$40M in stimulus money approved for MOA hotelby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Bloomington — Hennepin County commissioners on Tuesday passed a resolution that will direct more than $40 million in federal stimulus money to the construction of a hotel complex near the Mall of America.
County officials say the project meets the requirements of the Federal Recovery Act because it will provide nearly 500 construction and hospitality jobs.
County Commissioner Jan Callison said she's disappointed that this was the only county project eligible for federal funds.
"As much as I struggle with the idea of whether or not this is the right long-term solution or answer for Hennepin County, I do think it's the right short-term answer for employees -- or workers in Hennepin County," Callison said. "With some reluctance I'm going to support this."
One woman testified before the board and called the plan corporate welfare. Commissioner Mike Opat told her that county taxpayers are not paying for a hotel at the Mall of America.
"We have an allocation. We look over the proposals -- [and] see which ones fit the criteria," Opat said. "So contrary to the testimony, the county taxpayer is not at risk in this bonds. We are just going through with an administrative function."
The city of Bloomington's Port Authority will issue tax-exempt bonds for the project. The total cost of the hotel is nearly $130 million.