Republicans in the Minnesota Senate are aiming to expand job-training programs and business development with a $208 million jobs bill -- and more money from private businesses and organizations.
GOP senators on Monday unveiled a bill that would provide money to a handful of existing state job-creation programs and some new ones. Among them: a manufacturing work-training program for teenagers, a construction-training program for military veterans, and a North Minneapolis grocery store and wellness center.
Monday's announcement did not include specifics on funding for those programs. But Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said the bill includes $20 million to expand broadband in rural areas of Minnesota -- and that those communities wouldn't have to spend as much local money to get the state funds. The bill lowers a required local match for broadband projects from 50 percent to 35 percent and drops the minimum level for state broadband grants from $5 million to $3 million.
Digi-Key, a Thief River Falls manufacturer of electronic components, was singled out as a major potential recipient of state support. Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said the company, which has announced plans to add 1,000 new jobs over the next decade, could get $40 million in tax incentives.
"The problem up there in there in northwest Minnesota is that we're really lacking in infrastructure and lacking in a tax climate that's conducive to companies growing and staying there," Johnson said.