(BEMIDJI, MINN)           After watching the Line 3 Replacement Project take years to complete the complex permitting process, businesses in Northern Minnesota are now seeing an immediate positive economic impact from construction crews.  Construction work officially started December 1st in multiple locations on the Minnesota section of the pipeline.  Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses across the region are seeing new customers from the different work crews.  At the same time, the latest information from Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) shows the average percentage of workers in the 14 “Line 3 Counties” who have filed unemployment insurance applications has increased again to 32.6%.

“After a year where too many businesses across Northern Minnesota have struggled to survive, what we have seen in the past week is an amazing economic ray of hope,” said Bill Batchelder, President of the Bemidji Woolen Mills.  “When the process to review Line 3 started, we supported the project because it makes sense to replace something old with something that is newer and better.  Line 3 now also represents a real chance for many businesses to survive this horrific year and shows that this project is delivering on the promise of its positive economic impact.”

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved the final permit for the project at the end of November.  On December 1st, the first crews started work.  There are now more than a thousand people involved in the initial phase of construction that includes preparing sites for more intensive work. When fully operational, more than 4,000 union members will be working to replace the 340-mile Minnesota section.  Enbridge is investing approximately $2.6 billion to fund work across 14 counties.  The company has already spent more than $100 million with tribal communities to help engage their members to connect them with construction jobs. 

According to a study by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics, the Line 3 Replacement Project will directly and indirectly support 8,600 jobs. In addition to the 4,200 construction jobs, it is estimated that Line 3 will support 2,800 retail/hospitality sector jobs and 1,600 local supplier/manufacturer jobs.  The study also shows indirect positive economic impacts will include more than $160 million in non-local worker spending on meals, lodging, and incidentals while working in the study area.

Batchelder said he is thankful for the construction workers coming to Bemijdi, who are engaging in strict COVID safety protocols.  “We are now seeing restaurants providing needed take-away meals for workers, hotels seeing rooms rented at the end of what has been a hard year, and other stores with customers buying everything from warm clothes, work boots and other things,” Batchelder said.  “This will not completely fill the economic hole created by COVID but for many businesses it will help them stay afloat, keep more people working, and energize our communities.  Being able to create the thousands of construction jobs now is life changing for not only the workers, but for people and communities across Northern Minnesota who now have new customers and hope.”

The Line 3 project was reviewed by state and federal agencies and regulators for almost six years.  The process started in 2014 during the Obama-Biden Administration. Enbridge submitted their application for the replacement of Line 3 to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in 2015 as part of the company’s integrity and maintenance driven program.

Latest average unemployment insurance information for Line 3 Counties as of December 6th  

County   Percentage
Kittson   14.4%
Beltrami   30.8%
Marshall   23.1%
Pennington   31.1%
Polk   27%
Red Lake   28.2%
Clearwater   38.3%
Hubbard   34.6%
Cass   43.2%
Crow Wing   38.1%
Aitkin   38.4%
Carlton   36.8%
St. Louis   37.7%
Wadena   34.1%
AVERAGE   32.6%

Percentage and number of people filing for unemployment insurance as a share of the 2019 available labor force

Data provided by Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Contact: Susan Goudge | 218-556-3617