(CLEARBROOK, MINN)   As Line 3 construction work enters its third week, the impact of thousands of construction workers spending money is being immediately felt at cash registers across Northern Minnesota.  Places like the K & K Café in Clearbrook are providing take away meals for construction workers that has helped the business make much needed money to help it survive a tough year.  The new retail activity is happening as 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 is now over 33 percent.

“The last two weeks have been an amazing lifeline for us, and I know other businesses are seeing the same thing happen,” said Sara Bjerke, the owner of the K & K Café in Clearbrook.  “It would be even better if we could have people in our dining room, but the take-out meals are incredibly important to our bottom line.  There is clearly new energy here in Clearbrook and in other communities from Line 3 workers that is making a real difference.  After spending so much of this year finding ways to survive, seeing Line 3 happen and the workers show up means so much for my employees, our café, and our local businesses.”

There are now more than two thousand people working on the project across the route in what is the initial phase of construction.  This includes preparing different sites for more intensive work, moving construction matts, and other logistical work. When Line 3 construction is 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. 

While Line 3 will directly support the construction jobs, the additional spending and financial impacts are already helping a variety of local businesses.  Area hotels and resorts are renting rooms to construction workers and their families.  Beyond the K & K Café, other restaurants are also seeing strong demand for take-away meals for workers and other retail stores are also seeing new customers.

The Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics study estimated that 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.

Bjerke said seeing what the study had predicted actually happen is incredibly important.  “Promises of positive economic impacts often get made to help build support for big projects but then sometimes don’t live up to expectations,” Bjerke said.  “What is different about Line 3 is that everything Enbridge and others have promised is happening at such an important time.  We know more people now are getting construction paychecks and my employees know they can depend on their job to support their families because we have so many new customers.  We have always known this project was good for Minnesota and now we are seeing this first-hand.”

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 13th  

County   Percentage
Kittson   14.7%
Beltrami   31.3%
Marshall   23.5%
Pennington   31.9%
Polk   27.5%
Red Lake   28.6%
Clearwater   39.3%
Hubbard   35.2%
Cass   43.9%
Crow Wing   38.8%
Aitkin   39.1%
Carlton   37.4%
St. Louis   38.3%
Wadena   35.1%
AVERAGE   33.2%

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
Susan@Minnesotansforline3.com | 218-556-3617