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McFadden tours MinnWest, talks economy and energy

Jim Sieben, president of MinnWest Technology Campus and Nova-Tech Engineering, left, explains the company’s manufacturing process to U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden, who toured the campus Thursday morning. Tribune photo by Linda Vanderwerf

WILLMAR — Mike McFadden is confident that he will be the winner in the Republican U.S. Senate primary Tuesday.

McFadden, who was endorsed by the state party last spring, said he sees the primary as another step in his campaign to unseat incumbent Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

McFadden was in Willmar Thursday morning to tour the MinnWest Technology Campus, part of his effort to visit all 87 Minnesota counties during his campaign.

After the tour, McFadden talked about the economy and how he’d like to address what he sees as a sluggish recovery from the recession. A primary goal if he’s elected to the Senate will be to work on improving the economy for Minnesota. While Minnesota’s unemployment rate may be low, the state’s labor participation is the lowest in many years, he said. “I don’t feel we’re on the right path.”

Many Minnesotans are underemployed and have seen their average weekly wages remain stagnant for several years. “At the same time, every expense is going up,” he said. “I feel like we’re falling behind.”

McFadden said he would like to see the economy grow faster in its post-recession recovery, and he wants to focus on areas where people across the political spectrum can unite.

A recent increase in the state’s minimum wage may help one segment of the economy, “but I’m talking about Minnesota as a whole,” he added.

He sees a need to focus on all forms of energy, renewable and non-renewable, to spur innovation in the country, he said.

The country and Minnesota can develop a broader manufacturing sector if energy costs are lower.

To aid in developing industry, he said, he would favor “sensible regulation” by the federal government.

He pointed to a proposed copper mine on the Iron Range that could yield thousands of jobs in an area of high unemployment. The plan has been under federal review for seven years.

Part of the problem is that numerous agencies need to sign off on the project before it receives final approval, and the process is inefficient, he said.

“No one in Minnesota wants to do something that will harm our lakes,” he said, so he isn’t in favor of doing away with all regulation.

However, “we’re not good at it,” he said. “We need to become great at it. … We should have one agency in charge.”

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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