Minnesota Leaders Set Stage for 21st Century Transportation in Central Minnesota

The BlueGreen Alliance held a roundtable discussion in St. Cloud to address how rebuilding the state’s transportation infrastructure can revitalize central Minnesota’s economy, create jobs and help the state compete effectively in a 21st century economy.

July 27, 2011

ST. CLOUD, MN (July 27, 2011) Joined today by Sauk Rapids Mayor Dave Saunders, Jobs21! National Co-Chair and former Minnesota Senate Assistant Majority Leader Tarryl Clark led a roundtable discussion in St. Cloud addressing how rebuilding the state’s transportation infrastructure can revitalize central Minnesota’s economy, create jobs and help the state compete more effectively in a 21st century economy.

“We are still feeling the effects of the recession here in Minnesota and we need to do all we can to put our people to work,” said Clark. “Modernizing our transportation infrastructure and building American-made cleaner vehicles can create good jobs throughout the region while reducing pollution, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and making Minnesota a key player in the national and global economy.”

“We have a huge opportunity right now to make strategic transportation investments in central Minnesota,” said Mayor Saunders, a longtime member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “Now, we have to grab that opportunity to get our citizens to work moving people and goods more efficiently in our state and ensuring that our businesses thrive and compete effectively.”

Roundtable participants represented a diverse array of business, labor, and environmental stakeholders. Participants included Transportation Alliance Executive Director Margaret Donahue; business leaders Mike Powell from ExEnSo and Doug Weiszhaar of WSB & Associates; Sierra Club member and firefighter Kurt Franke; and St. Cloud Technical and Community College President Joyce Helens.

“A modern, efficient transportation system is key to a thriving community and economy,” said Doug Wesizhaar of WSB & Associates, a St. Cloud area civil engineering and environmental planning firm. “By making strategic investments in transportation now, we will create jobs in our community while preserving Minnesota’s pristine natural resources.”

Jobs21! is a national grassroots campaign for good jobs in the 21st century economy, coordinated by the BlueGreen Alliance, a Minnesota-based national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations launched in 2006 by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, which has now grown to include 10 major unions and four of America’s most influential environmental organizations.

Participants in the roundtable discussed investments in transportation infrastructure, including highways, rail, transit systems, and biking and walking infrastructure, as well as the production of advanced and more efficient vehicles. Specifically, they discussed building markets for cleaner vehicles in the United States, highlighting New Flyer, a local producer of hybrid buses, as an example of the area’s potential to take advantage of the job opportunities in the 21st century economy.

“New Flyer is a perfect example of the kind of jobs that we can secure and the new opportunities we can create by investing in a modern infrastructure and advanced vehicles,” continued Clark. “We will only be able to compete for the jobs and industries of the future if we get moving on building a cleaner, more efficient 21st century economy now.”