There was no shortage of discussion and disagreement leading up to the Line 3 Replacement Project that spanned 16 counties across many northwestern Minnesota communities.
It was the longest and most thoroughly reviewed project of its kind in Minnesota history and has been in operation for months. It also was a project that divided many into either supporting or opposing it.
No matter your view of the project, it’s hard to dispute the recent economic impact study by the University of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
You can’t just make these numbers up or pull them out of thin air. More importantly, they have played out in real ways across our community to families and business owners. It’s worth noting some of the highlights:
- Nearly $1.7 billion in employee wages and benefits
- Nearly $2.2 billion in value added spending
- More than $5 billion in new spending
- On average, 4,157 jobs per year in the region during the period, with peak employment reaching more than 14,000 jobs in 2021, which was the peak of the construction activity
- Roughly 50% of the project’s construction laborers were residents of the 16-county project area
To the community I represent, this study produced more than a list of statistics. It brought meaningful change to the quality of life for them and their families.
And, while many restaurant and retail shops struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw just as many immediately thrive when construction started, as thousands of workers became customers at such a key time.
Generally speaking, every Clearbrook business experienced revenue increases. The top revenue producers were Bakkens Market who saw a 25% increase and Community Oil peaked with a 30% increase. Sure, this is good for the business owner, but we all know that trickles down to the workers they employ as well. That’s real money in the pockets of our community members.
These are just a sliver of the many stories I hear on a daily basis from my constituents.
So, what do those numbers really mean for my community?
- There are more skilled workers because of this project. They got the on-the-job training in construction to be a part of this work, but more importantly, that’s a skill they are taking to a future employer that they might not have had before.
- Businesses aren’t just surviving anymore. They are growing. The tourism industry, including restaurants, hotels, and retail had to scale up and it hasn’t slowed down.
- Families are doing more than just getting by. They are thriving because of the newly trained worker in their household or the boom to their family business.
- The tax base for our region and our state has become more stable. The economic investment and impact by Enbridge that we will see over the next years means the positive impact of this project will continue into the future. Those are real dollars having a real impact every day in our schools, for our roads and bridges, and public safety.
It’s hard to do anything without controversy these days. To me, there’s nothing controversial about these numbers. Our community is better for it because of this project.
Dylan Goudge is the mayor of Clearbrook, Minnesota.