Meeker Cooperative's big move to making its Vibrant Broadband service available to its customers throughout the county received praise Thursday from Miinnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
The governor attended a "ribbon cutting" ceremony at the cooperative's headquarters in Litchfield during which he and other speakers said that internet connectivity today is as important as electricity was 80-some years ago when rural electric cooperatives began supplying that service.
Meeker Cooperative CEO Tim Mergen said the cooperative began looking at the broadband project back in 2016, and credited the board of directors for backing it.
"They're the ones that took the big risk to go ahead and say, 'yeah, let's go ahead and move this project forward,'" Mergen said. "They did what the board of directors did 84 years ago when the co-op was formed to bring electricity out to the area we now serve electricity to. it was a great big leap of faith then, it was a leap of faith now."
But reliance on internet connectivity in virtually every aspect of life makes Meeker Cooperative's investment in the service no less important than electricity was back then, Mergen said.
He told the crowd of co-op members, employees and dignitaries that when President Franklin Roosevelt dedicated a new electric cooperative on Aug. 11, 1938, in Barnesville, Georgia, he told the assembled crowed, "Electricity is a modern necessity of life and ought to be found in every village, every home, and on every farm in every part of the United States. Now, 81 years later, let's simply put the words, broadband internet in for electricity. Broadband internet is a modern necessity of life and ought to be found in every village, every home, and on every farm in every part of the United States.
"Sort of remarkable how 81 years later those same exact words could be used to describe the need for high speed internet," Mergen said. "It's holding true back then, it's holding true now."