Report says St. Paul Union Depot restoration brought big jobs boost

Renovation of the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul brought a big boost in employment for skilled workers, says a report issued this week by the national Good Jobs First organization.

The report, issued today by a group that works to make public subsidies accountable and effective, says workers in the building crafts benefited from the $243 million renovation, completed in late 2012.

The report says there were 660,000 hours of building work involved in the project, with about 2,000 members from 13 building trades unions.

Traditional building crafts — carpenters, laborers and operating engineers — got almost half the work. Also employed were electricians, plumbers and pipefitters, bricklayers, ironworkers, painters and roofers. And more specialized crafts such as sheet metal workers, elevator constructors and insulators also got work, the report said.

As for diversity, the report says that 18.9 percent of the work hours went to minorities; 6.9 percent went to women.

The Union Depot was one of many projects related to the Green Line light rail project, which opens this week and will connect the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis, via University Avenue. The depot work also came at a time of revitalization in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood.

Says the report:

Locally and regionally, the Depot’s revival is stimulating more construction work that will create jobs for years for all of Minnesota’s Building Trades. In the surrounding Lowertown area of downtown St. Paul, private reinvestment is surging, including redevelopment of a large former U.S. Postal Service building.

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