Trump’s tariff on Canada softwood may spike prices, slow construction

President Donald Trump’s Commerce Department made news in these parts by slapping a 15 percent tariff on Canadian softwood lumber. Trump says Canadian subsidies create unfair trade conditions, a charge that Canadian officials dispute. It comes down to how Canada handles the ownership of timber lands. In the U.S. private interests hold most lands, an… Read More →

The budding role of culture in Steel Town USA

For decades, the U.S. Steel Corporation stood as the single most powerful entity along Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. When local delegations needed something they doffed their hats at U.S. Steel Tower, not the capitol domes of St. Paul or Washington, D.C. U.S. Steel officially headquartered in New York until 1970, when the company moved… Read More →

Farewell to Minnesota’s Fightin’ Eighth?

Though long suspected, it now appears likely that Minnesota will lose one of its eight Congressional seats after the 2020 Census. Though Minnesota is increasing population slightly, it isn’t keeping pace with faster growing states. Minnesota just barely kept its eighth seat after the 2010 Census, so this isn’t shocking. Looking at the map, Rust Belt… Read More →

Governor to state: ‘I caught you a delicious bass’

When the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that 2017 would be a catch-and-release season for the state’s most popular fish — the walleye — on one of its biggest, most popular lakes — Mille Lacs — anglers and resort owners revolted. The cries rang out. “How can you be so sure the walleye population is… Read More →

IRRRB reform divides Iron Range delegation

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board would see its governance structure change under new reforms currently attached to House Republican legislation. The board, comprised of legislators from the Taconite Tax Relief Area, now oversees IRRRB spending of taconite tax revenue. This is money paid by iron mines in lieu of local property taxes. The… Read More →

Rural identity crisis in Minnesota politics

Minnesota stands at a political crossroads. On one hand, the North Star State remains much the same. A majority Democratic Congressional delegation. High rankings for quality of life that come at the expense of relatively high taxes. High rates of health insurance and educational success. Minnesota seemingly remains a progressive place to live, if you can stand… Read More →

Chinese president’s visit holds Iron Range implications

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Florida today to meet with President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort. This is the first meeting between these leaders of the world’s two largest economies, and the stakes are high. First of all, new nuclear saber-rattling from Chinese ally North Korea threatens the Pacific region. Reports from… Read More →

Truth behind the numbers on mining jobs

Like screeching crows or the rattle of a train yard, Northern Minnesota’s never-ending debate about risks and prospects of new mining eventually fades into the background. You get used to it. It matters, but it doesn’t change. So it’s been interesting to watch a similar debate enter the national discussion. President Trump, during the campaign and… Read More →

38% of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation within 15 years

A diagnostic scan of the economy along Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range turns up several problems, and several causes of those problems. But nothing has contributed to more job losses in the Iron Range economy than the improved technology and automation of the iron mining industry. Those same changes literally saved the industry, while reducing the number of… Read More →

Trump’s tricky American steel promise

What happens when the promise of political change meets the rocky cliffs of reality? Every president, every Congress, every legislature must weather this shift. History shows that all suffer at least some political fallout in the process. There’s a reason incumbent parties tend to lose seats in the midterms, and that presidential approval (usually) starts high… Read More →