By Rep. Michele Bachmann
The Verso Paper Mill has been a fixture in Sartell for more than one 100 years. Chances are you know somebody who worked there – a grandparent, a parent, a sibling or a friend. When the plant closed last week, it was heartbreaking for the entire community.
Ever since the tragic fire on Memorial Day, my staff and I have been paying extremely close attention to every development. We’ve attended public meetings, talked with Verso’s leadership and met with Sartell city officials. My voting responsibilities in Congress prevented me from being in Sartell last week, but I was in direct communication with Verso’s CEO David Paterson before their decision was announced. While I understand the difficult decision Verso made, it doesn’t make it any easier for the families involved.
As your Congresswoman, my first order of business is making sure that the people who lost their jobs are taken care of and have the necessary resources to find another job.
Second, I will do everything I can to help find a buyer for Verso’s property and bring new, high-paying jobs back to the community. In particular, I am committed to working with the EPA and other federal agencies to ease any regulatory burdens so the transition for another employer is as seamless as possible.
Locally, a good example of this happening was the rebuilding of the collapsed 35W bridge. When the bridge collapsed, the federal government waived numerous permitting processes, and the bridge was up and functioning within a year. I’m hopeful we can do that again.
The federal government should never be an impediment to new jobs coming back to the community. We need to ensure to any prospective employer that the federal government will not stand in its way and will, in fact, be a partner in opening up a new facility in Sartell.
I’m confident Sartell will be able to attract new businesses because the hundreds of employees who worked at the Verso Paper Mill are one of the finest workforces in America. But it’s important that we come together as Republicans and Democrats to lessen the burden on job creators and make it easier for them to provide jobs for our area. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, I’m committed to working with Gov. Dayton, Mayor Perske and other Minnesota elected officials to help make that vision a reality.
The citizens of Sartell have faced great hardships in the past few months. Yet in the face of this adversity, neighbors have come together to help each other through the tough times. Please know that I, too, am standing with Sartell.
Congresswoman Bachmann (R-Stillwater) represents Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Sartell.