Senator Tomassoni testifies in front of International Trade Commission in D.C.
ST. PAUL, Minn – Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) is in Washington D.C. this week and on Tuesday testified in front of the International Trade Commission on behalf of jobs and the future of the solar industry on the Range. The goal of the trip, which he made with Senate Republican leader Paul Gazelka, is to urge the federal government to exempt imports from Canada from proposed tariffs.
Sen. Tomassoni testified about the importance of solar trade with Canada for Minnesotans, and particularly northern Minnesota, which has been subject to a harmful boom and bust seesaw over the last few decades. He testified that a solar manufacturing plant in Mountain Iron has created good-paying jobs, and since it was taken over by Canadian company Heliene – the company has expanded its production of solar energy. Additionally, he stated that Heliene, with some assistance from the IRRRB and DEED is working on a plan to invest nearly $10 million on new manufacturing equipment, plant expansion and supplies which would go on to grow high-tech jobs for the region.
“This is a big deal for Iron Rangers. We’ve been through a lot since the economy crashed nearly a decade ago – and we are seeing promise in solar energy and trade with Canada. If the federal government slapped tariffs on Canadian goods – Minnesotans would ultimately suffer the consequences. Our region has been dealt so many trade blows – I couldn’t let this happen without making our voices heard at the federal level. I am hopeful my testimony will be taken into account – and the federal government will grant an exemption for Canada,” said Sen. Tomassoni.
According to the Star Tribune, Heliene employs 10-15 people in Mountain Iron. If the $10 million expansion goes through it could bump its workforce to 70. Tomassoni says he sees the solar industry and copper mining industries as reliant on one another to create a better economy up on the Range.