Ari Kaufman’s commentary “The Twin Cities don’t speak for the state” (Nov. 12), is an uncharacteristic account of Minnesota’s story and the fabric that makes up our communities.
As a former St. Peter City Council member and current state representative, I’ve talked with many constituents whose sons and daughters have left the nest to kick off their careers in the Twin Cities. We remark on the fact that the basics of life don’t change much between St. Peter and St. Paul.
Even in our economic differences, we are still connected. Many products leaving Greater Minnesota’s fields and factories travel up Hwy. 169 and Interstate 35 to the Twin Cities every day. The greater Mankato area does more than $100 million in trade each year with the Twin Cities. Greater Mankato Growth tells me that 350 employees commute down from the Twin Cities to Mankato, with another 280 commuting in the other direction. Economically, we are linked.
In 2019, some $534 million was delivered to cities across Minnesota that receive local government aid (LGA). Counties received some $234 million in county program aid (CPA). These investments in our communities, which will help hold down property taxes while directly benefiting Minnesotans everywhere, are largely generated from the population and business centers of the Twin Cities. This was part of the “Minnesota Miracle” in 1971 that helped lower property tax rates that pay for services that benefit all visitors to a city — including those coming in for the weekend to catch a game or see a concert.
Minneapolis and St. Paul offer a wealth of diversity and cultural offerings, including museums, science centers, theaters, restaurants and more. Minneapolis and St. Paul capture the essence of Minnesota, yet in St. Peter we see families welcomed here as a destination, or at least a stop on their vacation journeys.
This is an important time, when understanding and accepting one another can be difficult. But simply put, the real Minnesota story is one of a partnership. Greater Minnesota cannot go it alone, and neither can the Twin Cities. It’s a partnership forged early on between the St. Peter farmer and the St. Paul miller. It continues with college graduates from greater Minnesota who continue to look for opportunity in their career paths.
I urge Ari, and us all, to re-examine this relationship, and the benefits of building “One Minnesota.”
Jeff Brand, DFL-St. Peter, is a member of the Minnesota House.