Duluth Projects Still in the Mix for State Funding

Local projects include Essentia expansion, sales tax increase for road improvements

DULUTH, Minn. – The Minnesota legislature is expected to hold a special session soon that could pump a lot of state money into Duluth.

The Verso Paper Mill is asking the state for a million dollar loan so it can do some upgrades.

Essentia health hopes to receive $184 million from the state for its medical district plans.

And, the state could rubber stamp a half percent sales tax increase for the City of Duluth after voters cast their ballots in favor of it in fall 2017.

“When I say they’re in the mix, they’re actually written into a bill somewhere so the key is now to make sure that they stay in the bill and that they don’t get dropped out for some particular reason in the final product that comes out that we will vote on in the special session contain those issues,” said State Senator Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth).

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson says she has been to St. Paul to encourage lawmakers to keep Essentia Health in the budget so the hospital can take care of infrastructure upgrades.

Essentia is hoping its medical district plans will mirror the success of what the Mayo Clinic created in Rochester.

But even if no state aid is given to that project, Essentia has said they will still move forward with their $800 million expansion.

“It’s one of the ways we can embed our district energy system, that we can do connectivity, that we can ensure that the needs of the community, the walkability, the livability, the workforce, the housing also get met, so it would be really unfortunate to not take advantage of that,” said Mayor Emily Larson.

The special legislative session could be called within the next two weeks and as early as next Thursday so lawmakers can work through the remaining budget bills.

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