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Mekeland, Mathews introduce bill to invest in Becker business park

Friday, February 22, 2019

Legislation upgrades infrastructure to attract businesses, including proposed Google data center

ST. PAUL, MN – Senator Andrew Mathews (R-Milaca) and Representative Shane Mekeland (R-Clear Lake) introduced legislation (SF 1495/HF 1452) to invest $20.1 million in state funding for infrastructure improvements to the Becker business park. The improvements are necessary to attract new businesses to the area, including the proposed $600 million Google data center to be built in the park. In what would be one of the largest private economic development projects in Minnesota in years, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) estimates the initial construction would bring nearly 2,000 jobs to Sherburne County and 1,300 additional jobs statewide. At the data center in Becker, 50 full-time tech jobs would be created.

“With changes at the Sherco power plant on the horizon, this development would bring much needed jobs and economic stability to our community,” added Senator Mathews, who serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy. “These infrastructure improvements ensure that Becker is not only an attractive location for Google, but all companies that want to make Sherburne County and our region home. The message is clear: Greater Minnesota is open for business.”

“Upgrading the local infrastructure would open the door for new projects to be launched, helping make up for tax dollars that may otherwise be diminished through the loss of coal plants,” Mekeland said. “This property is uniquely situated and has piqued nationwide interest for development. But, before new forms of economic growth can take root in this area, the infrastructure has to be available to support it and that’s why we are coming forward with this proposal.”

The project is a partnership between DEED, the City of Becker, Sherburne County, and Xcel Energy. Excel would sell Google the land and power the facility through renewable energy sources. Becker is in competition with other locations around the country, and the infrastructure improvements are essential to completing not only this project, but also attracting other businesses to the park. Xcel Energy has requested a decision on the proposal by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by June 30.


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