05 Feb 2015
February 5, 2015

Counterpoint: BWCA and Mines Can Coexist

February 5, 2015

Star Tribune
Opinion: Hoyt Lakes Mayor Mark Skelton; President and CEO of the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce Lory Fedo; and BWCA outfitter, former Ely mayor and longtime Ely-area resident Joe Baltich Jr. 

As children of mining communities and full-time residents of Iron Range communities, we agree that the BWCA is worth fighting for. So are the good-paying permanent jobs that mining brings — jobs that support families and communities, small businesses and schools. To characterize this issue as a choice between environment and jobs is a false premise. To suggest that a sustainable economy can be supported by seasonal and minimum-wage hospitality jobs is contrary to legitimate economic research and Main Street reality.

Our region already benefits from the tens of thousands of jobs and nearly $3 billion economic impact that mining and the supporting industries add to our economy each year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for a Minnesota mining job is $83,359, more than $30,000 above the all-industries average.

We have an opportunity to double the number of overall jobs and economic benefit, and to truly sustain our region and the state for generations to come. For all Minnesota school districts, for example, the state Department of Natural Resources estimates that the royalties to the permanent school trust lands fund from all of the copper-nickel projects will generate over $2 billion. Any good economist will tell you that you do not replace the pie, you grow the pie.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/290992221.html