It’s Time to Pass a Bonding Bill

The Laurentian, Hibbing and Chisholm Area Chambers of Commerce came together to send this letter to our legislative leaders.  It is time to stop with the partisan politics and pass the bonding bill our state needs.

As leaders of chambers of commerce on Minnesota’s Iron Range we see the damage the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shutdown have dealt to our area economy.  As of July 31, 2020, our county’s unemployment rate is 8.6%, up from 4.0% as of July 31, 2019.  Our county’s number of employed people fell from 97,840 to 91,104 over the past year. We need everyone to focus on creating jobs and stimulating our rural economy.

Our elected officials can demonstrate they share this interest in our economic recovery by passing a bonding bill.  This legislation will pour money into public infrastructure projects across the state and help our economy rebound.  The bill means jobs for our workers, purchases from our area suppliers and increased usage of our hotels, restaurants, and other businesses at a time when many desperately need the help.

We understand some elected officials have a deep concern over how Governor Walz is exercising his emergency powers.  However, this is the wrong time to hold up a bonding bill for unrelated political reasons.  Our communities, on the Iron Range and across Minnesota, need the economic stimulus a bonding bill will provide.

If Minnesota passes the currently discussed $1.3 billion bonding bill it will mean huge benefits for our communities.  Here are some of the local projects currently included in the compromise proposal:

  • $9.5 million for the public safety complex in Virginia
  • $1.9 million for a public safety facility in Chisholm
  • $1.8 million for improvements at the International Falls airport
  • $3 million to improve rail and road intersections in Koochiching County
  • $1.3 million for a behavioral health crisis center in St. Louis County
  • $1.8 million for capital improvements to the Correctional Center in Willow River
  • $2.6 million for sewer improvements at the Correctional Center in Togo
  • $3.25 for capital improvements at the Arrowhead Regional Corrections center
  • $1 million for improvement to historic buildings in Eveleth
  • $1.3 million to help construct the second phase of the Hibbing Mine View
  • $5 million for a water system on the East Range
  • $1.5 million for water infrastructure in Buhl
  • $750,000 for sewer improvements in Nashwauk
  • $2 million stabilization ponds in Floodwood
  • $10.7 million for wastewater treatment in Two Harbors
  • $1.3 million to cleanup a closed landfill in Brookston
  • $950,000 towards phase I planning of the Voyageur Country ATV trail
  • $1.1 million to the Trailhead Center in Silver Bay
  • $5.8 million for design and construction at Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park
  • $2 million to mitigate the danger at the Canisteo and Hill Annex Open-Pit Mine
  • $5 million for the Soudan mineshaft rehabilitation

Now is the time for our elected leaders to put politics aside and pass a bonding bill.  In normal years we might be able to afford politicians’ political gamesmanship with the bonding bill, but this year we cannot.  These projects mean jobs and investments in our communities.

On the Iron Range we understand how to focus on priorities and work across party lines to get things done.  As local chambers of commerce we work with each other and with our members to help improve our economy and grow jobs.  Our local legislators know how important this bonding bill is to our area and support it.  We urge those hailing from the rest of the state to put politics aside and do what’s right for Minnesota – pass this bonding bill.

Erik Holmstrom

Laurentian Chamber of Commerce

Shannon Kishel-Roche

Chisholm Area Chamber of Commerce

Shelly Hanson

Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce