rural broadband issues.
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