As a county government services manager in Wisconsin, I was often asked, “What has government done for me?”
After explaining the value of roads, health, police, and human services, some replied: “Sure, but I live in the country. I see Hudson and New Richmond getting more than we do.”
For all the wealth in St Croix County, there are pockets where improvements are not always apparent.
That has changed. Wisconsin officials are awarding $100 million to expand broadband, which represents the single-largest investment in access to broadband.
Two projects will utilize a “fiber to the premises” service. One costing $2,130,629 will reach 102 businesses and 1036 residential locations in the city of Glenwood and the villages of Downing and Boyceville, and another costing $804,340 builds service to the Town of River Falls Northeast and reaches 14 businesses and 360 residential locations in the city of River Falls and towns of Kinnickinnic and River Falls.
The funds are in addition to the $78 million in grants that the state has awarded since 2014. Gov. Evers declared 2021 the "Year of Broadband Access" and set aside $100 million of Wisconsin’s American Rescue Plan funding for broadband.
Broadband is crucial in rural areas where there are fewer people who live farther apart. Around 394,000 people lack broadband statewide, and the vast majority live in rural Wisconsin.
Now for those who ask, “What has government done for me?”
You are not forgotten. Broadband is coming to rural St. Croix County.