Archived Story

Finance bill promotes job growth, encourages ag research, education

Published 10:03am Monday, April 22, 2013

The Senate passed its Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture budget bill off the Senate floor this week. The legislation invests in measures that create jobs, make Minnesota a more competitive place to do business, and ensure the protection of our natural resources and rural economy.

Recent years have been tough on hardworking Minnesotans. Only recently has our state started coming back from thousands of job losses and economic struggles. This bill puts pressure on current progress by making job creation and economic development across the state a top priority. Investments made in this bill build upon those that work and help Minnesota expand into new markets strengthening our state’s economic growth.

Key investments made in this legislation include: $30 million to the Minnesota Investment Fund $25 million to the new Job Creation Fund (replaces JOBZ); $1.5 million to the Global Competitive Initiative, helping Minnesota businesses expand into new, global markets; $15 million to the House and Jobs Growth Initiative; and renewed funding for groups who received money under the competitive grant program last year.

Minnesota’s rural economy also benefits from an emphasis on increasing high-speed internet access, adoption and use. The bill also provides $500,000 to establish an Office of Broadband. This new office would work to improve, foster and encourage broadband expansion to promote job growth and increase services to areas without or having limited broadband services. Broadband expansion is vital to diversifying the state’s rural economic development and keeping our businesses competitive.

This legislation also lays out funding for agriculture programs included in my Agriculture Policy bill. More than $15 million is allocated for the Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovation Program (AGRI). Farmers, agricultural businesses and entrepreneurs with new business or market plans, diversification or expansion goals are targeted for AGRI program assistance.

In our rural communities, agriculture activities drive our economy. Stable funding in this area helps expand production, processing, and marketing of Minnesota food, feed, fiber and fuel. This expansion ultimately creates more agriculture jobs and businesses. Ensuring Minnesota’s continued lead in the agriculture industry depends on the investments we make in research and education today.

As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with questions as we near the end of this legislative session. Call 651-296-9248 or email sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn.

Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL, Austin


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