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, included expanding access to rural broadband. It also lays out clear goals to build a skilled workforce required to meet demand and prevent and/or repair gaps in critical rural services. Click on the links below for details to the plan:

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 and support for expanded public transportation, like the Northern Lights Express. Leah also prioritizes investment in clean energy and lays the groundwork to make Minnesota's 8th District a leader in the creation of clean energy jobs.  Click on the links below for details to the plan:

Working Together – Her tour of the district was an example of Leah’s dedication to community engagement. She listens. And she knows that we must come up with innovative, new ways of addressing challenges that have been affecting our workforce for decades. Leah's family has worked in the mining industry for four generations, experiencing the layoffs and mine closures that are consistent with the cyclical nature of the mining industry. Stabilizing this critical industry, while providing reliable access to important materials for our country's security, is the backbone of her proposal on the creation of a U.S. Strategic Metals Reserve. Click on the link below for details to the plan:

For questions or comments about the plan, please contact us at