Note: This story has been updated to say Gov. Dayton will be in Marshall for the 2012 pheasant opener.
Someone, quick, send Gov. Mark Dayton some literature on Marshall. Someone tell him Marshall is a diverse county seat aching to grow even more than it has the last decade. Tell him Marshall is home to the headquarters of a global company. Remind him Marshall is the only place in Minnesota where a person can actually touch a piece of the World Trade Center. Tell him we have a Chinese and a Mexican restaurant on the same street, for cryin' out loud!
Our governor skipped Marshall's Sept. 11 dedication of Memorial Park, he excluded Marshall from his list of places to go for his Shutdown Tour last summer, and earlier this week we learned he left Marshall and its proposed regional amateur sports complex off his list of bonding recommendations. What, we're not good enough for you? What do cities like Blaine, Mankato, and Rochester have that Marshall doesn't - besides a spot on your bonding list, that is?
The way it looks now you would think Dayton would have to geocache just to find Marshall.
Granted, we're stuck out here in prairie land, where the winds are wicked and the drives are dull, world's away from the bright lights of bigger cities, but the only way we're going to get some bright lights for ourselves is by taking on major projects like a regional sports complex. And it would've sure helped matters if Dayton would've thrown us a bone and set some bonding dollars aside for it.
The governor doesn't need an invitation to come visit us out here in the sticks; he actually plans on gracing us with his presence for the 2012 governor's pheasant hunting opener. So, what, he'll hunt our land but he doesn't consider a new economy-driving sports complex out here worthy of state bonding money? He's willing to throw nearly $5 million Wadena's way for a regional wellness center, yet bypass Marshall, which actually got a little salt rubbed in its wound with the MERIT Center's funding request being snubbed as well.
We certainly wouldn't have the audacity to underestimate the vital importance of $8.5 million worth of renovations to the sculpture garden in Minneapolis, we just want our share. History warns us not to assume we'll get a huge piece of the bonding pie, but the governor took the pan away before we could even scrape it for crumbs.
Makes you wonder how seriously Dayton, or his predecessors, take us out here.
The last time Dayton showed his face in these parts was when he was stumping for governor. Didn't turn out too well, though - he lost Lyon County to Tom Emmer by 10 percentage points. He also lost to Emmer in Murray, Yellow Medicine, Lincoln, Redwood, Pipestone, Cottonwood, and Brown counties. Wait a minute. I think I just figured out why he's not partial?to southwest Minnesota. We really didn't do him any favors in the last election. Then again, neither did Stearns and Anoka counties, home to St. Cloud and Blaine, respectively, and they came out smelling like roses on Dayton's bonding list, especially St. Cloud, where the governor saw fit to recommend $10.1 million for a grant to expand the civic center there.
Yes, St. Cloud has the state's second-largest university and, yes, its population dwarfs Marshall's, but how is a city expected to flourish and grow without a little financial nudge?
Why is it so easy for the rich to get richer?
An effective bonding project leverages public money to help build a public facility that will boost economic development, and the proposed complex is exactly the kind of project such bonding is intended for.
The governor will say he agrees, just not enough to put that bonding money where his mouth his, at least not for requests like the ones made by Marshall and Moorhead, which also is going after $4 million for its Northwest Regional Sports Center.
"I don't know why he didn't include any of those venues," said District 22 Sen. Doug Magnus, who has supported Marshall's sports complex plan in the past. "It's a proposal from the governor; he can propose, and we'll enact our bill and see what happens."
St. Cloud, like Marshall, is one of Minnesota's regional amateur sports centers. What separates St. Cloud from Marshall is that gem of a civic center. The River's Edge Convention Center, which was built in 1987 and underwent a major expansion recently, now covers more than 41,000 square feet, enough for 275 booths for businesses to show off their stuff. A sports complex in Marshall would serve a much different purpose than a convention center like St. Cloud's does, but like the civic center it would provide an economic shot in the arm that would be felt for decades, not to mention give local contractors some really good work.
"Regionally, it's been a significant asset to bring folks in," St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis said of the civic center. "It has a big economic impact. We, as a region, have grown significantly because of the growth of that facility."
That "regional" concept is the driving force behind the proposed sports complex in Marshall. We've seen it on a smaller scale with the Regional Event Center at Southwest Minnesota State University, but that's baby potatoes compared to the draw a sports complex would have.
At least we know Dayton has a soft spot for SMSU, which got $500,000 in bonding out of a $63.5 million MnSCU package.
I guess we did get some crumbs after all.