President Joe Biden greets attendees at the Cummins Power Generation facility in Fridley, Minnesota, on April 3, 2023. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

A jovial President Joe Biden touted his administration’s work to boost manufacturing and an environmentally friendly economy during his visit to a Fridley factory Monday. 

Biden’s visit to the Cummins Power Generation facility is part of the administration’s “Investing in America” tour, White House officials say. Cummins declared it would manufacture electrolyzer machines in the United States after Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022. 

The President was joined by Cummins leadership and a host of Minnesota politicians, including Governor Tim Walz, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Representatives Ilhan Omar and Angie Craig.  The event had a campaign rally feel, with Biden touting his accomplishments and lavishing praise on Minnesota Democrats in his speech. 

“Federal investment attracts private investment. It creates jobs and industries, and it demonstrates that we’re all in this together, and that’s what today’s all about,” Biden said.

Biden landed in Minnesota Monday morning, and took the stage at Cummins about 2:30 p.m. after Walz, Omar, Smith, Klobuchar, and Fridley Mayor Scott Lund first addressed a crowd of approximately 300 plant workers and guests.  

Cummins will soon begin manufacturing electrolyzer machines at the plant, adding 100 new jobs. Electrolyzer technology uses electric currents to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and is considered critical in producing hydrogen, which can be used as a clean power source, in a carbon-free way. Company and administration officials say electrolyzers can support the expansion of a clean energy economy. 

Cummins announced a $1 billion investment in its engine manufacturing facilities across the country in addition to the electrolyzer effort in Fridley. 

Biden called out 182 infrastructure projects across the state that will be funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, and said there would soon be charging stations for electric vehicles along Minnesota highways.  

“We’re going to clean up your Great Lakes while we’re at it by the way,” Biden said, referring to $1 billion from the Infrastructure Act that’s allocated to restore the health of the Great Lakes. 

He said that private companies have pledged $2 billion in manufacturing investments in Minnesota since he took office. 

These investments will help America weather changes in the supply chain by producing more domestically, Biden said. Many of those changes are creating well-paid jobs that don’t require a college degree, which the President said is significant. Biden said his goal is to make Minnesota a place where residents can find good work in the communities where they grew up. 

Omar, who represents Fridley, said Cummins has a diverse workforce, and celebrated the new jobs the electrolyzer project will bring. 

“That’s what investing in America and its future looks like,” Omar said. 

The President is using his road trip to pitch a new budget that includes $2.6 trillion in new spending. He said conservatives are asking for rollbacks to the bills passed during his first two years in office, and have become unreasonable to work with.

“This ain’t your father’s Republican Party,” he said. 

The Minnesota GOP released a statement denouncing the President’s trip to Fridley. 

“President Biden and the Democrats’ economic and fiscal policies have been a disaster for our state and country. Their wasteful and reckless tax-and-spending sprees have driven inflation over four percent and real wages are down for almost two years running,” the statement said. 

Clean energy jobs are on the rise in Minnesota, according to a report published last year by the nonprofit Cleaner Energy Economy Minnesota. The report found 57,931 clean energy jobs in the state and said the Inflation Reduction Act would help boost that number.  

The workforce for green-energy jobs continues to be more diverse than the overall workforce in Minnesota, according to the Clean Energy Economy Minnesota report. The clean-energy job workforce is 26.6 percent people of color, while people of color make up 22.5 percent of the state’s population, according to the 2020 Census. But experts say more work is needed to create opportunities for workers of color. 

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota executive director Gregg Mast attended Monday’s address. He said incentives like those in the Inflation Reduction Act play a big role in expanding meaningful opportunities to Minnesota workers. He is hopeful that Cummins’ electrolyzer production will serve as a tipping point to producing more hydrogen power. 

“I think we’re going to continue to see company announcements similar to this,” Mast said. 

Biden last visited Minnesota in May 2022 to attend a memorial service for former Minnesota Senator and Vice President Walter Mondale. 

Biden’s administration has made several trips to the area to promote green infrastructure policies and legislation. Biden’s first visit to Minnesota in November 2021 promoted the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill at Dakota Technical and Community College in Rosemount. In February, Vice President Kamala Harris toured New Flyer, an electric bus manufacturer in St. Cloud.

Andrew Hazzard is a reporter with Sahan Journal who focuses on climate change and environmental justice issues. After starting his career in daily newspapers in Mississippi and North Dakota, Andrew returned...