Ideal economic development projects do more than create jobs and spark local and regional investment. While those factors are crucial – and indeed, economic development projects and infrastructure expansion have helped our region to create tens of thousands of jobs and have led to billions in private investment – they are not the end of the story.
It is important, when weighing the merits of one project or another, to look closely at the factors that reach beyond economic impact and job creation – to gain a careful understanding of the big picture as it relates to the project’s impact.
It is this careful examination that’s led us to start the MAIN coalition.
Led by the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, we are a collection of entities from all sectors of the Midwest economy that has recognized the importance of expanding our region’s critical infrastructure through projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline. Our membership is diverse, representing statewide organized labor groups, state Chambers of Commerce, agriculture groups and farmers, trade associations, economic development authorities, and individual businesses and landowners from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.
Those of us from the business and industry community recognize the immediate impact that this level of investment will have on our local and regional investment landscape, and we appreciate the fact that this project will be created without a dime of cost to taxpayers.
The farmers and agricultural groups among us support this project because of what it will mean for our sector’s bottom line, keeping energy prices and input costs low and making the shipment of our ag products more affordable thanks to reduced strain on the region’s rail network.
And the labor leaders that helped to convene this coalition support the project because it will create thousands of jobs for local laborers – living-wage jobs that will help our members to feed their families and support their communities.
Our reasons for supporting this project are diverse, but we’re joined by a common belief that the construction of this project is the right move for the communities in which we live and work. We believe that pipelines are the most efficient and most environmentally sound means of transporting the fossil energy that we need to keep our region competitive.
We also believe that the future of this project should be decided on its merits, and should hinge on a clear discussion of the facts rather than an ongoing exchange of talking points and rhetoric.
We’re eager to be a part of this debate, and to articulate the many reasons that our members – from truckers and hotel owners to farmers and laborers – want to see this project move forward.