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Sherburne County ARPA Broadband Access Grant Program

Steps

  1. 1. Grant Program Information
  2. 2. Applicant Information
  3. 3. Supporting Documentation
  4. 4. Data Privacy & Applicant Acknowledgements
  • Grant Program Information

    1. SHERBURNE COUNTY AMERICAN RECOVERY PLAN ACT BROADBAND ACCESS GRANT PROGRAM
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    3. BROADBAND ACCESS GRANT PROGRAM GUIDELINES

      The purpose of the Sherburne County Broadband Access Grant Program is to encourage and facilitate necessary investment in broadband projects designed to provide high- speed, reliable, and affordable broadband service to unserved or underserved households and businesses in Sherburne County. The County may award up to $1,500,000 in grants to service providers for eligible projects that will provide service designed to reliably meet or exceed a symmetrical 100 Mbps download and upload speeds or, where symmetrical 100 Mbps speeds are not practicable, 100 Mbps download and at least 20 Mbps upload speeds, along with other requirements set forth in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”). 

       

      The Broadband Access Grant Program will be administered through the County Administrator’s office.  Service provides who have questions or need assistance in completing applications should contact:

       

                  Dan Weber

                  Assistant County Administrator

                  13880 Business Center 

                  Elk River, MN 55330

                  763-765-3007

                   dan.weber@co.sherburne.mn.us

      The County’s Broadband Access Grant Program is intended to take advantage of a unique opportunity to use available funds to address disparities in affordable and reliable broadband access to various communities within the County.  The County will therefore emphasize proposed project that can demonstrate community engagement and support, including additional financial support from local governments and other organizations, and proposed projects that include an affordability component, to address the immediate needs of County residents and businesses that have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    4. SECTION I

      Application Requirements

       

      Grant applications must include the following information to be considered complete.  All applications must be received by 12/31/2021.  Applications that are not considered to be complete on or before that date or that are received after that date will not be approved.  

       

      A.        Project Summary  

      Provide a brief summary of the proposed project.   Include a concise description of the following: 

      • the project location; 
      • the level service (upload and download speeds) to be delivered; 
      • the current level of available service for households and businesses in the project location; 
      • the number of properties that will have access to the service after installation; 
      • any steps to ensure that the service will be affordable for households and businesses in the project location; and 
      • the timeline for project completion.  

       

      B.         Project Description.

      Provide a full description of the proposed project, including who it will serve, how County residents and businesses will benefit and why County grant participation is necessary in order to complete the project.    

      1. Proposed broadband improvements.


      Describe the technology that the project will use to reach the targeted locations in the project area. The description should include technology type, anticipated operating speeds, the total linear feet of fiber infrastructure installed, the number of strands and other relevant infrastructure components.   Also identify whether the improvements will be buried or above ground.

       

      The application should specify that when the project has been completed, the design and installation will conform to standard engineering practices and all applicable federal, state, and local requirements, and that the infrastructure will provide the service levels and speeds stated in the application.

       

       2.  Demonstration of Project Need. 

       

      Pursuant to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Interim Rule on Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (31 CFR Part 35) (the “Interim Rule”), the County may only provide assistance for broadband infrastructure projects when those projects will provide service to unserved or underserved households and businesses.  A household or business is “unserved or underserved” if it is not currently served by a wireline connection that reliably delivers at least 25 Mbps download sped and 3 Mbps of upload speed.   

       

      Describe the unserved and/or underserved areas that the project will serve and the level of service currently available in the project area. Include the following:

       

      • An estimate of the number of unserved and underserved households and businesses that the project will be capable of serving (i.e., locations passed by the project by household/business category).
      • An estimate of the number of unserved and underserved households and businesses that will elect to obtain service from the project. 
      • Any additional information on how the project will help to enable critical activities such as remote school, healthcare and work.

       

      If known, provide a list of the broadband service providers currently serving the proposed project area (if any) and the level of service available, including the download/upload speeds offered by those service providers.  Include all wireline and fixed wireless broadband service providers that cover all or any portion of the proposed project area. 

       

      Provide any known or available information about whether there are any existing agreements or plans by any service provider (including the applicant) to provide any broadband service to the proposed project location.  If so, specify whether the agreements or plans include building a reliable wireline service with minimum speeds of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload within the proposed project area by December 31, 2024. 

