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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875

Posted: Jul 14 2014 2:12PM
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E-Update

Legislative update: Minnesota’s economy is healthy and growing


Dear neighbors,

I hope you and your loved ones are having a terrific summer.

As neighborhoods and communities throughout our state gather for summer festivals, block parties, baseball games and other family-friendly activities, we have good reason to feel optimistic about our future.

Minnesota’s economy is healthy and growing. Unemployment is down, businesses are expanding and we’re fortunate to have our great state featured in the national spotlight for major events like Major League Baseball’s All-Star game this year and the Super Bowl in 2018.

Here are some of the major headlines over the past few weeks that show how Minnesota is becoming an even better state to live, work, raise a family and do business. I’m also sharing details for two upcoming town hall meetings.

Town hall meetings on July 19 and August 16:

I’m pleased to invite you to two upcoming town hall meetings, the first of which takes place this Saturday on July 19. The second meeting takes place on Saturday, August 16. Both meetings will run from 10:00-11:30AM at Woodbury City Hall in the Ash and Birch Room. If you have any questions, please contact me by phone at (651) 296-7807 or by email at rep.joann.ward@house.mn.  

Minnesota ranked sixth best state for business:

According to CNBC’s eighth annual “America’s Top State’s for Business” report, Minnesota is the sixth best state for business in the entire country – a strong improvement from being ranked 13th last year. The rankings cite Minnesota’s “superior quality of life, a vibrant economy and a robust infrastructure” as a few of the major reasons for our success.

Minnesota ranked third best state to make a living:

Forbes recently ranked Minnesota the third best state to make a living, up from being ranked sixth last year due to our “very low unemployment rate and excellent workplace conditions.” Minnesota continues to boast one of the highest numbers of Fortune 500 companies per capita in the country, spread out among a diverse range of sectors. A diverse economy and well-educated workforce are big reasons why our median household income and our quality of life is consistently higher than the national average.

Twin Cities metro has lowest unemployment rate in the country:

Thanks to our talented workforce and strong businesses, we recently learned that the Twin Cities metropolitan area has the lowest unemployment rate of any metropolitan area in the country. With our reputation as a great state to live, work, raise a family and do business, Minnesota’s economy continues to grow and expand prosperity for middle-class families.

Minnesota ranked second for talent pipeline:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently ranked Minnesota second in the nation for our ‘talent pipeline’ – a key metric of the skills and talents of our workforce.

Here is an excerpt from the Chamber’s report:

“Ranked 2nd for its talent pipeline in this year's report, Minnesota is strengthening workforce skills and economic growth by bringing multiple stakeholders to the table to work in partnership.

The state's Governor's Workforce Development Council (GWDC) brings together leaders from the private, public, and education sectors, along with community leaders, to recommend ways to better align the state's workforce skill development with real-world needs.

The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership, part of the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), has also been tasked with leading state efforts to build a more globally competitive workforce. The initiative provides training grants of up to $400,000 to educational institutions throughout the state to build workforce skills training partnerships with private industry.”

The legislature’s investments in education, such as providing all-day Kindergarten for every child, preschool scholarships for low-income families, additional funding tied to rigorous achievement standards and a two-year college tuition freeze, are helping to continue building a talented workforce that can compete with businesses around the world.

Twin Cities metro area showing sturdy growth:

A new report from economic experts at BMO Harris Bank says that Minnesota’s economy continues to grow at a firm pace and continue growing throughout this year. According to the report, the Twin Cities metropolitan area’s sturdy and diverse economy is expected to remain on a solid growth track in the years ahead, due in large part to our region’s wide swatch of service industries.

Todd Senger, Minnesota Regional President of BMO Harris Bank, had this to say:

“Our state and metro area have a lot going for them with our job growth, diversity of industries and the confidence businesses have shown by investing in their operations and people. This report confirms the positive outlook we have seen among businesses and business owners in the last few months, and we fully expect to see the upturn continue as more and more businesses feel the effects of the growth in our area."

Gateway Corridor on fast-track:

The proposed Gateway Corridor, which will link downtown St. Paul with east metro cities like Woodbury and beyond using a combination of federal, state and local funding, was recently fast-tracked by the federal government for review and permitting. It is one of just ten other projects in the entire country to be distinguished for fast track status.

Just last week, the Gateway Corridor Commission voted to reject a more costly light rail train (LRT) option and instead proceed with a more affordable bus-rapid transit (BRT) option. The commission rejected LRT because of its $950 million price tag, which came without an appreciable boost in ridership when compared to BRT, which calls for a $400 million dedicated bus guideway running between Manning Avenue in Woodbury to St. Paul’s Union Depot.

The commission also voted to proceed with a “managed lane” option, which would create a tollway down the center median of Interstate 94 for Gateway buses and passenger vehicles. An environmental study must be completed before any further action is taken on implementing a managed lane option.

This is great news for Woodbury, Maplewood, Oakdale, Landfall and other east metro communities on the route. Expanding transportation options in our region will create jobs and bolster economic development. Check out a recent editorial from the Pioneer Press about the Gateway Corridor:

http://www.twincities.com/opinion/ci_25845120/between-st-paul-and-woodbury-gateway-pioneer-press

Stay in touch:

Please contact me with any questions, ideas or comments. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-7807 or by email at rep.joann.ward@house.mn. I always appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,


JoAnn Ward
State Representative, District 53A

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