You may not see a lot of big shiny buildings, but don’t let that fool you, there is a great deal of technological expertise and innovation under the radar (and flowing in ones and zeros under the pavement) here. Thanks to the broadband infrastructure throughout much of the region, you’ll find engineering firms, software designers, financial services, high-tech agriculture, and state-of-the-art telemedicine among the thriving technology businesses. Perhaps the relaxing, simpler lifestyle here provides a better atmosphere for creating and innovating?

Cooperative Network Services, LLC, (CNS) was formed in 2010 by 15 Minnesota cooperative telephone com¬panies. These companies realized that in order to stay competitive in the global telecommunications market, they needed to find ways to streamline their businesses. CNS provides a wide range of services to its owners and the telecommunications industry at large, including TDM and Ethernet transport, wholesale Internet, ASR assistance, data network consulting, network coordination and engineering services. The list of services offered continues to grow.
One of the founding companies, West Central Telephone, located in Wadena County in West Central Minnesota, recognized the value this firm could bring to a community, and searched for creative ways to recruit the company to the region. It offered CNS immediately available office space in its newly remodeled building site in Menahga, and agreed to build an addition to accommodate the group as the company grew. It also offered to share administrative and technical support staff until the company became self-sufficient. Perhaps most importantly, It had the fiber optic infrastructure needed to support the high speed data services required by the company.

Jason Dale, CEO of CNS, had predicted that within a year they would have 8-10 full- time employees; slightly more than a year later, they had 17 full-time employees along with five part-time and one contract employee. The engineering firm has been so successful that as of 2012 they’d attracted 4 additional cooper¬atives for a total of 19 cooperative telephone company owners, and a total of 25 employees.
Dale reports that, “We’re very happy to be here in the beautiful lakes and pines of Menahga. The town has been welcoming and supportive, and the safe and tranquil small-town atmosphere enables us to focus our energies on succeeding in our business.”