Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Joins Vice President Biden for Middle-Class Task Force Meeting in St. Cloud
Klobuchar Urges Help for Minnesota Dairy Farmers, Agriculture Secretary Says Help is on the Way
St. Cloud, MN - Saying that Minnesota has always been a strong middle-class state, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar was in St. Cloud Thursday, March 19, to participate in the second meeting of the White House Middle-Class Task Force, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden.
With about 400 Minnesotans in attendance, Klobuchar offered a welcome and opening remarks at the meeting, which was held at the New Flyer of America bus manufacturing plant.
Done in a town-hall style format, the meeting was designed primarily as an opportunity for the Task Force to listen to Minnesotans and learn how they are handling the economy and how they want their government to help.
The New Flyer facility was selected as the location because the company's employment has grown steadily. The St. Cloud facility now has about 650 workers, and another 300 work at a Crookston facility.
Klobuchar said that Minnesotans "have always prided ourselves on our hard-working people, our high-quality education and our spirit of innovation. But here, and throughout America, we now face very difficult economic times."
She cited the importance of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create new jobs, revive the economy and build the foundations for longer-term prosperity and pushed Administration officials to help make additional investments in area projects, like extending the Northstar Commuter Rail from Big Lake to St. Cloud. Klobuchar announced last month that she was successful in securing $70 million as the final installment of federal funding for the Northstar Project that will help create new jobs and businesses and expand multimodal transportation.
Klobuchar also strongly urged the Agriculture Secretary to provide help to Minnesota dairy farmers as soon as possible. Falling prices of dairy products, combined with unusually high costs and a drop-off in international demand due to the global economic crisis have recently imperiled the dairy industry. Secretary Vilsack said that Klobuchar has made him aware of the issue and that an announcement would likely be made in the next week to help dairy farmers.
Klobuchar spoke more broadly about transportation projects in the state saying, "The recovery plan can be summed up in three words: jobs, jobs and jobs. It's already happening. Minnesota has just announced the first 11 transportation projects made possible by the new federal funds - $40 million and 1,000 new jobs. There's a lot more still to come."
In addition to transportation infrastructure, the recovery plan invests in education, energy, health care and high-speed broadband communications, which is so important in rural areas.
"Even in the midst of adversity, there are still opportunities," Klobuchar said. "The New Flyer facility shows how. The company is a leader in transit innovation and low-emission, alternative-fueled vehicles. It's prepared for the future, which has allowed it to continue growing despite the current economy."
New Flyer employs 650 workers in St. Cloud, as well as another 300 at a Crookston facility. New Flyer added 90 new jobs last year and has a substantial backlog of orders.
Besides the vice president, Task Force members who participated in the event included U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. New Flyer's president and CEO, Paul Soubry, was also on hand.