St. Paul, Minn. – Increasing affordable housing, improving infrastructure, and stimulating additional private investments across Duluth’s East Hillside are some of the key components of legislation introduced this week by Senator Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth). The bill would invest $164 million in state funding to create a Medical Exchange District, designed to complement a pending $800 million private investment from Essentia Health, a $200 plus million-dollar, multi-year private investment from St. Luke’s Hospital, and an additional $20 million in funding from the City of Duluth.
“This is a transformational opportunity for Duluth to take advantage of major private investment by leveraging public funding to establish a foundation for good-paying jobs, address affordable and market-rate housing needs, and reinvest in our community,” said Senator Simonson. “With total proposed investment exceeding $1.18 billion, The Medical Exchange District is a public-private partnership that is a once in a generation opportunity to spark major investments and result in tremendous economic benefits for Duluth.”
The Medical Exchange District shares many similarities with the Destination Medical Center in Rochester that was created by the Legislature in 2014. With the largest proposed private development projects in Duluth’s history, the bill establishes the area for redevelopment, with public funding directed towards necessary infrastructure improvements and affordable housing. The legislation requires at least 10% of the state funding to go toward affordable housing, and it will require private investment to begin before the use of public money is triggered. No state funding would be available until 2022.
The bill also establishes an advisory board composed of representatives from all three Duluth hospitals, the city of Duluth, organized labor, and Governor Walz’s administration to take a community-driven approach in creating a redevelopment plan.
About Senator Erik Simonson
Erik Simonson is a state senator who represents Duluth. He is a member of the following committees: Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy; Environment and Natural Resources Finance; and Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy.