90 Applicants Vying for $47.5M in State Grants

90 Applicants Vying for $47.5M in State Grants

Some high-profile projects—like the proposed St. Paul Saints ballpark and the Southwest Corridor light-rail line—previously announced plans to seek a share of the state funding, but 90 applications have now been filed.

The deadline for applying for $47.5 million in state funding has passed—and the large applicant pool indicates that competition is stiff.

A $496 million bonding bill that Governor Mark Dayton signed last month included $47.5 million for unspecified economic development projects in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), which is charged with doling out the funding, began accepting grant applications in May, and the initial June deadline was subsequently extended to July 9.

DEED spokesman Monte Hanson told Twin Cities Business on Tuesday morning that 90 applications were submitted, and the agency will now begin its process of selecting grant recipients.

Download the full list of applicants here.

The state will consider a variety of factors for each project before selecting recipients, including job creation or retention (including permanent and temporary construction jobs), whether a project will increase the local tax base, and general return on investment. Selected projects must provide matching dollars for any state funding they receive.

Individuals involved with a few major projects previously publicized their intention to apply for funding. St. Paul is seeking $27 million to help fund a new $54 million stadium for the St. Paul Saints minor league baseball team. The city council approved St. Paul’s plan to pursue the funding, and Mayor Chris Coleman’s office announced Monday that the city had formally applied.

“This ballpark won’t just be an attraction for families across the region, it’s going to create jobs and add vitality to our community,” Coleman said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to putting people to work as soon as we receive the funding from DEED. This is a very exciting day for St. Paul.”

It’s been clear for some time, however, that St. Paul faces competition from other major projects that were left out of the bonding bill. For example, the Metropolitan Council is seeking state funding for the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail line, which would run between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. The Pioneer Press recently reported that the Met Council requested $14 million for the project. And there have also been funding requests for expansions of the civic centers in Rochester and Mankato.

It's now clear that those applicants represent only a small fraction of the pool of projects vying for funding, and the applicants are collectively requesting $288.4 million—far more money than is available.

“We were impressed by the volume and quality of the projects submitted for capital project grants,” DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement. “In the next several weeks, we will evaluate the applications closely and make a decision on which projects are selected. It's going to take time, given the huge response to the program.”