Talking infrastructure, mental health, workforce development

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Senator Tina Smith (DFL – MN) was in Rochester Friday. Her focus was on two big infrastructure projects, mental health crisis care and the city’s workforce development project for women of color.

The senator visited with local leaders about the various projects going on in Rochester and Olmsted County that would benefit from federal dollars.

Smith started off the day by checking out two infrastructure sites that could benefit from the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure law, the Highway 14 and County Road 44 interchange and the future Material Recovery Site, which would adjoin the Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy Facility.

Senator Tina Smith and local leaders discussing the HWY 14 & CR 44 intersection
Senator Tina Smith and local leaders discussing the HWY 14 & CR 44 intersection(KTTC)

“This waste-to-energy project in Olmsted County is all about clean energy, it is about recycling, it is about building a more sustainable future here in southeastern Minnesota,” Smith said. “It’s exactly the kind of project that I think the federal government can be a good partner with.”

The Highway 14 and County Road 44 interchange has been a dangerous intersection in need of funding to prevent future accidents and fatalities.

“Highway 14 is a crucial artery in southern Minnesota and it needs to be safe,” Smith said. “We know that just at that one interchange I looked at a bit ago, one serious accident every month happens there. That’s just unacceptable and we know what to do to fix it.”

Smith also took a tour of the new Southeast Regional Crisis Center, a 24/7 walk-in facility for mental health crisis care, serving adults and youth in the 10 county region.

“So, when I come to places like the Southeast Regional Crisis Center, I get more ideas for what we need to do to make things work better,” Smith said. “I also get some amazing stories to tell about what happens where we’re doing this correctly, when we are getting people the care that they need and that helps to fuel my advocacy in congress.”

Roundtable discussion at Rochester City Hall
Roundtable discussion at Rochester City Hall(KTTC)

The senators last stop in Rochester was to City Hall, where Smith met with Mayor Kim Norton and members of the Mayor’s Challenge Co-Design Team that has been working to create the Equity and Economic Development Initiative, which is creating a workforce development program for BIPOC Women in Rochester, something Smith says is needed in our area.

“So projects like Mayor Norton and these leaders are putting together in Rochester, I think could become a template and a model for how to close that gap between people and opportunity, especially that equity gap between people of color and opportunity that we have to close if we really want our entire economy to grow and thrive the way it can.” Smith said.

The senator’s final visit of the day was to Zumbrota to learn more about the city’s water main project.

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