       

      3.   Demonstration of Project Eligibility. 

       

      The Interim Rule requires that for any broadband infrastructure project receiving assistance from County ARPA funds, the project must provide a service designed to reliably meet or exceed a symmetrical speed of 100 Mbps download and upload.  In cases where the symmetrical 100/100 Mbps service is not practicable, the project must provide a service designed to reliably meet or exceed a 100 Mbps download speed and between 20 Mbps and 100 Mbps upload speed, and be scalable to a minimum of 100 download speed and 100MBps upload speed. 

       

      Describe in detail the technology and network design that will provide every location in the project area with access to reliable 100 Mbps/100Mbps service. If symmetrical 100/100 Mbps service is not practicable for the proposed project, explain why and describe in detail the technology and network design that will provide every location in the project area with access to a reliable 100/20 Mbps service that will in the future be scalable to 100/100 Mbps. Also provide details about how and when the service will be scaled to 100/100 Mbps.   

       

      For all services, identify whether the speed is based on dedicated or shared bandwidth. The required service descriptions may be illustrated by maps or schematic diagrams, as appropriate.

       

      4.   Demonstration of Grant Need.

       

      Provide information demonstrating that without receiving a grant from the County in some amount, the proposed project would not be installed before December 31, 2024.

       

      5.   Project Mapping.

       

      Provide a map showing the project boundaries the potential properties to be served and the service that will be available after installation (if service may vary by location).  If available, include a link or other electronic file access to a spatial file showing the proposed service areas.  If a spatial file is not available, provide a spreadsheet of address ranges within the proposed project area with the anticipated service levels following installation.  

       

      6.   Affordability and Digital Literacy.

       

      The Interim Rule provides that broadband infrastructure projects receiving assistance from County ARPA funds should incorporate affordability options to meet the immediate needs of unserved and underserved households and businesses.  The application should therefore provide an explanation of ways that the applicant will integrate affordability options into the program design. The application should describe any internet access or digital literacy support to households facing negative economic impacts due to COVID-19.  

       

      Provide an explanation of how the proposed project might facilitate increased affordable broadband access and use through programs, partnerships or retail pricing structure.   By way of example, the applicant may provide a proposed schedule of retail prices for various speed and quality combinations the provider intends to offer, or it may describe any planned discounts and other affordability options intended to make the service available to low-income subscribers.  The applicant may also indicate the planned steps it might take (if any) to increase the percentage of subscribers ordering the broadband service. If discounts will be made available, the applicant should identify the planned length of time for the discount and any plan to fully integrate affordable service into its regular service options.

       

      7.   Community Support Information.

       

      Provide information about any engagement with the City or Township where the project will be located. Identify whether the City or Township has provided any official support for the project, including any financial or other in-kind assistance for the project, such as the contribution of funds, easements, permissions to use publicly owned property or other items of value to assist the project.

       

      Also provide information regarding any active engagement of any individuals, businesses and other community organizations in the planning or marketing of the project. 

       

      8.   Timeline.

       

      Provide a schedule by which the applicant intends to complete the core components of the proposed project. Include key project milestones such as the beginning of construction and the anticipated completion date. 

       

      In order to be eligible for grant funds, all projects must be substantially completed on or before December 31, 2024.

       

      C.         Budget Information and Eligible Expenses.

       

                  1.    Budget and Eligible Expenses.

       

      Provide a description of the applicant’s proposed budget and details of anticipated project costs.  The Application must demonstrate that the requested grant funds will be used for the sole purpose of implementing the proposed broadband project in compliance with this Grant Program and the Interim Rule, and that the grant funds will be used only for eligible expenses.  Eligible costs and expenses will be defined in the grant agreement between the parties identified in Section III(B) and must be or have been incurred between March 3, 2021 and December 31, 2024.  At a minimum, eligible costs and expenses will include the following, as long as such costs relate exclusively to the proposed project:  

       

      • Project planning and pre-engineering that takes place during the eligible period.
      • Costs to obtain construction permits.
      • Construction of facilities, including construction of both “middle mile” and “last mile” infrastructure.
      • Installation and testing of the broadband service.
      • Digital literacy programs and internet adoption support.
      • Integration of affordability options.

       

      2.    Ownership and other Contributing Funds.

       

      Identify the entities that will own and operate the proposed broadband network.  Also identify any participating partners and describe the nature and extent of their participation, including any management role, financial commitment or other contribution to the project for each participating partner.

       

      Identify the source of any project funds to be contributed from any entity other than the applicant, including but not limited to any grant funds, loans or other financial or in-kind assistance to be obtained from any other local government or any state or federal agency.  Specifically identify whether the applicant has or will apply for American Rescue Plan Act funding from any source other than the County.  

