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HERO Center gets $1.46M in state funding

Funding for a local public safety training facility was included in an $846 million bonding bill passed last week by state lawmakers before they adjourned for the year.

The Health and Emergency Response Occupations (HERO) Center project, a public safety and education training center planned for Cottage Grove, will receive $1.46 million in state-borrowed funds in the bonding bill. The funding will be used to pay for design plans.

The $20 million project is proposed to be the first training and education facility in the east metro that would cater to EMS, police and fire personnel. Cost-sharing partnerships with Inver Hills Community College and Regions Hospital in St. Paul would also afford students and health care professionals access to the facility, an aspect City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said may have helped get the project included in the bill.

“As we made our rounds with potential business partners and higher (education) and Regions, our medical direction, we found that everybody has the same type of need, a need for flexible training space that has the opportunity to train as many (public safety) disciplines,” said Craig Woolery, director of public safety. “This is truly a shared project.”

Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, agreed.

“I think what really helped get this on the bill this year was the fact that this brings higher education closer to more residents in the southeast metro, specifically south Washington County,” he said.

The public would also be able to use the facility’s proposed indoor firing range.

The HERO Center is one of five public safety projects in the bonding bill, including the Maplewood East Metro Public Training Facility, which is tailored toward fire training.

The proposed 60,000- to 70,000-square-foot HERO facility is slated to be constructed on shovel-ready land adjacent from the new Cottage Grove City Hall.

“There is fiber optics already there, the infrastructure is there, the land is wide open,” Schoen said. “We will see more when the day comes when we can finally have the culmination of this being built. It will be amazing and it will be busy.”