FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NISSWA, Minn. (Oct. 14, 2019) – RS Fiber Cooperative, Inc. was presented with a Courageous Leadership Award at the 15th annual Blandin Foundation broadband conference, Innovation: Putting Broadband to Work, held last week at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, Minn. The cooperative’s board of directors was honored for its commitment, courage and innovative approach that launched a new broadband cooperative providing fiber optic connectivity to residents in ten communities.

”It was a long and arduous process to create RS Fiber,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement at Blandin Foundation. “Despite many obstacles, the RS Fiber board remains dedicated to the proposition that the fate of region’s population centers is inexorably linked to the fate of its farmers and their farms. Their persistence and commitment inspire me.” Courageous Leadership Awards were created by Blandin Foundation to recognize and celebrate acts of leadership that have significantly contributed to the vibrancy of rural Minnesota communities.

RS Fiber is a community-owned, community-driven network bringing high-speed, low-cost broadband services to more than 2,200 customers in Renville, Sibley, McLeod and Nicollet counties. In recognition of their accomplishments, RS Fiber previously received the League of Minnesota Cities’ “City of Excellence Award” in 2016 for their collaboration in working to bring high-speed broadband Internet to their communities.

“Local leadership was the essence of this project,” said Dave Rieke, broadband champion and former RS Fiber board member. “Broadband access in rural Minnesota is the lifeline to the world. The community knew this, and local leaders became the vehicle to carry forward our shared vision.”

RS Fiber was honored alongside eleven other awardees who all have taken courageous action to bring the benefits of broadband to their communities. Award winners include: City of Windom, the partnership between Cook County and Arrowhead Electric, PCs for People, the partnership between Lac qui Parle County and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services, the late Paul Bergman, City of Monticello, Jan Keogh, Nancy Hoffman, and Gary Evans.

“All of these individuals, organizations and communities knew early on many other rural communities are just now realizing – that broadband access, and the skills to use it, are fundamental for strong economies, leading-edge education and healthcare, and a high quality of life,” said Joselyn. “RS Fiber communities already are seeing significant economic growth, like the medical school coming to Gaylord along with education, telemedicine, and precision agriculture benefits.”

About Blandin Foundation: Blandin Foundation works for vibrant rural Minnesota communities by investing in community leaders and working with partners to expand opportunity for all residents. Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., it is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota. Information on Blandin Foundation grant-making, leadership development programs and public policy initiatives: www.blandinfoundation.org. Information about the Blandin Broadband Communities Program: http://broadband.blandinfoundation.org

(Press released furnished by the Blandin Foundation)