Minnesota mayors: Legislature should restore funding for proven job creation tools 

Provided by Economic Development Association of Minnesota

Just last month, Smiths Medical opened its new $23 million global headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota. Along with moving more than 400 current employees to the new location, Smiths Medical created 162 additional jobs with an average wage of nearly $45 an hour (approximately $90,000 a year). To help make the move and expansion happen, the State of Minnesota provided the company a total of $1.8 million in financing from the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund. This modest assistance generated a nearly 13-to-1 return on investment in addition to the ongoing benefit of 162 new jobs in the west metro.

This experience is not unique. In 2015 alone, Minnesota Investment Fund loans resulted in more than 1,700 jobs and attracted $1.4 billion in private capital to communities across the state. Similarly, the Job Creation Fund leveraged $28 million in state funding to generate $596 million in private investments from last year.

And the investment is felt statewide with approximately 50 percent of projects located in Greater Minnesota. In recent years, these funds supported the creation of 160 new jobs at Jostens in Owatonna, 100 new jobs at Axis Clinicals in Dilworth, 150 new jobs at Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth, 143 new jobs at FAST Manufacturing in Windom, 100 new jobs at Sil-Pro in Delano, 40 new jobs at Snobear in Isanti and 330 new jobs at Comcast in St. Paul. These projects show how the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund strengthen our communities and working families.

Despite the positive track record of these programs and having received national recognition for excellence in capital access from the Council on Development Finance Agencies, the Minnesota Legislature chose to cut funding for the Minnesota Investment fund by 66 percent and the Job Creation Fund by 90 percent in the recent 2016 Session.

We urge the Legislature to restore these cuts if a Special Session is called by Governor Dayton. These cuts jeopardize the ability of Minnesota communities to attract and retain growing businesses and good jobs in the coming years.

The Legislature’s decision to cut the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund makes even less sense considering the state’s $900 million budget surplus. These relatively modest incentive programs deliver a more than 20-to-1 return on investment, annually generate over $1 billion in private investment, and support the creation of thousands of good jobs. These benefits suggest the programs more than pay for themselves. With a budget surplus, there should be little reason to cut funding for the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund.

When the next Shutterfly, Anderson Windows, Arctic Cat, Hearth and Home Technologies, Talon Innovation, or Toro Company is weighing whether to expand or add jobs here or somewhere else, we need the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund to help balance the playing field. Let’s not put Minnesota communities at a disadvantage. The Legislature should restore funding for these proven job creation programs during the Special Session.

Mayor George Wimmer, Isanti

Mayor Paul Whitcomb, Princeton

Mayor Eric Peterson, Wyoming 

  Mayor Brad Gunderson, Sauk Rapids 

Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland, Apple Valley 

Mayor James Hovland, Edina 

Mayor Emily Larson, Duluth 

Mayor Matt Little, Lakeville 

Mayor Kelli Slavik, Plymouth 

Mayor Nora Slawik, Maplewood 

Mayor Mark Steffenson, Maple Grove 

Mayor Jessica Stockamp, Otsego 

Mayor George Tourville, Inver Grove Heights 

Mayor Del Rae Williams, Moorhead