Fostering sustainable development for equitable commerce

Louis Jambois
Louis Jambois
The Saint Paul Port Authority’s newly redeveloped Beacon Bluff site on the East Side will house Moventas, a Finnish wind turbine company.
The Saint Paul Port Authority’s newly redeveloped Beacon Bluff site on the East Side will house Moventas, a Finnish wind turbine company.

The former 3M St. Paul campus site on the East Side will become a community asset once again — this time under the ownership of a Finnish wind turbine company.

The Saint Paul Port Authority salvaged the site by implementing an innovative storm water collection and treatment system, constructing the new Beacon Bluff building, and recruiting the international company, Moventas, to relocate to Minnesota.

"[We] showed them a great location, an eager workforce and better access to the Midwestern market," Port Authority president Louis Jambois says. "This is going to expose St. Paul to a market that was unaware of us up until now."

Established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1932, the Port Authority originally tackled development projects along the Mississippi River, where barges offer affordable rates for transporting cargo. Its portfolio evolved to include redeveloping neglected sites inland as well. Now in its 82nd year of operation, the Port Authority continues to lay the foundation for equitable commerce in the community.

Trusted reputation

Jambois says the Port Authority serves as a trusted liaison between developers and perspective users. They take care of the expensive grunt work, cleaning up contaminated land and tearing down old buildings, so that developers can purchase these sites at an affordable price.

To ensure the improved property falls in the hands of responsible businesses, the Port Authority searches for compatible users that promise to bring quality jobs to the area.  

"We're willing to take some risks," Jambois says, listing a few of the Port Authority's latest undertakings.

The highly anticipated downtown Macy's building renovation project should gain ground in 2015. The Port Authority has received a number of inquiries from interested developers, but senior staff are being very selective, says Jambois, to ensure the remodeled property won't be underutilized.

"We bought it so we'd have something there that we'd all be proud of," he says of the vacant landmark that many would like to revitalize.

Socially responsible

Explaining the Port Authority's workforce development agreement, Jambois digs into the heart of the agency's value system.  

"The jobs that are created in our business parks are the jobs that pay wages with benefits that support households," he says.

All companies operating on Port Authority sites must agree to pay their employees a minimum wage of $19.63 an hour, plus benefits. The Port Authority monitors this through a 10-year contract.

Additionally, businesses must agree to locally employ 70 percent of their workforce.

"That's one of the things we trade for lower-priced land," says Tom Collins, senior vice president of marketing and communications.

To date, 555 companies operating in Port Authority business centers employ more than 24,000 people.

Environmentally sound

The Port Authority's Trillion BTU Energy Efficiency Improvement Program underscores the agency's commitment to environmental sustainability. By providing 53 loans to area businesses that agree to energy retrofit their buildings, the Port Authority has helped save or create nearly 1,000 business jobs and reduced energy consumption by 150 billion BTUs.

"Our loan program has been a tremendous success," says Jambois.

While the Port Authority has long prided itself on supporting the river's port system — one of the most fuel-efficient channels of transportation for heavy imports and exports — the stormwater system at Beacon Bluff that filters out impurities before running into the Mississippi has inspired developers across the nation to follow suit.

"We're part of our society," Jambois says. "We take pride in the work we do that has an environmental impact."

Fast Facts
• 82 years of responsibly redeveloping sites in St. Paul
• 555 partner companies employ more than 24,000 people
• Port business centers generate $32.8 million in annual property taxes
• A barge can carry 1 ton of cargo 616 miles on a single gallon of fuel
• Mission: Create quality job opportunities, expand the tax base and advance sustainable development

St. Paul Port Authority


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