       

      3.   Demonstration of the Applicant’s Ability to Complete the Project.

       

      Provide a description of applicant’s history and experience constructing broadband communications facilities in the County and elsewhere. Include information about the financial, technical, and organizational capacity of the applicant and any partners to successfully complete the project within the proposed timeframe, along with information about the applicant’s performance regarding network reliability, on-time construction, investments in facility improvements and customer satisfaction or retention.

    5. SECTION II

      Application Process

       

      A.   Submission Deadline.

       

      Sherburne County will accept applications for Broadband Access Grants beginning 11/03/2021 through 12/31/2021.  Completed applications must be uploaded to a portal available at www.co.sherburne.mn.us no later than 4:00 p.m. central time on 12/31/21.  After that time the application portal will close and incomplete applications will not be considered.  

       

      B.    Multiple Applications.

       

      Applicants may submit multiple applications for separate projects.  Each project should be submitted in a sperate application that fully conforms to the requirements of County’s Broadband Access Grant Program.  

       

      C.    Classification of Application Materials as Public or Private Data.

       

      1.   Certain Data are Private when Application is Submitted.

       

      The information submitted with an application is generally public data.  Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes section 13.591, subd. 1, however, the following data submitted to the County as part of the application are private or nonpublic data until such time as the County may approve a grant award: 

       

      • design, market, and feasibility studies not paid for with public funds; and

       

      • financial information about the business, including:

       

      • credit reports; 
      • financial statements; 
      • net worth calculations; 
      • business plans; 
      • income and expense projections; 
      • balance sheets; 
      • customer lists; and
      • income tax returns. 

       

      2.   Public Data if Application Approved.

       

      Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes section 13.591, subd. 2, if the County approves and application and issues a grant award, the data submitted to the County as part of the application become public data, with the exception of the following, which will remain private or nonpublic: 

      • business plans; 
      • income and expense projections not related to the financial assistance provided; 
      • customer lists; 
      • income tax returns; and 
      • design, market, and feasibility studies not paid for with public funds.

      D.   Supplemental Information. 

      An applicant may request that the County accept supplemental information relating to an application that was otherwise timely filed. The County may request that an applicant submit supplemental or clarifying information, consistent with the application requirements. If received and accepted, supplemental information will be incorporated into the application and evaluated by the County using the criteria set forth in these Guidelines to determine whether the applicant will receive a grant award.

       

      E.     Application Review.

       

      Applications will be initially reviewed by County staff for completeness and project eligibility.  Applications that are deemed to be complete and generally eligible will be scored according to the criteria provided in Section II(G).  Applications meeting the requirements of these Guidelines will be submitted to the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners for a final determination of a potential grant award.  Because there are limited funds available for the County’s Broadband Access Grant Program, a determination that a project application is eligible does not guarantee that a grant award will be made.  The Board of Commissioners may, in its discretion, approve, deny or approve only in part any application submitted to it.  

       

      F.    Coordination with Project Area Local Government.

       

      After County staff has deemed an application to be complete and generally eligible, the County will present the application to the City or Township where the project is located so that the City or Township may consider participating in a grant award.  Matching contributions to the project from the City or Township will be scored according to Section II(G)(3).  Projects that do not receive a contribution from the City or Township will not be eligible for County grant funds under this program.

       

      G.    Application Scoring Criteria.

       

      Completed applications will be scored according to the following criteria (100 points possible):

       

      1.   Demonstration of Project Need and Improvement.   0 to 25 points

       

      Points will be awarded for anticipated broadband improvements to all households and businesses from a project designed to provide high-speed, reliable service to unserved or underserved households or businesses.  The anticipated improvements in broadband speed offerings are from pre-existing broadband service levels to proposed service levels and must meet or exceed the minimum download and upload speeds identified in Section I((B)(3) of these Guidelines. 

      Anticipated Broadband Improvements Scoring Table

       

      # of Passings

      Speed After Build:

      100/20

      100/100

      1-20

      Points Awarded:

      5

      10

      21-50

       

      10

      15

      51-250

       

       

       

      15

      20

      250+

       

      20

      25

       

       

      2.   Percent of Project Costs Requested.   0 to 25 points

       

      Points will be awarded based on the portion of the project costs the applicant is seeking to fund through public grants.  Applicant’s investment of its own funds will result in a higher application score for this category.

