New report documents greater utilization of the Internet by rural Minnesota businesses

umcedacenter_verticallogo.jpgCrookston, Minn. - A new study released by The EDA Center at the University of Minnesota,Crookston finds that 89.7 percent of rural businesses maintain an Internet connection; up from the 66 percent reported in 2004.  And unlike in 2004 when 38.6 percent of rural businesses were still connecting with a dial-up Internet connection, today 96 percent of rural businesses utilize a broadband connection.  The report documents the findings of a study just completed in June 2009 which surveyed 689 businesses across a variety of commercial and industrial sectors throughout rural Minnesota. The study was conducted in collaboration with 8 different Regional Development Commissions, as well as the West Central Initiative Foundation and has a statistical margin of error of + 3.7 percent.

Researchers found that rural businesses are quite active users of the Internet and continue to integrate it into their business operations and strategy.  More than half of all businesses in the study report utilizing their broadband connection for everything from selling goods and services online (56.3%) to interacting with government agencies (69.8%).  Further, business owners report that securing adequate bandwidth is having a significant impact on everything from their overall cost of doing business (49.9%) to increased business sales (49.3%).

Interestingly, 71 percent of businesses in the study reported that the price they pay for their Internet connection was either "very affordable" or "priced about right"; and a wide majority of businesses (85%) reported that the speed of their current Internet connection was adequate to meet their current business needs.  However, only 37 percent of the businesses had confidence that their current Internet connection speed would adequately meet their business needs 24 months from now. Further, 54 percent of the businesses reported that they planned to further increase their use of the Internet in their business within the next 12 months.

Dr. Jack Geller, professor and director of the EDA Center observed, "It is clear from these findings that the Internet; and specifically broadband technology is now an essential component of all businesses regardless of the size or location of the business.  Accordingly, communities, economic developers and broadband providers must collaborate to ensure that businesses will be able to access the bandwidth they need."

A copy of the full report can be downloaded from The EDA Center's website at

The EDA Center at the University of Minnesota, Crookston, is one of over 40 university centers nationwide, supported by the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.  The EDA Center conducts applied research, provides direct technical assistance and delivers educational programs to economic development agencies located in economically-distressed communities throughout Minnesota.

Contact: Jack Geller, director, The EDA Center, 218-281-8248 or 507-381-0720