Dayton Considers Iron Range Solar Plant A Highlight of His Economic Development Legacy: What Do You Think?

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says the Heliene solar panel manufacturing plant opening on the Iron Range is one of the highlights of his economic development record. What do you think?

The plant received $3.5 million in loans from the state to expand and purchase state-of-the-art equipment. But this begs the question, should the state of Minnesota be subsidizing an industry that is painfully dependent upon the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit for survival? I sure don’t.

The company, will reportedly invest more than $18 million to get a 25,000 square foot factory up and running after another manufacturer abandoned it last year. The plant will create around 130 full time jobs when running at full speed.

Although $18 million and 130 jobs may sound impressive, these figures are incredibly small potatoes compared to the economic impact of the proposed Twin Metals mine. Remember this, while Dayton was subsidizing a solar plant, he was also actively opposing the proposed Twin Metals mine.

In fact, Dayton supported the Obama administration withdrawing 234,000 acres of land that included the scope of the project. He also issued an executive order to deny access and leases to the company, prompting Iron Rangers to sue his office. Dayton also denounced the Trump administration’s decision to restore the mineral exploration leases that were cancelled in the lame-duck period of Obama’s presidency.

Time will tell if Heliene is more Solyndra or sustainable. My money would be on the latter.