Working People, Working Lands, Working Together

An Economic Development Plan for Renewed Prosperity in Minnesota’s 8th District

Executive Summary


Leah & family in front of Range Catering in Virginia, MN. Owned and operated by her great-grandma Grace Ceryance for 35 years.

Leah & family in front of Range Catering in Virginia, MN. Owned and operated by her great-grandma Grace Ceryance for 35 years.

Leah Phifer’s roots run four generations deep within Northeastern Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. Women in Leah’s family have owned and operated small businesses, enriching local economies from Isanti to Virginia. Men in her family worked in the Iron Range mining industry. Spending her childhood on the North Shore and moving with her family in 2002 to Isanti County, Leah grew up fishing, swimming, hiking and enjoying the abundance and natural beauty of Northeastern Minnesota.

Leah’s commitment to the region and her desire to hear directly from the people of the district led to the launch of her listening tour, “Around the 8th in 80 Days.” For three months in the summer of  2017, Leah met and listened to people in small town cafes, county fairs and parades from Cook County to Isanti County and all points in-between. She heard the hopes, dreams and fears of workers in all industries – health care workers at the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic in Grand Marais, farmers in Carlton County, Steelworkers in Babbit and small business owners across the district. Leah learned that many people are concerned with rising inequality in not only wages, but in economic opportunity. Across the district, she discovered there is a disconnect between hard-working Minnesotans and the resources they need to succeed in a 21st Century economy.

It’s these one-to-one conversations with people throughout the 8th District that are the cornerstone of the bold economic plan that Leah Phifer has developed to ensure the resources necessary for a vibrant region where all residents thrive. Leah’s plan is built on strongly held DFL values with fresh ideas encompassing three main themes:

Working People – Hard working people and small businesses form the foundation of the vibrant communities spread across Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. Leah’s economic plan prioritizes stability and growth for small businesses, ensures a skilled workforce to meet demand and prevents and/or repairs gaps in our critical rural services.

Working Lands – Tomorrow’s economy depends on solid groundwork that needs to be done today. Leah’s economic plan calls for bold investment in the infrastructure necessary to build a prosperous future including roads and bridges, rural broadband and support for expanded public transportation, like the Northern Lights Express. Leah also prioritizes investment in clean energy and proposes new and fresh ideas to stabilize and secure the taconite mining industry.

Working Together – Her tour of the district was an example of Leah’s dedication to community engagement. She listens. And she knows that collaborating with and empowering communities to tackle their most pressing issues is one of the best things federal government can and should do. She will be a dedicated partner and a champion for all communities in securing a sound economic future throughout the 8th District.

Leah Phifer, as a candidate for Congress, will be releasing components of this economic development plan in each of these areas over the next three weeks. The entire plan will be available by February 1st, in time for consideration at the precinct caucuses on February 6th. For questions or comments about the plan, please contact us at