       

      Grant Funding Request Amount Scoring Table

       

      Percent of eligible project costs requested

      Points

      15% or less

      25

      16 to 30%

      15

      31 to 40%

      10

      41 to 50%

      5

      51 to 100%

      0

       

       

      3.    Local Contribution.  25 points

       

      An application will receive credit if the project has a commitment for a financial contribution from the City or Township where the project is located.  In order to receive points, the City or Township must agree to fund a minimum of 50% of the Applicant’s total grant request, up to a maximum of the lesser of $75,000 or 50% of the City or Township’s APRA Funds.  

       

       

      The following are examples of the required local contribution to the grant request:

       

      • For a project requesting $80,000 in grant funds, if a City or Township has received $100,000 in ARPA Funds, the City or Township must agree to contribute $40,000 to the grant request.  (50% of the total request.)

       

      • For a project requesting $150,000 in grant funds, if a City or Township has received $100,000 in ARPA Funds, the City or Township must agree to contribute $50,000 to the grant request.  (50% of the City or Township’s ARPA Funds.)

       

      If a City or Township declines to contribute ARPA Funds to a proposed project, the application shall be deemed ineligible for County grant funds.   

       

      4.    Affordability.  5 points

       

      An application that integrates one or more affordability options will receive credit.

       

      5.     Last-mile connection.  5 points

       

      An application proposing to invest in a physical broadband network that provides last-mile connections will receive credit.

       

      6.    Existing agreement to build a broadband service.  5 points 

       

      An application that affirmatively demonstrates that there are no existing agreements or plans by any provider (including applicant) to build reliable wireline service with minimum speeds of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload within the project area will receive credit.

       

      7.    Broadband service for critical activities.  5 points

       

      An application demonstrating that it will enable critical activities such as remote school, healthcare and work by providing high-speed, reliable and affordable broadband service will receive credit.

       

      8.    Applicant capacity and performance.  5 points

       

      An application that demonstrates the financial, technical, and operational capacity and experience to successfully complete the project in the proposed timeframe will receive credit.

    6. SECTION III

      GRANT AWARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS

      A.    Right to Modify or Reject Requests.

      Sherburne County reserves the right to deny any application or modify and approve a request only in part.  In making an award decision, the County will prioritize the highest scoring projects and will emphasize projects that provide the greatest public benefit for the amount of grant assistance requested, as determined by the County.  The County Board‘s decision on whether to approve a Broadband Access Grant and the amount of the grant award to be issued shall be final.  


      B.    Grant Agreement Terms.

      Each applicant that receives a grant award must enter into a grant agreement with the County governing the terms and conditions for use of the grant funds.  A grant award is not final until the applicant has executed and returned the grant agreement.  Failure to return a signed grant agreement within 30 days after issuance may result in cancellation of an award redistribution of grant funds to other projects.  

      The grant agreement will specify the amount of the grant award, the eligible uses for grant funds, the requirements for completion of the project, including project milestones and deadlines, and any requirements for affordability options identified in the approved application.  The grant agreement will require the applicant to comply with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, and the requirements of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Interim Rule and these guidelines. Applicants will be required to pay wages at or above the County’s minimum livable wage standards for labor used in the installation of the project infrastructure.   For purposes of this requirement, the minimum wage standards shall be an hourly wage at or above the living wage established by MIT for Sherburne County (available at: https://livingwage.mit.edu/counties/27141).

      In addition, the applicant will be required to agree to the following as a condition of receiving a grant award:

          Applicant must provide the County with a GIS map of all of applicant’s fiber lines located within the County.

          Applicant must provide the County with parcel level mapping of applicant’s customers, along with updates when requested by the County through December 31, 2024.

          No later than 10 years after the grant award is issued, applicant must make any conduit installed as part of the project available to other broadband providers through lease, license or other terms to be determined by the applicant. 

      Any failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the grant agreement may result in cancellation of the award and may require repayment of any grant funds provided.  


    7. Reporting

      Businesses owners receiving grant funds must sign an agreement form acknowledging that the business will use the grant funds only for eligible costs and expenses not already covered by other Federal, State or Local funds and agreeing to provide a report to the County on the use of the grant funds.  The County will require business owners to provide proof that grant funds were used only for eligible costs and expenses.  

      Please note:  Failure to supply the proper reporting documentation may result in the applicant being required to return the grant funds to the County and will disqualify the applicant from receiving any and all future Sherburne County Business Recovery Grants or other economic assistance. 

    8. Minimum Requirements

      Please review and complete the entire application prior to submittal. An incomplete application will be deemed ineligible.