City of Prinsburg
Prinsburg is a town of about 500 residents, located about 15 miles southwest of Willmar in Kandiyohi County. Arvig provides internet to the city via a newly constructed fiber network. In late summer 2022, construction began on an 8.1-mile city-wide fiber network to serve about 220 structures, or nearly every home and business in the city. Work was completed by late fall, giving residents access to speeds of up to 1Gbps for homes and up to 10Gbps for businesses.
To find a good example of how a roadblock can be turned into a building block, look no farther than Prinsburg, Minnesota.
Prinsburg is a small, rural town in the rolling prairies of central Minnesota. In this close-knit community, family and faith are essential. Prinsburg is home to the K-12 Central Minnesota Christian School and a strong local business community that boasts a local bank, fire station, gas station, restaurant and several well-established companies, including Prinsco, a manufacturing firm specializing in water management technology, and Duininck Inc., a third-generation, family-owned construction company.
Like so many other rural communities, there are unique challenges. Chief among them are growth and retention of the population.
“We all want to grow,” said Mayor Roger Ahrenholz. “Rural areas have a struggle growing.”
Prinsburg already has a strong foundation and many of the pieces a community needs to ensure a vibrant future. Until recently, however, there was one major obstacle in Prinsburg’s path to progress—the lack of a reliable, local internet service provider.
For the past several years, internet service in Prinsburg was unreliable at best. Most residents relied on dial-up, satellite internet and more recently, their cell phone data plans.
“Internet providers have been a source of conversation for several years,” Ahrenholz said. “The existing carriers had been cutting out or bogging down—especially in the afternoon when school got out.”
City leaders worked with the Kandiyohi County Economic Development Commission and found an opportunity. At the time, late 2021, there were millions of dollars in federal and state funding available for broadband development projects, an investment spurred by the nation’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The city applied for American Rescue Plan funding through the local Economic Development Commission, and a grant was awarded.
“Without that I don’t think we could have gotten this project done,” Ahrenholz said.
Then came the search for a service provider. Arvig answered the call, and plans got underway to build a citywide fiber network that would connect residents by late 2022.
“We deferred to Arvig and we’re really happy we have,” Ahrenholz said. “They have been wonderful people to work with.”
“We’re always hoping for growth,” Ahrenholz added. “Secondly, and close to that, is retention, so with broadband coming in we’re thinking that it will help retain some that had been thinking about leaving the community. In this changing world, a solid, reputable type of service is needed, and fiber optic, as we understand it, is the way to go.”
The Prinburg fiber network was made possible by a three-way partnership between Kandiyohi County, the City of Prinsburg and Arvig. The Kandiyohi Board of Commissioners earmarked $330,000 of American Rescue Plan economic stimulus funding for the project. The City of Prinsburg contributed another $45,000 under the same program and an additional $175,000 through a bond. Arvig then committed to funding the project beyond the $550,000 contributed by the city and county.
“The goal with this project was to bring Prinsburg the highest-quality broadband services,” said Mark Birkholz, Director of Customer Operations and Southern Markets at Arvig. “This network will reliably serve residents for years to come, and it just shows the positive things that can happen when you have strong working partnerships between service providers, local leaders and the community.”
So as Prinsburg sets its sights on further growth and development, the future holds promise—and at least one big obstacle in the rear-view mirror.
” conversation about internet will have gone by,” Ahrenholz predicts. “We don’t want to have to be concerned about our service. It’s just going to be a big plus. The school benefits, the businesses benefit and residents that sign up are benefiting from it. It’s overall very positive.”