David Ross: Our shared voice at the CapitolRegister for Duluth and St. Louis County Capitol Days (March 3-4) through Feb. 26.
By: David Ross, Budgeteer News
Bold and ambitious initiatives bring out the best in individuals as well as the best from a community. Duluth and St. Louis County at the Capitol is such an initiative. I enjoy the quote by R. Buckminster Fuller: “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”
We have the opportunity to be architects of Duluth’s future by advocating at the Minnesota State Legislature for state funding support for our region’s construction of public building projects.
Our region’s needs are many. The state’s resources are inordinately limited. This is our shared challenge.
The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s leadership, along with other community leaders, is embracing the challenge of ensuring state senators, state representatives, and the governor are fully aware of our region’s funding needs.
Fortunately, approximately 500 community members from our region will help us deliver our message to these elected officials. We will descend on the Capitol and the Legislature March 3-4. This ambitious mobilization is being orchestrated within our Duluth and St. Louis County at the Capitol initiative.
We will advocate for state support to assist in funding these needed building projects: Lake Superior College’s Health and Science Center, the Duluth International Airport terminal, the Northern Lights Express high-speed rail project, the city of Duluth’s sanitary sewer overflow facility, UMD’s American Indian Learning Resource Center, the Duluth Children’s Museum, WLSSD’s Polk Street pump station and sanitary overflow storage project and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s infrastructure improvements.
Our region’s overall state funding request for these eight proposed projects is $68 million. These construction projects would generate needed jobs and investment within our region. Additionally, the projects could begin at an ideal time: interest rates are low and competition amongst contractors is fierce, resulting in low bids for the projects. Building material costs are also low.
Earlier this week, the Minnesota Senate easily passed a bill approving a $1 billion construction projects package. Next week, the Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to similarly approve a bill approving a construction project package of equal size. Gov. Tim Pawlenty will have a large impact on determining what public construction projects are ultimately approved and signed into law this year. Fortunately, those of us involved in Duluth and St. Louis County at the Capitol will meet directly with Pawlenty when he gives the keynote address at our breakfast scheduled for March 4 at the St. Paul Hotel Ballroom.
Our gathering at the Capitol is a bold and ambitious effort. Our request for $68 million of state funding is a bold request. Yet, passivity will not drive Duluth to the fulfillment of its goals. Thus, we are actively and unapologetically presenting our case for state funding.
Representatives from the local media plan to report on our time at the Capitol. They will inform you of the impact we make on Pawlenty and the state representatives and senators. We will work hard to increase the likelihood that the news they report is good news for our beloved city and region.
David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751 or firstname.lastname@example.org.