Bigger, Better Broadband in Bemidji & Beyond

A number 8 ranking by PCMag as one of the best places for remote work in 2021 should be no surprise to those familiar with the Bemidji, MN region. Its member-owned, broadband provider, Paul Bunyan Communications,, was one of the first U.S. operators to deploy fiber to the home (FTTH). By 2014 all of its members in its entire 5,500 square mile area (5,000 square miles at the time) had access to its FTTH network.

And as important as robust broadband is, a high-speed connection to the Internet only accounts for 20% of PCMag’s scoring for what makes a place desirable. Quality of life factors, such as local arts & entertainment, housing costs, health, and attractiveness, make up the other 80% of PCMag’s criteria.  PCMag’s summary of why they chose Bemidji, reinforces the message of Greater Bemidji, the region’s economic development agency.

Dave Hengel, Executive Director of Greater Bemidji, explains that their formula for economic development is about having,

“The right size, the right amenities, the right broadband to really appeal to a broad base of people.”

Paul Bunyan and Greater Bemidji are close partners in the quest to attract companies and people to the outdoor lifestyle afforded by the Northern Minnesota woods and lakes. In the above interview, Gary Johnson, CEO of PBC, and Dave Hengel, Executive Director of Greater Bemidji, discuss, among other things, the importance of robust connections, their efforts to promote the area, and the meaning of lumberjack chic.

Interview Highlights

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