Port striving for stable economyOf course I read with considerable interest the “Time to craft a new vision for the Port Authority” editorial (R-E, Nov. 14).
By: Myron White, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
Of course I read with considerable interest the “Time to craft a new vision for the Port Authority” editorial (R-E, Nov. 14). Please allow me to provide some additional information:
The editorial comment: The port’s “biggest” development has been racking up debt.
My response: Please take a drive along Tyler Road South. When the Port Authority acquired the River Bluff property in the late 1990s, all parties recognized it was a long-term investment in Red Wing’s economic future.
To date River Bluffs has generated over $40 million in new tax base (which equates to over $1 million in annual property tax revenue) and is home to over 800 jobs.
Additional development along Tyler Road, but not in the River Bluffs Park, generates another $1 million in property tax revenue.
The River Bluffs project has exceeded expectations with regard to the generation of jobs and tax base.
The River Bluffs project involved a large investment in infrastructure. At that time the City Council recognized that investment and earmarked $200,000 annually in general funds to help to pay for the infrastructure. In 2003, because of tax restructuring and reductions in Local Government Aid, the $200,000 annual transfer was discontinued. The Port’s obligations did not go away, but a major source of revenue to meet those obligations did.
The editorial comment: The port is simply waiting for a large manufacturer and doesn’t “embrace” change.
My response: The port has recognized its niche is attracting small and medium sized manufacturing. Most of our shovel-ready properties are three to five acres in size. Not large enough to accommodate large manufacturing. We also recognize that at this time Red Wing does not have the transportation network in place to attract large manufacturing.
The editorial comment: The port needs to embrace the “entrepreneurial spirit” the likes of Capital Safety and Hydratight.
My response: The port is proud to have partnered in the Capital Safety and Hydratight projects. We were heavily involved in all aspects of the Capital Safety expansion and were involved in what was then D.L. Ricci.
In these difficult economic times, the port has made business retention (working with our local business community) the cornerstone of its economic development efforts.
Those efforts have resulted in recent projects with Norwood, Central Research Labs, Stress Tech, Automated Equipment, Red Wing Cabinetry, Food Service Specialties, and Advanced Insight Manufacturing. We are proud to have these companies in Red Wing and continually thank them for the jobs opportunities they provide.
The port has also looked to the future as an outspoken advocate of the establishment of a robust fiber optic network that would serve Red Wing’s business and residential community.
The port believes a fiber optic network is our “superhighway to the world” and will give our business, education and government a distinct competitive edge. We also believe the network will help to attract and support that entrepreneurial spirit alluded to in the editorial.
In summary, the Red Wing Port Authority has never counted on “big manufacturing” to drive our local economy. However, it is no secret that we place a tremendous value in our manufacturing community.
It is our view that our economy and our projects represent an ongoing effort to establish a stable and diverse economic base.
If you take a historical look at Red Wing’s economy, you will notice that Red Wing never “booms” quite as much as some other communities might, but Red Wing never really “busts” when the global economy struggles.
The Port continuously strives to play a part in our strong and stable local economy.
Myron White is the Port Authority executive director