(AITKIN, MINN)             For much of last year, businesses in Aitkin and across Northern Minnesota have struggled to survive. Communities also have had to face other, longer-term economic challenges from COVID-19 and the restrictions that kept customers and visitors away. For Aitkin, the first few months of 2021 have been dramatically different. Construction work to replace Line 3 has not only immediately brought needed customers and spending to local businesses, it has also created a positive tax impact that will help residents in the long term. 

Aitkin Mayor Megan Workman said the change in her community has been noteworthy and much needed to help everyone improve from what was a challenging 2020. “Our local, rural businesses have had a harder time recovering from the state-mandated shutdowns due to Covid-19,” Aitkin Mayor Megan Workman said. “Line 3 construction immediately meant more people coming to our area, and that is boosting economic activity across the entire community.  What is equally important is the fact the new economic activity from the project also means the county will have increased tax revenue which will help take the burden off local homeowners.”

Aitkin is located north of Lake Mille Lacs and just south of the Line 3 route.  When construction started, businesses in the community immediately saw new customers looking for places to stay, meals to eat, and other goods from local businesses.  Work started in December of last year and is now more than one-third complete.  The project is now preparing for a planned, temporary pause of work in some areas.  This is because of State of Minnesota weight restrictions for area roads related to frost and seasonal changes.

The process to replace Line 3 started in 2014 during the Obama-Biden Administration where there was a consent decree ordering Enbridge to replace the pipeline.  The company then submitted their application to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in 2015 as part of its integrity and maintenance driven program.  The Line 3 project is now the most reviewed pipeline project in Minnesota history and has been reviewed by state and federal agencies and regulators for almost six years. 

“Line 3 is important to our local communities not only in economic terms but in terms of safety,” Mayor Workman said.  “Replacing the old pipeline significantly reduces the risk of environmental disasters that could occur as a result of a decaying older pipeline. This is about replacing something that needs it and having a new pipeline will make our community and natural resources safer.”

Aitkin started as a station of the Northern Pacific Railroad and was originally founded as a township on September 13, 1870.  It was officially incorporated on August 19, 1889 and re-incorporated on March 16, 1915.  It is located close to a number of lakes and only two hours from the Twin Cities metro area.  Community leaders work hard to promote and protect the special quality of life the community continues to offer.

“My husband and I are raising the fourth generation of Workman’s in Aitkin,” Workman said.  “I want to make sure that Aitkin continues to be a thriving town and a first-choice place to live, play, and retire.  There is a strong commitment from so many to make sure we have a community that can support and offer good jobs as well as affordable housing.  One way we can make sure these goals are reached is to make sure Aitkin delivers on its commitment to be financially healthy and responsible.”