Independence, MN, Seeks a Decent Broadband Connection  

By:

  • Angelina Panettieri
July 30, 2021

Independence, Minnesota, is a rural town of 35 square miles in Hennepin County, a short 17 miles from bustling downtown Minneapolis. Yet Independence retains its quiet. With no downtown business section but plenty of agriculture and horses, Mayor Marvin Johnson – whose family has lived here since 1864 – likes to refer to it as a magical island: A calm, quiet and peaceful rural community that is close enough to the city should one needs its amenities. But when it comes to distance learning during a pandemic, or working remotely, the 17 miles separating this town from internet access has proven to be too far. The families with school-age children living in Independence found connectivity challenges this past year not just frustrating, but for some, impossible. City leaders fielded countless phone calls from frustrated parents wondering how – and when – they would have the ability to support their children’s learning from home.  

Numbers at a Glance 
Population 3,750 
Single Family Homes 1,800 

By Partnering With Neighbors, Independence Can Find a Way to High Speeds 

With current resources it will take several years to install broadband for their entire community and, after a year of distance learning and remote work, that is not nearly fast enough. Independence is served by The Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission (LMCC), an agency formed by a Joint Powers Agreement between 11 area communities, which oversees the franchise agreement with the cable operator and promotes awareness and use of community television. The LMCC is working with neighboring cities to install broadband, but the city needs supplemental resources to speed up that timeline. Independence is seeking federal support to increase the LMCC’s efforts to extend high-speed internet to all of its residents.   

A Small Community with Great Need 

“We may be a small town of only 3,750 people but the reality is that we have people of all ages living here, and access to internet has become an essential part of life for us all. It is no longer acceptable for some residents to have no access to the internet. So we are looking to partner with our neighbors to work as fast as we can to bring Broadband to all of our homes.” 

Independence Mayor Marvin Johnson

Cities Are Ready to Rebuild with Congress’ Help 

Independence’s broadband story is one of the hundreds across the country. From the smallest to largest communities, every community has an infrastructure story to tell, and NLC’s latest Ready to Rebuild showcases a range of transportation, water, broadband, and workforce projects across the country from communities of all sizes that Congress could support with legislation. While projects are different, the message from local officials was the same: infrastructure is a job worth doing, but in most places, it’s now beyond what the local government can handle on its own. Does that sound familiar?   

Take Action: Highlight Your City and Why You’re #ReadytoRebuild  

Join NLC as we keep calling on Congress to directly invest in local infrastructure and prepare for a better future. Congress is actively negotiating an infrastructure package so now is the time to share your infrastructure priorities with: 

About the Author

Angelina Panettieri

About the Author

Angelina Panettieri is Legislative Director, Information Technology and Communications for NLC, managing telecommunications and technology issues for NLC on Capitol Hill, the FCC & other federal agencies.