The Business Leaders for Permanent Flood Protection task force met on Wednesday, July 9 and focused exclusively on Minnesota.
More than 50 people attended the meeting. Numerous Minnesota business leaders voiced their support for the F-M Area Diversion Project to elected representatives such as Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams; Moorhead City council members Mari Daily, Nancy Otto, Heidi Durand, Brenda Elmer, Mike Hulett, Chuck Hendrickson and Steve Gehrtz: Clay County Commissioners Kent Campbell, Jon Evert, and Grant Weyland; and Sen. Kent Eken, Rep. Paul Marquart, and Rep. Ben Lien from Minnesota’s District 4.
Eventide CEO and Minnesota Resident Jon Riewer remarked on the regional benefits of the Diversion Project’s flood protection, and noted Eventide has 1000 jobs locally, of which almost 500 are located in Moorhead.
Moorhead Public Service Commissioner and Moorhead resident Dave Anderson commented on the impact the floods have had on Sanford and reminded the group of the trauma of scattering patients during Sanford’s evacuation in 2009, and the $4.5 million one-year economic impact from the evacuation. Anderson concluded with summarizing Sanford’s desire not to go through a similar situation again.
Bryce Johnson from the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead addressed the economic impact of the Flood of 2009 to the region when the building industry shut down. In a three month time period, she reported fewer than 12 building permits were pulled, resulting in thousands of jobs being put on hold.
Several other business leaders, as well as former Representative Morrie Lanning, commented on the importance of regional cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the Diversion Project continues to move forward.
The task force also received updates on Moorhead’s current flood protection levels, mitigation efforts and funding, and how the Diversion would work in cooperation to strengthen and enhance the City’s flood protection. “The success of our community is largely hinged on the success of the FM Diversion project and the assurance that we have appropriate flood protection measures,” said Craig Whitney, President and CEO of The Chamber. “Floods have taken their toll on the private sector and we appreciate our elected officials taking the time to hear the concerns of the business community.”
The Business Leaders for Permanent Flood Protection task force has held meetings in the past focused on North Dakota legislators and will continue to actively be a part of discussion as each legislature goes into session to consider additional funding.