(St. Paul, MN) — As Minnesota continues to build upon its economic growth, Senator Jim Metzen (DFL- South St. Paul) has authored a bill that would appropriate $1.2 million to revitalize the main retail core of South St. Paul. The commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development would be charged with awarding a grant to a city of the second class that is designated as “economically depressed” by the US Department of Commerce. South St. Paul is the only Minnesota city that fits both categories.
“Grants and programs like this don’t just get government out of the way of economic growth: they get government to contribute directly to our recovery,” said Sen. Metzen. “South St. Paul needs this investment if we’re going to remain a strong part of the metro area.”
For years, South St. Paul was one of the major stockyard communities in the nation, supporting over 7,000 union jobs. Through no fault of the city, those jobs left the area to move into communities in rural Minnesota. Sen. Metzen commented, “This kind of job loss doesn’t happen overnight, or even as the result of a recession- it takes a long time, which means we need a sustained commitment from both the state and the community if we’re going to rebuild.”
Senator Metzen worked to secure South St. Paul $1.1 million in grant money during the 2013 legislative session. Following a study conducted by the city of local residents concerns, the city began an ambitious multi-year development project public officials think will serve as the catalyst for economic renewal. These efforts include:
– A grant program to improve building exteriors with paint, stucco, display windows, awnings, canopies, and other outside design improvements.
– Demolishing two vacant homes and expanding an alley on the 900th block of Southview Boulevard for property and retail office space.
– Purchasing and renovating a building at 820 Southview Boulevard for a business enterprise center.
– Purchasing a site for housing development along Seventh Avenue North near Central Square.
This year’s legislation looks to build on this redevelopment campaign. Several inquiries have been made regarding business that could begin to move into renovated space, including a family restaurant. “The effort is about encouraging business that will bring good paying jobs and increase our city’s tax base.” Said Senator Metzen. “We need these investments.”
The bill was heard in the Environment, Economic Development, and Agriculture Budget Division, and was laid over for possible inclusion in the committee’s omnibus bill.
For more information, contact Bryan Wells at 651-296-5561.