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      Building a Better Minnesota: Regional Civic Centers and Downtown Improvements

      Posted on April 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      Governor Dayton's bonding proposal invests $98.5 million in Minnesota's downtowns

      Governor Dayton’s commitment to building a better Minnesota starts with jobs that help build communities. The governor’s bonding proposal invests $98.5 million in the downtowns of regional centers; projects that will create jobs, attract additional private investment, and support economic development in communities across Minnesota. Those investments include: 
      • $35 million for the Rochester Civic Center expansion
      • $20 million for reconstruction of Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis
      • $14.5 million for a new addition to the Mankato Civic Center
      • $14 million to double the size of the Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul
      • $10.1 million for an expansion of the St. Cloud Civic Center

      Rochester, MN is a world-renowned leader in the health care field, and as a result the city is internationally known and seen as an attractive place to visit. The city also functions as an important economic regional hub for southeastern Minnesota and continues to grow rapidly.  In 2008 the Rochester Civic Center was forced to turn down 68 regional and national events representing 136,500 attendees because it was not able to accommodate them. An investment in expanding the current Civic Center in Rochester will allow the community to take full advantage of all of the opportunities available to a city of its stature.

      Governor Mark Dayton knows that to accommodate that demand and growth, Rochester needs a Civic Center that is up to the task, that’s why he’s proposing investing $35 million in the project, nearly double its usable space and is designed to attract national and regional events. This investment will put hundreds in Rochester back to work building an asset that would benefit the city for years to come. 


      Nicollet Avenue is Minnesota’s main street—165,000 Minnesotans from across the state work in the 34 million square feet of office space along and adjacent to the Mall. For nearly a half century Nicollet Mall has been the heart of commerce and growth for Minneapolis.  But harsh weather and heavy wear have deteriorated Nicollet Mall’s infrastructure, that’s why Governor Dayton has proposed a $20 million investment to reconstruct and rejuvenate the Mall.  The project will create direct construction jobs, increase Minnesota’s business competitiveness, and ensure that Nicollet Mall continues to thrive as a center for commerce for years to come.

      The revitalization of Nicollet Mall as a signature business, pedestrian, and retail corridor will help leverage $2.7 billion dollars in private investment to Downtown Minneapolis, creating 13,000 new permanent jobs by 2025. These jobs will generate $174 million dollars in direct revenue to the State of Minnesota. Additionally, reconstruction and redevelopment along the mall will create 22,000 construction related jobs. The proposed $20 million state investment will be matched by a private commitment of $15 million from the downtown business community. 


      The Mankato Civic Center hosts hundreds of events each year including sold-out concerts and college hockey games. Governor Dayton’s bonding proposal would invest $14.5 million in the Mankato Civic Center; an investment that will benefit taxpayers by maximizing use of existing multi-use facilities and expanding facilities to meet current and future needs of a growing regional center. Most importantly, the Governor’s bonding proposal would put hundreds of Mankato residents back to work by building a community asset that would support regional economic development. Based on the community track record, the expansion of the center will be the catalyst for further private investment and employment growth.

      The Mankato Civic Center expansion is a shovel-ready project that will immediately create more than 450 jobs in construction. When completed, the expanded venue space will make more efficient event coordinating and loading services. The expanded civic center will contribute over $50 million in economic  impact for the area. The project will also provide more opportunities for collaboration and partnership between Minnesota State University, Mankato and the Greater Mankato region businesses. In addition, the project will utilize sustainable strategies that will conserve energy, reduce costs, and consider the environment.


      The Governor recommends $10.1 million for a grant to the city of St. Cloud to design, construct and equip an expansion of the St. Cloud Civic Center. The city will be required to provide at least an equal amount in non-state match.

      One of the current obstacles facing the St. Cloud Civic Center is the lack of parking near the center. This deters conventions coming to the center and depriving the region of its full economic potential. A portion of the $10.1 million investment would go to build a parking ramp near the St. Cloud Civic Center to attract tourists and businesses and to spur economic growth. The money would also provide funding for other additions to the Civic Center.


      The St. Paul Children’s Museum has been a staple in the Twin Cities area for more than 30 years. The museum has embedded the research on play, creativity and child development into its interactive learning environments and programs. The museum has provided the experience for children from across the state to explore, discover, immerse, imagine and connect.

      In 2012, more than 432,000 people visited the museum. One of the largest complaints about the current facility is that it’s too small and crowded and that is the main reason why people do not visit very often. The renovation would expand the galleries by 50 percent while re-arranging the whole building. Governor Dayton understands the need for children to start their education early in their lives, that’s why he recommends investing $14 million to expand and renovate the Minnesota Children’s Museum.