MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Vice President Joe Biden spoke Thursday at St. Paul’s restored Union Depot, for which $35 million in economic stimulus money went to its renovation.
“You understood if you made a transit hub an anchor, it would begin the revitalization of the Lowertown neighborhood,” Biden said.
Union Depot’s renovation project received millions of dollars six years ago to turn it into a major transit hub.
That money came from the Economic Recovery Act, a federal program that invested in infrastructure and renewable energy projects. And Biden calls that program a success.
Biden is travelling the country to remind people what it was like in 2009, and why he says the economic stimulus package turned the country around.
“The economy was in free fall,” Biden said.
He called it one of thousands of projects that helped pull the country out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
“We have created more jobs in this country because of projects like this since we came to office than every other industrial country in the world combined,” he said.
The White House says Minnesota received $5.9 billion in stimulus funds in 2009 and 2010, and that money helped the state create or save 61,000 jobs.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says his city’s building boom started with the stimulus.
“I don’t think there’s any question,” Coleman said. “When you look at the success of downtown St. Paul, and you look at that partnership that we’ve had both on the state level and the national level, that much of the growth that we’re seeing in downtown is directly attributable to that support.”
The vice president also toured the new Union Depot transit facility, which houses light rail trains and hybrid buses.
He said he hopes the stimulus programs will spark more similar transportation facilities.
“So much more we can do,” Biden said.
The head of the Minnesota Republican Party said Thursday that Biden is keeping a high profile in case Hillary Clinton stumbles in her presidential campaign.
Chairman Keith Downey also called the economic recovery for workers “slow,” with stagnating jobs and income growth.