By Rep. Jordan Rasmusson
Summer is construction season in Minnesota, but it is more than orange pylons and detours on the roadways. We have a number of local projects important to economic development and infrastructure that are moving forward, too.
Much of this work is taking place in the form of state-and-local partnerships. These partnerships require building relationships across entities to collaborate and deliver positive results to spur economic development and vitality in Otter Tail County.
For example, the city of Elizabeth is receiving a $600,000 state grant to assist with a wastewater project. The funding is being provided via the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Minnesota Small Cities Development Program. I support these appropriations from the Legislature to fund critical infrastructure investments that smaller towns like Elizabeth could not afford without state aid.
The Fergus Falls downtown riverfront project, to be named the Spies Riverfront Park, is also moving forward this summer. This project’s aim is to revitalize the downtown and riverfront area in Fergus Falls. The effort will enhance downtown business development in the city and provide ways to bring community members together in year-round outdoor settings. More than $2.3 million in state funding in addition to generous local donors were critical to this project taking place.
It was my pleasure to attend the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Spies Riverfront Park and to support further efforts to redevelop the riverfront. My predecessor, former Rep. Bud Nornes, and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen worked hard to deliver state bonding funds for this project last year.
We also can look forward to seeing the redevelopment of Hatchery Row in Battle Lake take place after the city was awarded $175,000 through DEED’s Redevelopment Grant Program. Demolition is already taking place to prepare for a transformative makeover that will further enhance Battle Lake’s growing downtown.
I have enjoyed working with DEED Commissioner Steve Grove and appreciate the professional relationship we have developed while bringing these local projects to fruition in Battle Lake and Elizabeth.
I will continue working to advocate for economic development and infrastructure needs in Otter Tail County. One of my current endeavors is as a co-author to H.F. 724, a bill to extend Minnesota’s Historic Tax Credit that is schedule to sunset.
This legislation has significant impacts for our area with 25 Otter Tail County sites on the National Register of Historic Places. Two of those buildings – the former Regional Treatment Center and the River Inn in Fergus Falls – have used this tax credit to help bring significant economic development and housing units to the city. Further development and preservation efforts would be hampered if the tax credit for historic sites were not renewed.
In this case, I am collaborating with a DFL House member to extend this tax credit. The bill has gained bipartisan support in both legislative bodies, and I will continue advocating for its inclusion in a tax bill that may soon be taken up for approval.
While the Legislature plays a key role in funding projects, local leaders make these projects happen. Local elected officials, business leaders, and generous donors are the real champions and catalysts behind each of the projects mentioned above. I thank them for their leadership, creativity, and persistence in moving these projects forward for our communities.