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Showing posts from July 2013. Show all posts

Plan a Trip with MnDOT

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Screenshot of new MnDOT traffic App

Stuck in construction traffic? You should have consulted the free, brand-new Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) traffic mobile app. The mobile app features all the construction, maintenance, crashes and road incidents currently available on MnDOT’s website.

The app features a zoomable map with clickable icons for information on traffic incidents, winter road conditions and images from MnDOT’s freeway cameras. Users also can access traffic data that helps drivers determine how much time a trip will take, based on current traffic conditions.


FastTRAC Initiative paves the way for hard working Minnesotans

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Categories: Education, Jobs

Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative
The Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative provides a route for students to advance their careers while providing for their families.

In March of 2012, Patricia Rice found herself moving to Anoka County, leaving behind life in a shelter. As a single mother trying to support her two children, Patricia met with a Minnesota Family Investment Program job counselor where she was able to find a job in a nursing home. She enjoyed the job, but needed something that could further sustain her family and help the community.

Patricia then learned about the Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative, which would lead her toward her goal of becoming a certified nursing assistant. 

The road to a degree can be difficult. Patricia found herself trying to balance her school and work, keeping a roof over her children’s heads. Thankfully, Minnesota FastTRAC provides understanding instructors and specially placed “navigators” who work with students to efficiently comprehend course materials. The Minnesota FastTRAC professors are determined to see their students succeed and move on into sustaining jobs.


Growing Veteran-owned Businesses and Creating Jobs for All Minnesotans

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 5:08 PM
Categories: Economy, Veterans, Jobs

A veteran uses a job fair to help find a job.
Minnesota is veteran friendly, with roughly 600 veteran-owned businesses.

Minnesota is home to almost 400,000 veterans and roughly 600 veteran-owned businesses. A few years ago, Minnesota implemented a veteran-owned business preference for state contracting The preference allowed these businesses to be more competitive when bidding on state contracts – helping veterans transition to civilian life and attract more retiring service members to our state.

The change has made Minnesota more veteran friendly and helped small businesses to grow in our state. Minnesota also has a similar preference for minority and women-owned businesses. The preference works by giving firms owned by disadvantaged groups a small boost during the bidding process.


Redevelopment Creating New Jobs in Oakdale

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 1:23 PM
Categories: Jobs


Oakdale is undergoing a major makeover. The city is redeveloping underutilized and blighted areas around Tanner’s Lake and at the Oakdale Mall. The two projects will infuse more than $65 million into the local economy – creating 325 jobs in the construction, labor, retail, office, commercial, and medical sectors!

Tanner’s Lake. Spending time at the lake is about to get even better. The project will remove three vacant buildings and replace them with high-quality commercial, housing, retail, and public spaces. The improved lakeshore should be fun for residents and visitors alike. The improved site will include a restaurant and pavilion along the shore.

The Oakdale Mall. In recent years, the Oakdale Mall has become an eyesore. The renovated mall will include senior housing and 125,000 square feet new development. Mixing housing and commercial development will increase the vitality and livability of the area for years to come!

The support of Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL legislature was critical to the redevelopment of these blighted sites. This past spring, the Governor and the legislature passed a bill allowing the city of Oakdale to create a tax increment finance district (TIF). The technique, which is used by local government across Minnesota, allows Oakdale to use the increased tax value of the improved sites to pay for the initial renovations.

Supporting local projects is critical to growing Minnesota’s economy, which is why Governor Dayton supports economic development opportunities across our state. Some of the biggest projects from last legislative session included:

The Mayo Clini c: Destination Medical Center. The project is expected to attract $6 billion in private investment, create 35,000 to 45,000 jobs, and ensure Rochester remains a premier global medical destination.

3M Expansion. The creation of a new TIF district in Maplewood is going to help 3M construct a $150 million, 400,000 square-foot research and development lab – creating create 700 permanent jobs.

Projects like these are great way create good jobs for Minnesotans and demonstrate the power of collaboration between government and the private sector. 


Helping Minnesota Veterans Navigate the System and Access Earned Benefits

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Categories: Veterans


With the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military is downsizing – creating a whole new generation of veterans. What does this mean for Minnesota’s veterans’ resource offices? At a basic level: more veterans who need help accessing state and federal resources.  

After leaving the service Minnesota veterans have access to a myriad of state and federal resources. Instead of requiring our veterans to call or visit a central office in Saint Paul or Washington, D.C., we have veterans’ resource offices in every county of the state.

These small offices provided big value to Minnesota’s veterans – connecting them with advice and assistance when filing claims for state and federal benefits like disability compensation, employment training, and medical treatment. Resource offices also assist veterans and their families with a variety of other programs and provide referrals to other community resources.

This year, Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL legislature provided new funding for Minnesota’s County Veteran Service Offices – ensuring Minnesota veterans receive help when applying for the benefits they have earned. The new resources will be used for veterans outreach efforts and to enhance current services.


New Legislation Protects Those with Service Animals

Posted on July 25, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Credit: KSTP TV, Naomi Pescovitz


Minnesota to Germany: Renewable Energy Leaders Exchange Ideas

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 3:58 PM
Categories: Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon

Berlin, Germany

Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon and a delegation of Minnesota energy industry officials are in Berlin, Germany for a week to exchange renewable energy ideas.

This week, Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon is leading a delegation of Minnesota’s energy industry officials and supporters to Berlin, Germany for a week-long renewable energy conference. The group will meet with their German counterparts to exchange renewable energy ideas with each other. 

Both Minnesota and Germany are front-runners when it comes to alternative sources of energy – including solar and wind power. 

