To the editor:

I was already a proud Minnesota Golden Gopher before the pandemic hit, but I couldn’t be prouder to see how my alma mater has responded to this challenge. Throughout its history, the University of Minnesota has always been at the forefront of innovation and groundbreaking research during times of crisis. They’ve pioneered solutions that have fed billions of people around the world and revolutionized health care. Now they’re doing it again by leading the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, joint developments between the U and Mayo Clinic are putting Minnesota on the map as home to the nation’s leading institutions fighting the pandemic.

But, after we win the war, we need to “win the peace.” The coming need for economic stimulus is great and, once again, the University of Minnesota is ready to get to work on “shovel ready” projects to help rebuild our economy. As a state representative, I led the fight to rebuild Pillsbury Hall, which not only preserved a historic state asset but helped the U reduce costs by foregoing the need for something new and flashy. Done at a greater scale, these projects can create jobs directly, as well as indirectly in the service and hospitality industries.

Following this crisis, state lawmakers will have an opportunity to put Minnesotans back to work through investments in bonding construction projects across the state. No institution is more capable or more ready to begin construction on these projects than the University of Minnesota. The U is currently managing approximately 350 ongoing projects that just need funding to scale up. An estimated $150 million of the U’s $200 million maintenance request will be ready for bid and construction within 6 months.

Most bonding projects don’t offer a quick economic impact, but the University of Minnesota’s request would put Minnesotans back to work almost immediately.

Drew Christensen

Savage

Former vice chair of the House Higher Education & Career Readiness Committee

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