U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and U.S. Rep. Angie Craig visited Northfield on Monday. Sen. Smith has conducted several tours across the state as part of a new “Rural Economic Working Group.” Sen. Smith will be leading the Senate and highlighting what is working in rural Minnesota communities. A common theme is that successful rural communities demonstrate an environment where local government, businesses, schools and leaders are coming together to overcome challenges to create jobs and economic development.
Mayor Pownell and our city economic development team along with Chamber of Commerce leadership pulled together a tour that gave some local business perspectives of what is working well in Northfield. Most of the businesses on the tour benefitted by our city economic development programs and services directly in the form of business consulting services, tax incentives and loans. The total city property tax budgeted for economic development accounts for about 2.5% of the entire city property tax budget. This is a strategic investment for the community related to our goal of growing our local tax base that will benefit our residents’ future.
One of the main concerns we have heard from our businesses, including one of those featured on the tour, is the ability to have affordable housing for their workers. Data shows a projected workforce shortage in Minnesota, and it is projected to get worse in the next five years. We know we need more housing available to compete for workers. Our city Housing and Redevelopment Authority is our primary local agency that is leading efforts to encourage housing investment in Northfield. In 2019, the city participated in assisting in constructing both new owner-occupied and rental programs in Northfield. Similar to city economic development efforts, housing development efforts are small portions of our overall City budget at about 2.5% of our total property tax levy.
Other basic services that the city of Northfield provides to support our business community include road maintenance, city infrastructure, facilities, equipment and related maintenance. The city’s overall debt for maintaining these assets accounts for about 17.5% of our total city property taxes. Northfield’s debt per capita is lower than the average of other comparable cities. We have extensive, ongoing needs for re-investment in our public infrastructure. However, this infrastructure is a basic necessity to sustain and fuel a healthy, safe and vibrant community.
The city of Northfield will continue to explore opportunities and establish partnerships to foster a healthy local economy where all can prosper. As Sen. Smith and Rep. Craig have heard across rural Minnesota, “it is our people and leaders working together that provide a solid foundation for success.” The city is committed to being a positive and collaborative leader and to explore wise investments in our community to help Northfield continue to have a thriving local economy. We thank Sen. Smith and Rep. Craig for visiting Northfield, and we look forward to continuing to partner together to advance economic prosperity for all residents of Northfield.