Gov. Walker addresses Nortrax
customers and employees.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made a stop at Nortrax Inc., John Deere’s construction dealer in Chippewa Falls, Wis., on March 1.
Walker told an audience of Nortrax employees and customers that a new proposed iron ore mine southwest of Hurley in northern Wisconsin could create 2,300 new jobs and mean an additional $1.5 billion for Wisconsin’s economy.
Florida-based Gogebic Taconite seeks to invest $1.5 billion in the mine site, provided the company can be assured a reasonable time frame (one year) in the approval process.
Opponents to the mine site point to environmental concerns. “We want to have clean air, clean land and clean water, and we can do that,” Walker said, noting he is pushing for “safe and environmentally sound mining.”
Nortrax and John Deere have been active supporters of the mining legislation with representatives of the companies testifying at legislative hearings during the past several weeks.
“Our business covers Minnesota and Michigan as well as Wisconsin,” said Nortrax MW Region Vice President Tim Murphy. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. The reason Minnesota and Michigan have iron ore mines and Wisconsin doesn’t, is because of how the current mining laws are structured.
“Those two states have phenomenal iron ore mining industries, run by professional and responsible companies who have earned the respect of the environmental community and regulators for many years. Some of the best fishing and hunting in our country is in the backyards of those mines.
“Wisconsin just has to follow Minnesota and Michigan’s lead.”
An added bonus to Walker’s visit that day was the announcement that the U.S. House of Representatives had approved legislation for the long awaited $700 million dollar St. Croix River Bridge project. The bridge would replace the existing 81 year old two-lane bridge that connects Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Walker, a Republican and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, praised the action.
“This legislation was a top federal priority for my administration and is a great example of bipartisan teamwork that will create thousands of jobs,” Walker said. “The construction of this safer, better bridge will bring a welcome economic boost to the region.”
Walker met with Murphy, Chippewa Falls General Manager Eric Brosted and employees of the sales and product support team before his general address. Areas of discussion centered around issues the company and the industry faced in their construction, forestry and mining markets. Walker has been a strong supporter of these industries, as they all have the great potential to contribute to the governor’s job growth initiative.
“Most of the contractors in these industries are small businesses,” Walker pointed out. “That just happens to be where the vast majority of jobs are created in this state, and anything we can do to encourage investment and remove burdens from our small business leaders is something we will continue to try and do.”
On behalf of the Nortrax employees and customers at the event, Murphy presented Walker with a John Deere hard hat, and a shirt commemorating John Deere’s 175th year in business.