Currently, Minnesota is third in the nation when it comes to wind power generation. Powering Minnesota’s renewable energy push is the Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard, which sets a goal of producing 25 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by the year 2025. Right now, Minnesota is on track to reach to this great goal.

Renewable energy is good for both Minnesota’s environment and its economy. A recent survey from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development shows our state has roughly 37,000 green jobs – resulting in more than $3.8 billion in annual economic activity.

To build on past success, new provisions passed by the legislature will help expand solar power use – supporting more than 100 Minnesota-based solar energy businesses.  

During the exchange with Germany, the Lieutenant Governor, representatives from state government, industry, academia, and non-profits will meet with the German Ministry of Economics and Technology, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Foreign Office.

Our partnership with Germany is a great way to share ideas and to innovate. Using clean, renewable energy will help us protect our planet and create new jobs for Minnesotans.


Minnesota Honoring More Veterans

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 3:49 PM
Categories: Veterans

Fort Snelling Cemetery 

Fort Snelling has one of the few cemeteries for veterans in Minnesota.

Minnesota veterans lack options for their final resting places. This past legislative session, Governor Dayton and the DFL legislature provided new funding for another state veteran’s cemetery in southeastern Minnesota.

Currently, southeastern Minnesota veterans only have access to the Fort Snelling or Little Falls cemetery sites, both of which are at least two hours away. The lack of nearby options leads many families to bury their loved ones at private cemeteries or churches. Historic Fort Snelling has more than 180,000 internments and will likely reach capacity in the next 50 years, meaning Minnesota needs additional space for veterans soon.

The funding will allow a new cemetery to open during the winter of 2015. Generously, Fillmore County has donated 153 acres for the cemetery – reducing the cost to Minnesota taxpayers. The new site will provide space for more than 50,000 veterans. And there’s definitely a need for the space. Right now, there are over 39,000 veterans within a 75-mile radius of Preston, Minnesota.

The new site also will help businesses in the area, creating new jobs, while honoring veterans. As visitors come to pay their respects, many businesses – such as restaurants, floral shops and hotels – will be able to attract new customers and guests. 

Governor Dayton remains committed to supporting veterans now and in the future. And this new cemetery site will help us remember and honor the sacrifices that American’s armed forces make for all of us.  


An Education Secretary's View of Minnesota

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM
Categories: Education

Governor Dayton and Secretary Duncan at the Education Town Hall
Governor Dayton and Secretary Duncan at the Education Town Hall Meeting

The best ideas to put children on a path to school success rarely come from Washington, D.C.

President Obama has put forward a plan to make high-quality preschool affordable for all children — a vital step in putting young people on a path to a thriving middle class. As I saw firsthand in a pair of visits in the Minneapolis area on Tuesday, that effort builds on the work of states like Minnesota.

The day began at Pond Early Childhood Family Center in Bloomington, where I sat with students who sang a song, recited the alphabet and discussed some of their favorite words. The visit was an inspiring example of great educators helping kids get ready for kindergarten in a setting of joy and support.

Later Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, and other leaders from business, the military, government and the clergy, joined a town-hall discussion at Kennedy Senior High School. At that town hall, parents, teachers, education leaders and others from throughout the state made clear that they have seen the power of early learning — and that they know we must reach many more children.
That understanding did not emerge from Washington. Forward-looking states have led the way — including Minnesota, where Dayton this year signed a bill that invests nearly $200 million in early learning, helping tens of thousands more children attend high-quality child care, preschool and all-day kindergarten.

Minnesota has made a priority of preschool through an Office of Early Learning, a Children’s Cabinet and an Early Learning Council, which together ensure that the cradle-to-career continuum begins with a strong start. In addition, as a winner of a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, Minnesota is creating systems and infrastructure that offer new ideas to other states.

Minnesota’s work represents real progress for families and children in the face of great need. The state’s new investments will reach about 8,000 children over two years, but that leaves many 3- and 4-year-olds — some 35,000 of them — without access to high-quality early learning opportunities. And that’s why we need to work hard, in Minnesota and across the country, to reach so many more students.

Why? Because of the pivotal role that quality preschool education can play in a child’s life. Studies confirm what every teacher knows: Young children who experience secure, stimulating environments with rich learning opportunities from an early age are better prepared to thrive in school. They reap benefits in high school graduation rates and employment, and are less likely to commit crimes.


Ribbon Cutting: Valley Cartage Moves Headquarters to Minnesota

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Categories: Jobs

Valley Cartage
Celebrating the opening of Valley Cartage's new headquarters in Lake Elmo.

This week, Minnesota’s economy and job market just got even better. Trucking and shipping company Valley Cartage completed a move from Hudson, Wisconsin to Minnesota – the result of a $940,000 economic development package from the state of Minnesota. Valley Cartage’s new headquarters occupies a 26,000 square-foot building located in the Eagle Point Business Park in Lake Elmo.

The move isn’t just good for Valley Cartage; it’s also good for Minnesotans. The move means an estimated 50 new jobs in Minnesota—paying an average salary of $52,000—with an anticipated $30 million economic impact for the state!

Valley Cartage received $500,000 from the Minnesota Investment Fund and $400,000 from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Job Skills Partnership Program. To celebrate Valley Cartage’s move DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben will attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at the company’s new headquarters today.

To make the move a reality, DEED, Washington County, and the city Lake Elmo offered Valley Cartage support to help them cross the river. To help Valley Cartage bring new, good-paying jobs to Minnesota, they received an economic development package comprised of tax abatement, a forgivable loan, job training funds and energy credits.

Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL legislature are committed to creating new jobs for Minnesotans. This year, they provided $8.4 million for the Job Skills Partnership – ensuring this program can help businesses expand and hire Minnesotans.


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