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Community growth was focus of Xcel Energy's annual breakfast

Community growth and how Xcel Energy -- with its multi-billion footprint in the region -- plays a role in that growth was the theme of the utility's annual Red Wing breakfast Wednesday.

"We know we can only be as strong as our partner communities," said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co., an Xcel Energy company.

Her opening remarks served as an annual report. She provided financial details and feel-good messages.

Xcel has three facilities in Red Wing and had a $65 million payroll last year. Improvements to the steam plant, which will celebrate 25 years this fall, and Prairie Island nuclear plant will generate $12 million in local property taxes in 2012 and $14 million in 2013. The company has invested more than $10 million in the steam plant and will see a $1 billion update to the nuclear plant, plus there's $1 billion in new transmission lines across the state, she said.

Xcel and its local employees gave more than $500,000 to the United Way, more than a thousand volunteer hours and more than $150,000 in foundation grants last year.

"We're there for you," she told the room full of Goodhue County, Red Wing and Prairie Island Indian Community members.

The breakfast at Treasure Island Resort & Casino included a panel of elected leaders from the three governments. They fielded questions relating to the local economy.

"It's the people who really drive Red Wing," Mayor Dennis Egan said. He later elaborated that a skilled work force, land for development, transportation issues and housing stock are key components.

Tribal Council President Johnny Johnson agreed that people are at the core. As the county's largest employer with 1,700 workers, the tribe and its casino take people's and the community's needs to heart.

He also floated ideas for potential tribal development projects: an industrial park, a water park and a 10,000-seat amphitheater.

"That doesn't just mean our community, it means Goodhue County and Red Wing," Johnson said.

All three entities have much to offer, Goodhue County Board Chairman Richard Samuelson said. He sees continued success and growth as the economy recovers.

"We more or less need to get out there and let people know what we've got here," Samuelson said.

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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