- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The first state grants in a new broadband Internet expansion program will bolster 17 projects in Minnesota.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the recipients Monday, choosing from among 40 applicants.

Agency officials say the $19.4 million in grants will help connect 6,100 households, 83 community institutions and 150 businesses with faster Internet. The goal is to foster the build-out of higher-speed service to places that now lack it.

Winning applicants will reap awards as small as $105,000 and as big as $5 million. They require some local matching money either through local governments, private businesses or a combination.

Lawmakers will decide this year whether to allocate more money for broadband development. The Legislature set aside $20 million last year.

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