A top official from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) visited the Chippewa Valley this week. Bill Northey, the Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conversation was in Cornell, Wisconsin at Chippewa Valley Electric COOP (CVEC) for a special announcement regarding funding for the Broadband ReConnect Program. This broadband grant will help increase e-connectively for rural households in the Chippewa Valley as the USDA is investing $3 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Wisconsin. Ntera, LLC will use the grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 2,044 people, 33 farms and 33 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Chippewa, Rusk, and Taylor counties in Wisconsin.

With the ever-changing technology and need for faster, more reliable services, Chippewa Valley rural communities such as Cornell and New Auburn have seen the advantages of broadband. CCEDC was instrumental in introducing the two Chippewa Valley Cooperatives (CVEC and Citizens Connected) where the joint venture formed Ntera. Ntera’s mission is to provide homes and businesses with leading-edge Internet, Video, and Voice services through a 100% fiber optic network.

Without Broadband rural communities within the Chippewa Valley cannot compete in the rapidly changing knowledge economy. Two Chippewa Valley Cooperatives (CVEC & Citizens Connect) are taking proactive steps to leverage their resources and connectivity to compete with the swiftly growing trend of Smart Cities. The areas that rapidly develop high bandwidth applications for their public safety, health care, schools, businesses, tourists, work at home talent and smart buildings will be the next winners in the economic development arena.