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State can help create jobs

During these tough economic times, I believe one of the top priorities of the state ought to be job creation.

All across Minnesota, there are opportunities for the state to partner with local governments and private businesses to grow jobs for Minnesota workers.

One such opportunity exists in Lake City, where Hearth and Home Technologies (Heat n' Glo) would like to move 75 jobs to Minnesota from Iowa. The company is looking for financial assistance from the state to make this move possible.

I've met with the Department of Employment and Economic Development about the company's application under the Minnesota Investment Fund. This program provides grants to local governments, which, in turn, provide businesses with low-cost loans to set up shop in their community. DEED is in the process of reviewing this request, along with applications for businesses in many other Minnesota communities.

Throughout the years, the Minnesota Investment Fund has helped bolster the economies of our small communities. This small and simple investment at the state level is a win-win.

Businesses benefit from savings for development or expansion with these low-cost loans. Workers benefit from the new jobs created. While working, folks can afford to support their local businesses-keeping the whole town vibrant.

Local and state governments also benefit from increased tax base.

When folks have jobs, governments also save money in providing supportive services, such as health care or unemployment benefits. I believe this is exactly the kind of investment we need more of in this economic recession.

Another important thing the state can do to get our economy back on track is passing a capital investment bill. By investing in the improvement of public buildings, higher education facilities, rail, roads and bridges, utilities, and trails, Minnesota cannot only create immediate construction jobs and spur economic development, but bring about lasting quality-of-life improvements for our citizens.

All across the state, there are hundreds of projects that are competing for state resources that are waiting to get under way.

Locally, there are several projects under consideration, including the bio-solids facility in Red Wing, the River Front and Goodhue Pioneer trails, Lake Zumbro dredging, dam upgrades at Lake Byllesby, and several transportation enhancements. Although applicants far outnumber the available resources, I'm hopeful that we will be able to capitalize on the benefits of these investments at the local level.

The economy is going to be front and center in the 2010 legislative session. Along with addressing our state's budgetary shortfall, the government can do much to help both Minnesota workers and small businesses, and thus build a road to economic recovery.

Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, can be reached at (651) 385-7649 or