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$57 million sought for statewide economic development boost

Keeping Minnesota’s economy strong requires state investment to help businesses expand and create new jobs, and to reinvigorate cities with municipal redevelopment projects, among other things, says Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL-Spring Lake Park).

She sponsors HF819, which would spend $56.7 million during the 2022-23 biennium on such projects.

“This would fund core programs of the Department of Employment and Economic Development that support business development and job creation in communities all across the state,” Koegel said. The department would award grants to eligible businesses.

It was held over Wednesday by the House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee for possible omnibus bill inclusion. There is no Senate companion.

Redevelopment grants and demolition loans

The bill would appropriate $16 million from the General Fund for redevelopment grants to help local governments demolish and redevelop blighted properties.

Redeveloping previously developed sites, where there are often dilapidated structures, inadequate adjacent infrastructure and environmental contamination, is more complex and extraordinarily expensive compared to undeveloped parcels, said Scott Hickok, Fridley community development director.

He said DEED funding was crucial in helping the city attract a developer to demolish and redevelop the highly contaminated 122-acre Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant site and turn it into the Northern Stacks development.

“Developers would tell us that this site was too expensive to develop even if they got the land for free,” he said.

Minnesota Job Creation Fund

Another $16 million would go into the Minnesota Job Creation Fund to distribute to new business ventures creating at least 10 new full-time employee positions within two years of getting a grant, and meeting other statutory conditions.

Minnesota Investment Fund

The Minnesota Investment Fund would receive $24.7 million to create new jobs, maintain existing employment, or for business start-up, expansion and retention.

Dollars would be distributed to cities, counties, townships, certain development authorities and recognized Indian tribal governments who could then provide loans to businesses meeting requirements.

Up to 3.5% of each fund appropriation could be used for administrative expenses, of which $50,000 each year would be for outreach and technical assistance for businesses owned by minorities, veterans, women or persons with a disability.

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