Benson is praised for innovative industries
BENSON -- For the record, Mayor Paul Kittelson of Benson does not have an inside track to the governor's office. Nor does he know anyone in Benson who might have the governor's ear. Just like the rest of us, Kittelson said he didn't know until Th...
BENSON -- For the record, Mayor Paul Kittelson of Benson does not have an inside track to the governor's office.
Nor does he know anyone in Benson who might have the governor's ear.
Just like the rest of us, Kittelson said he didn't know until Thursday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty would single out the community of Benson for special mention in his State of the State address.
"We were pleased with it,'' said the mayor, who added that the governor's attention can only benefit the community.
Kittelson said a representative of the governor's office called him a few hours prior to the speech on Thursday and told him what the governor planned to say. Kittelson took it from there, and got the word out to the Benson businesses that were to be held up as examples in the governor's State of the State address.
In his speech, the governor described Benson as a "really innovative town'' and made special mention of three businesses. He cited the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company for its ethanol production, diversification and production of Shaker's vodka, and its plans to use biomass energy to power its operations. He cited the Fibrominn project to use turkey litter as a fuel to produce electricity. He also spoke about Future Products and its use of corn to make clothing and biodegradable containers.
"Benson, Minnesota, a little town on the prairie, beat winning author Thomas Friedman to the punch,'' said the governor in his speech. "He says: America can win the coming global economic battle because America is 'the world's dream machine.'''
Kittelson said the caller from the governor's office did not indicate what it was that may have brought Benson's efforts to the governor's attention. Kittelson said he can only guess that the governor remembered what he learned about Benson when he was in the community for last year's groundbreaking at Fibrominn.
He noted that the governor's far-ranging speech otherwise did not make mention of any other community in the detail that Benson enjoyed.
As for the innovation in Benson, Kittelson said it is very much like what he sees throughout the region. He said Benson is no different than many other rural communities in realizing that the best economic growth comes from helping its own homegrown entrepreneurs.
With the exception of the Fibrominn project, Benson's innovative industries all owe their start to local entrepreneurs, he said. He said Benson's approach has always been to both welcome and encourage innovation, and to support the role of its entrepreneurs.