Brooks is an investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.
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Duluth is important. The President is coming to town, after all. "You'll be the center of the political universe," said Steven Schier, an elections expert and professor emeritus at Carleton College. "Duluth will be in the bright lights, center stage, internationally." That would have been hard to imagine just a few years ago. Yet here lies one of the few Congressional seats Republicans hope to pick up to stave off a Democratic takeover of the House this fall.
The Number: 1,016 That's how many accommodation and food services jobs Northeastern Minnesota gained between 2012 and 2017, according to a recent report from DEED. Great news! Bad news, though, is that the average annual wage for these jobs is $16,328, by far the lowest of all the most common employment sectors in the region. Back to good news, over those five years the region added more than 3,500 jobs that pay above the area average — $43,000. The Word
"This is an upgrade. We are renewing infrastructure, and if anybody wanted to renew a road, airport, bridge or building, most people would say that makes sense. We're trying to upgrade the safety and reliability of this very critical infrastructure." — Enbridge CEO Al Monaco
By the end of the month, the fate of the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline should finally be known. After years of technical research and public hearings, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is expected to vote June 27 to approve, deny or put conditions on the contentious oil pipeline that would cross 337 miles of northern Minnesota. Though there is still a chance the decision gets pushed back, those for and against the project are preparing protests, celebrations and lawsuits.
Lawsuits against Duluth-based Geacom Inc. are continuing. Though a federal judge in April dismissed several investor claims against the medical device company, some concerns were allowed to move forward, and an amended lawsuit was filed in May that continues to seek $3.5 million in damages.
The Number: $40 billion
For decades, the beating drum of career guidance has led many young people down one path: Four-year degree. Office job. Four-year degree. Office job. That approach has failed to match young workers with available positions, leading to many overqualified baristas and far fewer plumbers.
For high school students, having a job is less a rite of passage than a novelty these days. In Minnesota and across the country, fewer teenagers are working despite all sorts of opportunities to pick up that first paycheck. And without early job experiences, the workforce of tomorrow may not be equipped with workplace basics.
The News Tribune on Sunday took a long, hard look at the use of hydrogen fluoride at the Husky Energy refinery in Superior and other chemical risks in the Twin Ports. Here are five key takeaways to get caught up on the issue.
The Number: 642 That is how many tons of asphalt have been removed from the Husky refinery more than a month after the fire there. The city of Superior says that's about 40 percent of the covered area. If you like these facts, then you'll love stopping by the Superior Middle School between 4:30 and 8 p.m. Tuesday for an open house and community update on cleanup efforts and other points of concern following the April 26 fire. The Word