Under the Recovery Act, Minnesota was awarded $138 million to deliver energy efficient upgrades such as insulation, air-sealing, and more efficient heating and cooling systems in homes across the state.
Read the full announcement below:
Governor Dayton and Energy Secretary Chu Announce Major Recovery Act Milestone: 18,000 Homes Weatherized in Minnesota, 600,000 Nationwide
Recovery Act Program has Reduced Energy Bills for 18,000 Minnesota Households
Washington, DC -- U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu hosted a conference call today with Governor Mark Dayton to announce that states and territories across the nation have reached the goal of weatherizing more than 600,000 low-income homes– including more than 125,000 multi-family homes like apartment buildings – more than three months ahead of schedule. Under the Recovery Act, Minnesota was awarded $138 million to deliver energy efficient upgrades such as insulation, air-sealing, and more efficient heating and cooling systems in homes across the state. Through October, Minnesota has upgraded more than 18,000 homes, exceeding its goal under the Recovery Act by more than 400, and will continue weatherizing homes for the next few months with Recovery Act funds. The state reached this major milestone as part of its efforts with the Department to save energy and reduce home utility bills for families, while creating jobs in communities throughout the country.
The Opportunity Index ranked all 50 states using indicators such as the unemployment rate, poverty rate, on-time graduation rate, and others to assign a first of its kind Opportunity Score. Minnesota earned an Opportunity Score of 81.2 out of 100.
According to the announcement, Minnesota earned high marks:
Minnesota outperformed almost every other state in the union, earning an Opportunity Score of 81.2 out of 100. A few of the highlights that helped set Minnesota apart include:
- Weathering the Economic Downturn: During a time when a majority of the country is struggling to make ends meet, Minnesota’s residents earn a slightly higher on average income than most Americans ($57,007 vs. $51,425). In addition, their statewide poverty rate is just over 10% compared to the national average of 13.47% and their unemployment rate is significantly lower than the national unemployment rate (7.4% vs. 9.1%, respectfully).
Small businesses are crucial to creating jobs, boosting local economies and preserving neighborhoods in Minnesota.
According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are currently 28 million small businesses in the United States. Small businesses have created 65% of net new jobs over the last two decades and are the backbone of the economy and the glue that holds communities together.
Ninety-nine percent of U.S. consumers agree it is important to support small businesses in their communities, and 90% are willing to pledge support for a "Buy Local" initiative such as Small Business Saturday.
Family businesses are crucial to the continued success and vibrancy of Minnesota’s economy. They enhance our communities by providing stable and trustworthy services.
A large portion of the national economy is dependent on family businesses; 90% of businesses in the United States are family businesses, and 86% of new jobs in the country are created by family businesses.
Family businesses also generate 49% of our gross domestic product and employ 80% of the U.S. workforce. Cargill, which is headquartered in Minnesota, is the largest family business in the United States.
The continued strength of family businesses is essential to the future prosperity of our state.
"These investments are a big boost to struggling families and for the struggling construction industry," said Minnesota Housing Commissioner Mary Tingerthal. "With rental vacancy rates at just 2.3% in the Twin Cities area, and stagnant or falling wages among lower income households across the state, we see the demand for affordable housing continuing to grow."
The funding marks the first investments for the agency’s $658 million budget for 2012. The 59 awards were selected through the agency’s annual consolidated request for proposals, which provides financing for affordable housing through deferred and below-market loans, housing tax credits, and operating subsidies.
A recent report on the economic impact of agency investments estimates that $1 million in funding from Minnesota Housing supports an estimated 11.8 construction jobs, which will mean more than 600 construction jobs supported with this funding round.
Dayton said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued more than 1,300 new permits within his goal of 150 days.
MPCA Commissioner Paul Aasen said that's a 80 percent success rate for all permit requests and a 96 percent success rate for new permits. He said the findings should end a stigma that environmental permitting takes too long in Minnesota.
"Environment and business can coexist very nicely," Aasen said. "We've always believed that and we're doing out best to make sure that we are not a piece of that perceived issue."
Dayton said his order instructs the Environmental Quality Board to look at more ways to speed up the environmental review process.
According to MinnPost:
The reason: He was clear and deliberate in spelling out what changes he could order and where he'd be relegated to the role of cheerleader.
Regarding the former, he appointed specific staffers to keep tabs on his administration's commitments. And those staffers answer the phone.
Regarding the latter, well, it's been a l
ong time since such a highly placed cheerleader has kept the community's priorities on the front burner.
'Pretty authentic in his approach'
"The governor has been pretty authentic in his approach to this and has only pushed what he has the ability and the authority to get done," said Sen. Jeff Hayden, the former state representative from South Minneapolis who was recently elected to fill Linda Berglin's seat.
"He has been more visible and more accessible," Hayden continued. "He has more people of color around him and as his commissioners."
By MARK DAYTON
When I'm asked what I mean by a "people's stadium" that could host the Minnesota Vikings and other events, I say it should be a facility owned by the people of Minnesota and operated for their economic and social benefit.
At a time when more than 200,000 people are out of work in our state, we have the chance to create several thousand jobs to clear a blighted site, build the stadium and other commercial facilities, and then operate them.
In the owners of the Vikings, we have partners willing to make an investment that may approach $500 million.
We have the opportunity either to clean up a contaminated 430-acre site in Arden Hills and fill it with jobs-producing enterprises, or to rehabilitate an underutilized section of Minneapolis, with similar jobs-creating benefits.
I wish we had the reasons and the means to develop both sites for their resulting economic and environmental benefits.
And we have the ability to structure the public financing so that not one general tax dollar would be used to pay for the project. Revenues could be generated by taxes on stadium items like tickets and souvenirs, and by adding electronic pulltabs to already existing charitable gambling.
So why aren't we seizing this opportunity to put several thousand unemployed Minnesotans to work?
Governor Dayton told hundreds of veterans that the best way to show thanks to returning solders and veterans is to give them a job, according to Minnesota Public Radio .
Gov. Dayton said Americans owe a great debt to these men and women who sacrificed so much for their country.
But he said a lot of soldiers are coming back from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to find a dearth of jobs at home.
"Here in Minnesota, the unemployment among Minnesota veterans is by some counts more than double the state average," said Dayton. "There's something terribly wrong when women and men who have served their country have returned home and find their only opening for them is the unemployment line."
Dayton said the best anti-poverty program for a veteran is a job.
In a highly-competitive job market, Veterans often need additional education and skills training to reenter the workforce. This need for continued educational development is not limited to recent Veterans and by expanding the Minnesota GI Bill; Governor Dayton will make sure all Veterans have access to the job skills they need to be successful in today’s economy.
Every year, thousands of Minnesotans dutifully and nobly serve their state and nation as members of the armed forces. Governor Mark Dayton believes it is our state’s duty to ensure these men and women have the support they need to succeed when they return home. In the next legislative session, Governor Dayton and the Legislature have an opportunity to work together on behalf of these Veterans and all Minnesotans.
Governor Dayton has outlined two initiatives that he will ask the Legislature to support:
• Expand the GI Bill: Currently the MN GI Bill applies only to Veterans who served after 9/11 and the families of deceased or qualifying disabled Veterans. Governor Dayton’s proposal would expand the qualifications so that all Minnesota Veterans can access the training they need to get good jobs.