Finstad addresses community leaders at former Freeborn National Bank building

Published 11:48 am Thursday, January 4, 2024

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First District Congressman Brad Finstad encouraged a group of Albert Lea elected officials and other community leaders to continue working “shoulder to shoulder” for the next generation during a stop Wednesday in the former Freeborn National Bank Building, now known as The Broadway.

“That’s what this community needs, that’s what this congressional district needs, that’s what this country needs,” Finstad said.

Finstad, R-New Ulm, had visited Mrs. Gerry’s earlier in the morning before coming to the building, which was recently purchased by a group of five local couples known as Century Partners. The bank building and the adjacent Jacobson Apartments building are being remodeled to include health and beauty suites and offices on some of the upper floors and possibly even a rooftop patio. On the lower level of the bank building is an event center, which recently held its first event, and the lower level of the Jacobson building is slated to become a coffee shop and woodfire pizzeria.

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One of the partners, Robert Hoffman, who helped organize the gathering, gave a description of the plans for the space and said the partners are excited that the buildings can become a place the whole community can share. The bank opened in November 1923, a century earlier, which prompted the name for Century Partners. He noted the new owners are just this century’s caretakers.

Finstad also used a few minutes to give an update on his time thus far in Congress.

He said since he has been in office he has gone through House speaker fights and Congress has been on the verge of a government shutdown.

“Hope we can somehow stabilize with some normalcy with some adults in the room — who can govern and make some tough decisions,” he said, noting that he hoped they could help restore the American dream and restore the moral compass that the country desperately needs.

He said the country is operating on a continued resolution providing funding at the status quo levels based on last year’s numbers.

When Congress returns, they will have to tackle how to fund government over the next year as the continuing resolution expires Jan. 17.

“We have to do things differently if we want different results,” Finstad said.

He talked about his dislike for waiting until the last minute and having to vote on large omnibus bills.

“It’s impossible to represent you and how you deserve to be represented when we are continually put with one vote up or down on a big garbage bill full of everything,” he said.

He said the omnibus bill approach has also led to spending and debt, and the national debt is approaching $35 trillion.

Other things that need to be addressed include border security and the Farm Bill.

He said there has been an over 600% increase in fentanyl-related deaths, that he said can be directly attributed to “our nonexistent border” and then straight back to China.

“We have to be serious about this,” he said. “This shouldn’t be a political issue at all.”

He said border security issues are causing problems with workforce issues and quality of life.

The Farm Bill, he said, deals with not only nutrition programs including SNAP but also risk management and making sure there is a proper safety net in place for ag producers.

He asked those in attendance to consider how vulnerable the country would be from a national security standpoint if the nation was food insecure, comparing it to the shortages that have already been seen in the auto industry.

Attendees had the opportunity to visit with Finstad for a few minutes after his and Hoffman’s remarks and also take self-guided tours of parts of the building.