Updated: October 14, 2021 10:36 PM
Created: October 14, 2021 11:37 AM
Duluth was the first stop for Gov. Tim Walz's tour of projects that are being considered for state funding in next year's legislative session.
Walz, Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter, and Duluth leaders kicked off the governor's Local Jobs and Projects tour with a news conference next to the Duluth Harbor seawall. The project received funding as part of the state's bonding bill in 2020.
"When people think about infrastructure, I know they usually turn to roads and bridges, but it's a much broader issue than that, especially here at the Port of Duluth that is so critically important. As we move forward in the plans to have Great Lakes cruise ships dock and things like that, that's another growth potential, not to mention the trade end things that happen at this port," Walz said.
Walz said he goes on tours of local bonding projects to hear from local elected officials, the business community, and others that understand the local needs. Other stops on Walz's tour have not yet been announced.
Walz said the projects create jobs and said it's one of the reasons that Minnesota is growing while other states in the Midwest are not.
"Much like your roof, you can put off doing it, but your quality of life is diminished. The thought of not rebuilding this seawall for all of the things that it does for recreation, to the Port stability, to the economic impacts it has on the local businesses, is simply reckless not to do so," Walz said.
During his news conference, Walz did not specify which local projects he was considering for the next bonding bill. Members of the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate have also recently visited the region on their own tours of projects being considered for the bonding bill.
Future stops on Walz's tour have not yet been announced.
Requests for the 2022 capitol budget total nearly $5.5 billion, Schowalter said. That compares with a 2020 bonding bill that totalled $1.9 billion and was the largest in state history.
Walz also visited the COVID-19 community testing site at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, which recently doubled its testing capacity.
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