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Statement Regarding Corridors of Commerce Project Announcements
Below is a joint statement from Jonathan Zierdt, President & CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. and Patrick Baker, Director of Government & Institutional Affairs for Greater Mankato Growth regarding the allocation of $400 million in Corridors of Commerce project funding, which was unveiled May 1.
“Today’s announcement that Highway 14 was shut out of the latest round of Corridors of Commerce funding is obviously terribly disappointing. However, it is not surprising given the recent modifications made to the program’s allocation process and scoring.
When the Corridors of Commerce program was created in 2013, one of its primary goals was to address capacity needs of the highway corridors that connect Greater Minnesota regional centers. Living up to this mission, MnDOT through Corridors of Commerce awarded funds to Highway 14 projects in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 allocations. What changed in this latest round was a legislative decision in 2017 to create additional metrics for the program that, as implemented by MnDOT, does not do justice to the unique characteristics and circumstances of Greater Minnesota highways.
Greater Mankato Growth, The U.S. Highway 14 Partnership and other organizations all expressed strong concern to MnDOT and the legislature that their proposed scoring system was unfair to Greater Minnesota projects since it relied heavily on metrics that measure volume in traffic counts and crashes and whether the highway connected to the Metro. With no project being funded that falls 40 miles outside of the downtown Minneapolis in this most recent funding announcement, our warning of fundamental flaws in the scoring system have, unfortunately, been proven correct.
The Corridors of Commerce funding announced today goes to improve existing four-lane corridors. Yet our community’s citizens and businesses still cannot access New Ulm to the west and Rochester to the east via a four-lane highway. With Greater Mankato’s status as the fastest growing metro area in Greater Minnesota and Highway 14 serving the largest population of any highway corridor in Greater Minnesota, if Highway 14 can’t successfully compete for funds in this latest scoring regime, then Corridors of Commerce is no longer working for Greater Minnesota.
Legislative intervention is necessary to return the Corridors of Commerce program to its roots and original mission of equitably serving the needs of both Greater Minnesota and the Metro.”
About Greater Mankato Growth
Greater Mankato Growth, the regional chamber of commerce and economic development organization, is a business unit of Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. (GMG) which also includes the local convention and visitor's bureau, Visit Mankato, the downtown development organization, City Center Partnership and GreenSeam, which utilizes agriculture to build on the region’s extensive agribusiness assets to develop the ag economy.
Patrick Baker, 507.385.6657