Minnesota Rural Development Urged to Include Renewable Energy
...Economic strategies that focus simply on creating jobs without regard to the kind of jobs created can often be counterproductive, Koenen said. Allowing companies to create low-paying, no-benefit jobs often results in the workers turning to government for income assistance like Food Stamps and benefits like health insurance or child care.
...“'Not all jobs are created equal. That's why our new rural economic strategy includes incentives for businesses to offer better pay and benefits to their employees,” Koenen explained. “The way things are done now, taxpayers pay on both ends of the deal: They pay for the tax breaks to bring in a business, then pay for the government programs that employees need because the business isn't providing them.”
...The new strategy calls for Minnesota to position itself for growth in emerging industries, like electronic nanotechnology, genetic research, and home-grown energy development including windpower, ethanol and soy-based biodiesel production. Supporting the growth effort is a renewed commitment to improving rural roads and getting high-speed internet and gap-fee cellular phone service to all corners of the state.
...Minnesota's home-grown ethanol industry, which is largely owned by co-ops and local farmers and business owners, is a model of how the public and private sectors can work together to create prosperity, Koenen said.
...“The key fact about the growth of ethanol is that the profits stayed at home,” Koenen said. “We ought to aim for that with windpower development, with biodiesel, and with other industries.”
...The rural economic strategy calls for limits on corporate activity in windpower development to ensure landowners and communities reap the full benefit of windfarms.
...“The question is whether we will get to eat the pie we bake, or let someone else take it and leave us crumbs,” he said. “We have the resources we need for economic growth and prosperity - productive farms, energetic small businesses and above, creative and hard-working people. We're just not using what we have to its full potential.”
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