WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured significant federal funding for local projects benefiting Northwest Minnesota. This funding will help boost local communities through a wide range of projects including major investments in the Thief River Falls Regional Airport, higher education for Minnesota’s veterans and service members, wastewater treatment facility improvements, roadway infrastructure, childcare investments and more.
“This federal funding will have a real impact in Northwest Minnesota. From making infrastructure improvements to expanding access to child care and workforce development programs, these projects will address key issues impacting Minnesotans on a daily basis. I am proud to have worked with leaders from across the region to secure the resources for these projects, and I look forward to seeing all the good they will do,” said Senator Klobuchar.
“These investments are an enormous win for North Western Minnesota,” said Senator Smith. “These projects will support critical improvements for infrastructure, military higher education, agriculture, childcare and more. I am particularly proud of our work to secure this funding, which will directly improve the lives of Minnesotans.”
“Ensuring our infrastructure is up-to-date is key to the safety and success of the Thief River Falls Regional Airport,” said Joe Hedrick, Airport Manager. “This funding will be used to expand the cargo area to allow loading and unloading operations for our largest aircraft to occur in a safe, warm environment. Senators Klobuchar and Smith have been great partners in securing this funding, and we’re so appreciative of their help.”
“Improving our outdated wastewater treatment facility is critical to our city. By strengthening our water systems, this funding will help ensure the safety of our community and benefit the environment – a true win-win,” said Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince. “We are grateful to Senators Klobuchar and Smith for their leadership and for being valued partners in advancing Bemidji’s priorities.”
“We are so grateful for this federal funding to help construct the Dilworth Fire Hall. This is a much-needed investment to provide greater public safety for the City of Dilworth as well as our region. Thank you to Senators Klobuchar and Smith for their efforts on this project and continued advocacy for Minnesotans,” said Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson.
“High quality transportation infrastructure is critical to Moorhead’s growth and economic development—especially as we revitalize our downtown. The City of Moorhead is sincerely grateful to Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith for their successful advocacy for Moorhead’s Center Avenue reconstruction in the federal Omnibus Appropriations Bill. These federal funds will make a difference in Moorhead, improving traffic safety and emergency response in our City,” said Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Alexandria College and our partners to innovate how we deliver education and award degrees to Minnesota military service members and veterans,” said Michael Seymour, President of Alexandria Technical & Community College. “The funds support a pilot project that will serve as a proof of concept for all of Minnesota’s higher education sector. We expect the Global Military Learning Network project to increase enrollment, diversify our student body, and contribute to the nation’s workforce.”
“As economic development director in Fosston, I have seen the importance of expanding childcare access and capacity,” said Michelle Landsverk, Economic Development Director of the Fosston Economic Development Authority. “People who do not have childcare can’t fully engage with the workforce. Employers who can’t fill open positions can’t thrive. Maybe most important of all, opening Prairie Pines Childcare Center means that we will be able to provide excellent care to young children and give them a strong foundation for success in school and in life. We’ve been working hard to increase childcare capacity in Fosston for the last few years. The award to Prairie Pines Childcare Center will allow us to open without debt and insure long-term sustainability of the center. We are beyond thankful to Senator Smith and Senator Klobuchar for championing our project.”
Funding secured by Klobuchar and Smith will help further the following priorities:
- Upgrade the Thief River Falls Regional Airport
- $7.5 million to ensure a safe and reliable operation for the largest aircraft operating at the airport. The new cargo area expansion will allow light maintenance to occur indoors and allow loading and unloading operations to occur in a safe, warm environment. Federal funds will be used to match the State of Minnesota’s contribution to pre-design, design, construct, furnish, and equip an air cargo hangar.
- Rehabilitate and expand wastewater treatment facility in Bemidji
- $4.4 million to fund much needed repairs at the Wastewater Treatment Facility in the City of Bemidji. The funding will also allow the facility to expand from its two clarifiers to three, which will ensure that when one is out (for regular maintenance or repairs), the facility is able to meet demand.
- Construct a fire hall in Dilworth
- $975,000 to support the demolition and construction of a fire hall serving two cities, three rural townships, and providing mutual aid to all other rural Clay County cities.
- Reconstruct and upgrade highway infrastructure in Moorhead
- $500,000 for full reconstruction of the roadway in the City of Moorhead, including “complete street” and lane reduction modifications. The project will add safety enhancements and create opportunities for multimodal transportation. The planned reconstruction would make road diet elements permanent, construct sidewalks to be more accessible for pedestrians, and create wide outside lanes to incorporate bicycle traffic. The reconstruction will also address alignment issues with 4th Street and set the stage for commercial reinvestment in Moorhead’s downtown corridor.
- Expand workforce development opportunities
- $1.9 million to Alexandria Technical & Community College to support the pilot platform for a Global Military Learning Network. This program will reduce the time and cost for military service members to earn a degree by awarding credit for military learning and occupational experiences, streamlining military admissions processes, developing a secure military-friendly enrollment portal, eliminating the cost of remedial coursework, and increasing the number of military graduates available to meet workforce needs.
- Strengthen childcare facility infrastructure
- $418,000 will go towards remodeling a high-quality building that has been donated to Prairie Pines Childcare Center. The building is in excellent condition, but needs significant interior remodeling to provide childcare services and meet guidelines of the Department of Human Services.
Klobuchar and Smith have been actively involved in securing this federal funding for projects benefiting communities across the state through a process called “Congressionally Directed Spending” (CDS). During the CDS process, Klobuchar and Smith have considered project proposals and advocated for funding in close coordination with leaders from across the state.
Projects are expected to receive funding over the next several months.