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Continued: Minnesota transportation spending: Will business support?

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT , Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 6, 2013 - 9:52 PM

But after a career spent selling intercity bus travel, Zelle is enough of a salesman to know that he’ll need more than arithmetic to convince Minnesotans to dig deeper for a transportation investment surge. He needs a vision. He wants to describe what a competitive transportation system would look like, and how businesses would benefit from it. He’s got a video to help him; it’s at

“We don’t aspire to have world-class transportation because we love concrete and I-beam spans are the coolest thing in the world,” he said of MnDOT. “It’s because we aspire to have a world-class state. It’s about the people and its citizens. It’s really about health, the environment and our prosperity.”

Though much has changed at the Capitol since the last Transpo Session, this hasn’t: The business community is still the big dog. Even in DFL hands, the Legislature isn’t likely to enact a multiyear, big-bucks plan unless the state Chamber of Commerce, the Business Partnership and their allies give their assent.

Zelle’s credibility and clarity should help those business organizations decide whether, on this issue, their self-interest lies in trying to beat this governor or in joining him.

Lori ‍Sturdevant is a Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist. She is at ­

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  • Charles Zelle, long involved in the commerce community, is now state transportation commissioner. Whether he is seen as an old friend or new enemy is hard to discern.

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