Blandin grant supports M State, Wadena community tech expo

February 5, 2016
1Stop2EnrollFall square.inddA $10,000 Broadband Innovation Grant from the Blandin Foundation will help connect Minnesota State Community and Technical College students and residents of west central Minnesota with the latest in technology innovations. The grant, part of the Blandin Foundation’s Community Broadband Program, will support the planned What the Tech Expo, with local business and industry invited to display and demonstrate technology on M State’s Wadena Campus. The expo, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 8, is a collaboration with local businesses and area health organizations, along with broadband and energy service providers. Grant funding will allow students in M State’s Network Administration and Security program to build and support a network connecting a variety of Internet-enabled devices and introduce the community to technologies that can improve their lives. “Attendees will have the opportunity to talk with experts and gain hands-on experience in how technology can be used to help improve their daily lives, making them more likely to adopt the technologies,” said Janet Johnson, an instructor in M State’s Network Administration and Security program. She anticipates that the expo may also spark interest in information technology careers. “Rural Minnesota has struggled with finding sufficient employees in the IT industry,” Johnson said. ”This event and equipment will help not only promote use of the latest technologies, but also promote IT careers and provide the latest equipment to a program that is helping address this workforce shortage.” “The expo includes ‘how to’ and ‘what not to do’ training on technologies designed to improve health, home and business,” according to the Blandin grant application submitted by the Wadena Area College Foundation. The foundation and college are partnering in the project with West Central Telephone Association. The expo targets residents of Wadena, Todd, Morrison, Cass and Crow Wing counties and also is open to students at area high schools and Central Lakes College in Brainerd. Lunch will be provided. The Blandin Community Broadband Innovation Grant Program provides matching funds to eligible applicants in rural Minnesota communities for projects that promote access, adoption and use of broadband technologies. The Blandin Foundation, based in Grand Rapids, is engaged in a range of programs designed to help strengthen rural Minnesota communities. Anyone interesting in exhibiting at the What the Tech Expo can contact Johnson at or 218.631.7855.