Like the stimulus program itself, there's a little something for everyone in an investigation of what the stimulus program has brought to Minnesota and individual counties here. ProPublica's tracking shows $430 billion in stimulus funds have been dispersed through last September.
In the counties with the largest per-capita amount of stimulus funds, much of the money went to "broadband initiatives." In Lake County, for example, that was $56 million of the overall $69 million spent in the county.
That was the case in Cook County, too, where unemployment has gone steadily up -- from 6.6% to 7.8%.
The report, which is based partly on data from the recovery.gov Web site, does little to prove that the stimulus created or saved jobs... or that it didn't. In Minnesota as a whole, the unemployment rate dropped only .4 percent from November '09 to November '10.
Overall, comparison of the numbers is deceiving. Ramsey County, for example, is listed as having the largest per-capita share of the stimulus ($8,772), but that's because St. Paul is the state Capitol and much of the money went to state agencies.
Improvements in rural broadband won't likely put a lot of people to work right now, but it does create an environment for future growth and development they would not ordinarily have.
Recently stimulus money paid for three electric vehicles for the St. Paul city fleet. This, combined with the Drive Electric Minnesota project and a large electric vehicle training center planned (by GE) in Eden Prairie puts our state in a favorable position to attract more private funding and new startups in the electric vehicle field.
Even with stuborn unemployment, the economy seems to be on the slow but steady path upward. So SOMETHING is working.