Economic impact of Line 3 pipeline construction exceeded expectations

There were high expectations for the economic benefits Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project promised to bring to the 15 northern Minnesota counties the pipeline runs through. But a new study commissioned by the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX) found the results not only met but far exceeded original projections in number of jobs created and related economic activity in one of the state’s more impoverished areas.

The West Central Tribune detailed the more than $5 billion impact of the energy pipeline that was completed last year despite attempts of far-left activists to shut it down.

The Line 3 project had a larger impact than originally expected, compared to the 2017 pre-construction study, Bodine said. Originally, the project was anticipated to take two years, cost about $1.9 billion and create 8,600 jobs total. However, the Line 3 project supported an average of 4,157 jobs per year from 2017-2023 in the region, according to the recent study performed by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics.

During peak Line 3 construction in 2021, employment reached over 14,400 jobs. For every job directly supported by Line 3, another 0.86 jobs were added in related industries, the study stated. Enbridge reportedly contributed more than $1.7 billion in employee wages and benefits, over $2.2 billion in value-added spending, and generated more than $5 billion in new spending over the project’s life.

Local elected officials say the pipeline construction brought jobs and hope at a critical time when families and businesses were coping with the fallout from the pandemic. Nearly half of the workers came from the counties along the pipeline route. At the same time local businesses benefited significantly from the spending of pipeline workers from outside the area on lodging, meals, gas and other necessities.

Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer said he has supported the Line 3 project from the beginning. While businesses across the state shut down as a result of the pandemic, his community located along the replacement route saw jobs during construction. Restaurants reforming practices to provide bagged lunches and suppers for Line 3 employees was just one example, he said.

Clearbrook Mayor Dylan Goudge added that prior to Line 3, the local economy was bleak with many companies having to make tough decisions.

“Now, we’re still seeing the positive impacts of Line 3. Many people were able to get back to work. Others came from around the country and discovered our community and lifted it up,” Goudge said.

The study also underscores the importance of strategic infrastructure projects like Line 3 on the statewide economy. Not to mention the vastly improved environmental protections provided by the replacement line.

“Large-scale industrial projects are critical to continued growth and success throughout not just the APEX region but also the entire state of Minnesota,” said Lisa Bodine, APEX board chair. “The project surpassed all economic impact projections and created family-sustaining jobs for many Minnesotans. APEX is proud to advocate for these types of projects in our region because we understand the economic, environmental and social benefits will be felt for decades to come.”

The construction crews may be gone, but the economic impact will remain for decades to come. The replacement Line 3 will bring in an estimated $35 million more in property taxes to Minnesota counties, in addition to the $43 million in property taxes Enbridge already pays in.