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 Response Page - Sertich  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the 
Tony Sertich  Interview of
11-01-2013.
 

IRRRB must use incentives to nurture, retain and attract Iron Range businesses

OVERVIEW

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), a state economic development agency for northeastern Minnesota founded in 1941 by the Minnesota Legislature and then-Gov. Harold Stassen, has invested $71.5 million in projects on the Iron Range during the three years in which Tony Sertich has been commissioner of the agency. Originally focused on replacing the depleting natural iron ore industry with the mining of taconite, the IRRRB now promotes and invests in business, community development and workforce development in its service area.

According to Sertich, in the past, the agency focused on trying to attract new businesses to the Iron Range by promising them monetary incentives. Now its first priority is to help existing businesses in the region to grow. It is also focusing on bringing value-added production to the region in mining and wood products and on developing the area's workforce by encouraging improvements in technical education in the high schools and community colleges.

Sertich says the majority of what the IRRRB does is to provide gap-financing loans to companies in the region or companies considering locating there. The loans are generally tied to a commitment from the companies to provide jobs for a certain amount of time at a certain wage level. Sertich finds himself "in-between" in the controversy over how big a role economic incentives to businesses should play in economic development versus making investments in education, the workforce and infrastructure. He believes both are necessary.

For the complete interview summary see:  Sertich interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, please rate these statements on today's topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic of value. (8.5 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study helpful. (7.5 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

On a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree), please rate the following points discussed during the meeting: 

3. Focus on workforce development. (6.9 average response) Minnesota's economic development strategy for the Iron Range should be primarily to develop a strong workforce.

4. Offer business incentives also. (7.8 average response) But the state should not concentrate exclusively on foundational aspects of the economy, such as education and infrastructure.  Financial incentives to specific businesses must be offered as well.

5. Focus on growing existing firms. (8.1 average response) It's better to help 50 existing companies create five jobs apiece than trying to lure a new company that would provide 500 jobs.

6. Post-secondary training necessary. (9.6 average response) The days are gone when most companies would hire young people with only a high school education.  Now some technical training beyond high school is essential for the vast majority of jobs.

7. Prepare for jobs in high school. (8.6 average response) Moreover, more should be done at the high school level via classes related specifically to job preparation, not just general education.

8. Be open to mining opportunities. (6.4 average response) Despite environmental risks, the state should consider allowing copper-nickel mining.

 

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic of value.

0%

0%

10%

60%

30%

10

2. Further study helpful.

0%

0%

30%

50%

20%

10

3. Focus on workforce development.

0%

10%

30%

50%

10%

10

4. Offer business incentives also.

0%

0%

20%

50%

30%

10

5. Focus on growing existing firms.

0%

0%

0%

60%

40%

10

6. Post-secondary training necessary.

0%

0%

0%

30%

70%

10

7. Prepare for jobs in high school.

0%

10%

10%

20%

60%

10

8. Be open to mining opportunities.

0%

20%

20%

40%

20%

10

Individual Responses:

Ray Ayotte  (7.5)  (5)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)

Dave Broden  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Topic of value. The interview was a very effective update of how the IRRRB operates and how the taconite amendment and related legislation benefited the local economy, education, and infrastructure. This was uniquely beneficial to demonstrate local control leveraging a community asset.

2. Further study helpful. Yes, and to include how the emerging copper/nickel economy is [evolving] and will evolve, how globalization is benefiting the region, and to further expand discussion of how diversifying the economy is beneficial.  Discuss how education and infrastructure is evolving.

3. Focus on workforce development. The strong workforce must be the focus. However the supporting element of ensuring that businesses do remain, expand, and enter, that is, removing barriers, etc., must be [a] focus. Also must recognize that full spectrum of job skills is critical.

4. Offer business incentives also. While I am not a strong advocate for special purpose agreements there must be some format that is used as a magnet to attract, keep, and expand businesses. The State must not pick winners and losers.

5. Focus on growing existing firms. This should be the focus but there also must be some form of balance.

6. Post-secondary training necessary. Tech and professional education must be available for the workforce, and the course work must be tailored to have the vision of the changing needs of the workforce.

7. Prepare for jobs in high school. This is definitely a key shift required. The form however must be carefully considered to not just jump into a job skill that may be short term. There must be training that is adaptable.

8. Be open to mining opportunities. The failure of the state to address copper/nickel and other opportunities objectively should not result. An objective view must ensure that the advanced state of [the] art of mineral extraction is being applied and [to determine] if more research is required. Just as many other things change, so does the mining related technology and methods of protecting the environment. Openness of both sides is the only answer.

Scott Halstead  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (2.5)  (2.5)

3. Focus on workforce development. The economic development strategy needs to vary according to the location and available resources.  The strategy should be vastly different in rural western MN than in the metro area.

7. Prepare for jobs in high school. We need broad education that meets the needs of the individuals and the communities.

8. Be open to mining opportunities. The mining industry has a bad track record on producing major environmental problems and leaving at midnight.  Perhaps we need mining bonds, a copper ore tax which is partially forgiven for successful operation, environmental protection and cleanup and other goals.

Don Anderson  (5)  (5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)

Carolyn Ring   (9)  (5)  (8)  (10)  (6)  (10)  (10)  (10)

IRRB has done a great job over the years expanding and improving life on the Iron Range.

Chuck Lutz   (9)  (8)  (9)  (7)  (6)  (9)  (9)  (6)

John Nowicki   (7)  (8)  (8)  (8)  (10)  (9)  (5)  (1)

The comment that the IIRB gets no state funds is true but, it gets taconite funds the mines pay in lieu of government tax. The fairness of these funds is questionable in that taxes generated by other state industries are shared statewide

Tom Spitznagle   (8)  (8)  (5)  (5)  (7)  (8)  (9)  (8)

Wayne Jennings   (10)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (6)  (10)  (10)  (9)

Good to hear of the importance of applied learning and vocational programs as part of high school.

Tom Swain   (9)  (8)  (5)  (5)  (8)  (10)  (10)  (5    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White


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The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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