This year is a bonding year at the Minnesota Capitol. This is when the Legislature authorizes the state to sell bonds to raise money for public construction projects to benefit the entire state. These investments can help build and preserve public buildings, fuel local economic development, and provide safe water and roads.

Investment in public infrastructure projects will create needed economic recovery from the COVID–19 pandemic and keep Minnesota’s communities working.

Townships, cities, counties and state agencies have requested more than $5 billion in unmet needs that could fund more than 500 public construction projects across our state. While not all of these projects will get funded, a strong bonding bill will create the stimulus we need to strengthen Minnesota’s economy during these difficult times.

In our region, construction professionals will be ready to take on these new infrastructure projects safely. Construction workers and their contractors are committed to high quality, family-sustaining jobs and ensuring that going to work is safe for workers, their families and our community.

The Legislature should consider a balanced approach to funding building, water and transportation infrastructure. This will allow the state to maximize its bonding power to provide on-going economic stimulus to areas of our state that need it most.

What does a state bonding package mean to us locally? More than 35 bonding projects have been proposed for the southeastern region. For example, $9.7 million has been requested for the Chatfield Center for the Arts, which provides Southeast Minnesota with a 21st century regional arts center. The Chatfield Center for the Arts provides southeastern Minnesota with an attraction for culture, education and entertainment and enhances the quality of life for residents in the region. This project will create space in a regionally central location for community events and gatherings such as theater, music, weddings, concerts and conferences. The physical upgrades to the arts center will be a catalyst for business and economic development. Bonding money from the state will keep our community working and attract visitors that will help the local economy.

As the legislative session nears it's end, lawmakers have an opportunity to both provide the state with an economic recovery package and help communities such as Chatfield prosper. Our legislators can support our community by developing a bonding plan that keeps local people working and funds the critical infrastructure that our local communities and the state needs.

Nate O'Reilly is president of the Southeastern Minnesota Building & Construction Trades Council