Chisago County Press
BY DENISE MARTIN
Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar assured a mid-morning gathering in Chisago City last week that she'll do all she can to help area officials who are working on key projects to help stimulate the local economy. Sen. Klobuchar was upbeat listening to local officials during the hour-long meeting at Meredee's Bistro February 18.
The senator remarked, by all accounts people in this area "...are thinking ahead" and she said this is promising. "I see officials who are working together," she continued.
Klobuchar heard from a lawyer who lives in Lindstrom and who has participated extensively in the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce. He also comes with a background in Sweden's clean energy initiatives. Mike Davis told the senator the EDA members in Chisago City and Lindstrom are working cooperatively towards a "bio-business park" which could be the first of its kind in this state.
Davis said the American Ambassador to Sweden is "like a Republican Al Gore," adding that Ambassador Woods is highly supportive of bringing Scandinavian goods and technological applications to Minnesota. Davis said his contacts in Scandinavia know of the Chisago Lakes history and cultural roots, adding, "This is a good landing place" for Scandinavian companies.
Lindstrom Mayor Keith Carlson spoke of the bike trail effort and tourism in general in this region. Taylors Falls Mayor Mike Buchite, Chisago City Mayor Don Taylor and Jill Behnke, Center City mayor, also made brief comments.
Chisago County's Director of Housing and Redevelopment Authority/Economic Development Authority Chris Eng facilitated the informal session.
Chisago County Commissioner Mike Robinson talked about the county jail project and said dairy prices are a concern for area farmers, also mentioning he'd read her father (newspaper columnist Jim Klobuchar's) sports books.
State Sen. Rick Olseen, who previously served as a Chisago county commissioner, said the emergency communications 800 megahertz buildout is very costly and suggested Congress find ways to help smaller units of government with this national security issue.
Klobuchar said her staff will do what it can to connect people working on projects with federal programs and incentives.
She mentioned however, that with the second Minnesota senate seat still unfilled, her staff has been processing (ie: passport issues, veterans needs, adoption red tape) what Norm Coleman's staffpersons were handling, as well as her office's workload.
Sen. Klobuchar serves on three senate committees that are related directly to what local officials talked about in describing local economic focus; Natural resource-based fuels (Ag Committee), promoting tourism (Commerce Committee) and infrastructure needs (Public Works Committee).
Klobuchar has made a point of visiting each Minnesota county at least once a year. Last year she spent time in North Branch.