In our latest MinnPost commentary, Growth & Justice Policy & Projects Director Matt Schmit makes a strong pitch for the 2017 Legislature to “double down” on expansion of broadband and high-speed internet connectivity in Greater Minnesota. He notes how public and philanthropic investments have stimulated local energy and activity in broadband, with dozens of rural communities now engaged in their own evaluation and goal-setting, needs assessments, and feasibility studies. Schmit further noted that a study commissioned by the Blandin Foundation estimated that broadband investment produces a 10-to-1 economic return on investment.
Mario Hernandez and Steve Peterson, two experienced professional leaders with strong expertise in Greater Minnesota public policy, are joining the Growth & Justice Board of Directors. Hernandez grew up in rural St. James, and is a graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University. He won honors as the Community Educator of the Year, by La Prensa de Minnesota (2007), and as one of “25 on the Rise” by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota (2005). He was until recently CEO of the Latino Economic Development Center, a statewide organization, and is currently active as a consultant in many community revitalization efforts on the East Side of St. Paul.
Peterson is an experienced public policy analyst, with eight years experience at the Flaherty & Hood law firm and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (an official G&J partner in the Minnesota Rural Equity Project), where he worked on tax and economic development issues, and frequently published op-eds and commentary in Greater Minnesota news media. Most recently Peterson was a State Senate Tax Committee policy analyst, and was a point person for legislation advancing the Destination Medical Center project in Rochester.
Mario Hernandez Steve Peterson
Awareness continues to grow about Greater Minnesota's transit needs, beyond roads and highways. The St. Cloud Times recently reported on a local “Trains-portation” rally, urging state action and investment to extend the Northstar line from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud and beyond its current terminus in Big Lake. Growth & Justice has long advocated for a balanced transportation funding package that includes ample investment in roads and transit for metro and rural Minnesota.
“The connectivity conundrum in Minnesota and elsewhere boils down to simple market failure, where demand for broadband is significant but spread out, and the supply of provider investment dollars is limited. It’s a completely understandable situation – but it’s not a reality we have to accept.” Matt Schmit, Policy & Projects Director, Growth & Justice.