Growing prosperity in greater minnesota

Child care bills receive first hearings

Scott Marquardt, Sen. Carla Nelson and Heidi Hagel-Braid testified in support of the legislation.

On Wednesday, the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee heard the two Greater Minnesota child care bills. This was the first action on the GMNP’s child care efforts in either chamber. SF 537, authored by Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) would appropriate $3 million to the six Minnesota Initiative Funds for their continued efforts to help child care providers build sustainable businesses, grow the child care workforce and stabilize the industry. SF 538, authored by Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud), would create a $10 million capital grant program to build new or expand existing child care facilities to increase capacity in the community.

Testifying in support of the two bills were Dan Dorman, executive director of the GMNP; Tim Penny, president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation; Scott Marquardt, vice president of the Southwest Initiative Foundation; and Heidi Hagel-Braid, chief program officer with First Children’s Finance. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce also spoke out in favor of both bills. Stacy Stout, the Chamber’s director of workforce and education policy, highlighted the negative impact that the child care crisis in Greater Minnesota has on businesses’ ability to expand and hire employees. Continue reading

Senate committee holds hearing on BDPI bill

A bill to increase funding for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) Grant Program was heard in the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee on Monday. SF 536, authored by Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault), would provide $5 million in cash from the general fund for the program. We are also pursuing a separate bill that would allocate $20 million in bonding.

BDPI is an economic development program that provides grants to communities for up to 50 percent of the capital costs associated with the public infrastructure to accommodate economic expansion. Nearly 100 Greater Minnesota cities have received BDPI grants since the program’s creation in 2003.

GMNP Executive Director Dan Dorman testified in favor of the bill, noting that BDPI has proven to be a successful economic development tool for Greater Minnesota cities. Shane Zahrt, a lobbyist for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, also testified in support of the bill. Zahrt shared a letter from Two Harbors City Administrator Dan Walker, who cited a BDPI grant as being the catalyst for a Castle Danger Brewery expansion project that has helped revitalize his city’s downtown and bring jobs to the area.

SF 536 was laid over for possible inclusion in a larger omnibus bill.