Making the Case for the Reif Center and Bemidji State University

In early October the Senate Capital Investment Committee visited the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids and heard its bonding request for $3.9 million to expand and improve this great Northern Minnesota regional facility.

The Reif Center is often referred to as the ‘front porch’ of Grand Rapids. As a resident of Grand Rapids, I have a personal connection with this 30-year old center. My family and I have attended many performances there but it’s not just for Grand Rapids residents. In fact nearly 40 percent of patrons travel more than 25 miles to attend performances regularly.  Its incredible attendance rates, artist residency, school outreach programs, and the myriad of performances have helped it achieve recognition as a first-class regional arts center. The Reif Center is a proven, vital, regional resource.

The Senate Capital Investment Committee also had the opportunity to tour Bemidji State University this fall.  The school is requesting $13.79 million in bonding that would be used to bring the Business and Accounting Departments back into the academic heart of the University.  Currently these departments are housed in an outdated building located in the residential zone of campus.  An underutilized gymnasium will be renovated for smart classroom and instructional space, giving the campus more useable area without expanding the footprint of the campus.

Bemidji State University is a cornerstone of this community. It is vitally important that the state continues to maintain this learning institution to the benefit of Northern Minnesota students and families.

While this year’s bonding bill will be substantial, there are far more project requests than are posted at Build.MN.  I hope the Capital Investment Committee will see the value in putting money into some of the Northern Minnesota’s best learning and cultural institutions.

Senator Tom Saxhaug
Tom Saxhaug represents District 5, which includes portions of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, and Itasca counties in the northern part of the state. He is a retired insurance agent. Sen. Saxhaug chairs the State Departments and Veterans Budget Division.

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