Seriously, is there a more stunning region in Minnesota to live and work? Nothing competes with our pine forests and lakes. Up north, tourism reigns while the grand port city of Duluth showcases our shipping, business, and industry. The Mesabi Range is a testament to our rich natural resources. From Brainerd to Hibbing to Cloquet, infrastructure touches it all.
We want to make funding a priority so our infrastructure systems stay safe and strong. Our legislators want to hear from us! Click the Raise Our Grade button and let them know you’re concerned.
Our district’s urgent needs
Infrastructure projects will address critical problems, prepare structures for current and future capacity, and maintain, expand, and improve essential systems. Much-needed funding will cover design/engineering, materials, and construction.
One Short Story Of Infrastructure: The Airport That Grew
In a region known for its water, the Duluth International Airport gives people good reason to raise their eyes to the skies.
The airport contributes 5294 total jobs and $307.5 million in labor income each year to the local economy. That’s $619.7 million in all around economic value. Not too shabby for an operation that began with two sod runways in 1930.
Besides the dollars it adds to the community, the airport offers the convenience of easy travel and gives businesses the opportunity to expand their operations.
Consumers win, too. Growth brings fare competition from three major airlines—Delta, United, and American. Today, travelers come from Canada, the Iron Range, Northwestern Wisconsin, and nearby communities to enter the new passenger terminal and hop on a gleaming airplane to opportunity—or a long-awaited vacation.
Growth Demands Investment
The state’s aviation industry is booming. Minnesota has 135 public airports, and that translates into real economic gain for communities.
But all of that infrastructure needs consistent maintenance and renewal to continue to serve needs in communities. As capacity grows, so does the need for taxiways, runways, air traffic control towers, and terminals.
Infrastructure investment has been deferred for decades. As a result, Minnesota is not keeping pace with the number of projects around the state. When the American Society of Civil Engineers rated Minnesota infrastructure in 2018, aviation was the only category to receive a B grade instead of a C or D. The “adequate for now” rating, however, was skewed by Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport where the majority of infrastructure spending took place. It didn’t reflect the enormous needs of smaller communities. Although airport leaders were stretching their dollars, projects were going unfunded at a state level.
That gap widens every year.
Smaller Towns Struggle
In some locations, keeping up is impossible. The airport in Silver Bay succumbed to financial pressures and closed in 2019. Like many small community airports, the cost of maintaining a runway, hangar, and equipment was too great a burden for the city.
Closures put pressure on the rest of the state’s airports by adding distance between runways. A pilot in need of fuel or mechanical help, a resident requiring emergency medical evacuation, or planes assisting with civil emergencies no longer have access to a facility. The closing of the Silver Bay Airport also shifted an estimated 3500 annual operations, income of $95,000, and 9 aircraft away from the city.
Stories like these are repeated around the state. With highly restricted infrastructure funds and a growing list of needs because of funding deferment, only the most urgent projects get completed.
Funding for Quality of Life
Our airports—and our roads, bridges, ports, dams, water treatment and energy systems—are part of our Minnesota quality of life. They ensure our ability to compete in the world. They contribute to our safety, our economy, and our convenience. We must have infrastructure spending now to maintain our quality of life—and to assure a good life will be possible for our children and grandchildren in the future. We must Raise Our Grade, Minnesota.
Story images © Duluth International Airport
Funding for Quality of Life image © Minnesota Department of Transportation