Tricounty News

A mish-mash of interesting meetings

The meetings schedule is in full flight for me this week, addressing everything from alternative fuels for automobiles, to advances in vehicle safety, innovation in recycling and aquatic invasive species. Here’s an overview:

I  recently visited the GE Innovation Center in Eden Prairie. I am interested in more widespread use of alternative fuels in our vehicles and the facility I visited in Eden Prairie is working to accomplish this.

That same day, I attended a luncheon at the Center for Transportation Studies entitled, “Could Crashes be a Thing of the Past.” Seat belts and air bags have reduced automobile injuries and a new wave of technology could do even more to keep us safe by preventing accidents from happening in the first place. These systems, such as “6D vision” sensing technology and smart maps for connected vehicles, could make crashes much less common and bring us toward self-driving cars.

We heard from experts who are working to bring this technology to the market. The technology exists today to have driverless cars, but it is not yet economically feasible. Some advances, such as adaptive cruise control, are currently available on some models, alerting drivers when they are approaching other vehicles or objects too fast. Steering and braking assist for accident avoidance is becoming available on certain models. Many of these options will become available as consumer demand rises.

Last week, I visited Smart’n Recycling in St. Martin, where plans for a comprehensive recycling facility are in the works. They will be recycling – for reuse and resale – a number of materials that are currently land-filled or underutilized. This includes asphalt shingles, tires, construction debris, wood products and food byproducts. Their plan would call for initial development of more than 60 acres of an industrial park on the north side of St. Martin. Estimates call for the creation of up to 100 new jobs from their facility and related businesses and industries.

An existing business, Roto-Chopper, is in the process of purchasing land in the same area and is preparing to expand its manufacturing facilities to accommodate growth. This expansion will create even more well-paying jobs in the industrial park.

Also, Liberty Tire is a national tire recycling company that is also looking to expand its capacity in St. Martin.

These are good developments for the local economy and we are working to determine what is appropriate at the state level to assist this growth.

I also recently attended the 2013 Midwest Environmental Legislators Forum. One of the main topics that I was interested in pertains to aquatic invasive species. We continue to collaborate on ways to control the spread of AIS, since this has the potential to dramatically affect property values in townships, cities and counties, impacting every taxpayer. I will keep you updated as the issue develops.