Enbridge to add 110 more jobs to downtown DuluthSo far, Enbridge Energy’s expansion to downtown Duluth has brought with it 130 good-paying jobs. But a lot more are coming.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
So far, Enbridge Energy’s expansion to downtown Duluth has brought with it 130 good-paying jobs.
But a lot more are coming.
“Out of the more than 700 (Enbridge) people working in the Twin Ports, we expect to have approximately 240 people located in downtown Duluth,”
Lorraine Little, Enbridge’s senior manager of U.S. public affairs, told the News Tribune last week.
That’s because the petroleum pipeline company is experiencing a boom it expects will last at least until 2018 and maybe longer.
While Enbridge’s corporate headquarters is in Calgary, Alberta, and its U.S. headquarters is in Houston, the Twin Ports has become Enbridge’s projects hub in the United States. Here, hundreds of its engineers, technicians and safety specialists plan proposed pipeline construction, the building of tanks and pump stations and the expansion of terminals and other facilities.
Enbridge has $26 billion in projects in the works, with most in the United States, Little told a Wednesday gathering of the Greater Downtown Council.
“The reason we’re expanding so much is because the supply source is changing,” she said.
With the crude oil opportunities from North Dakota’s Bakken formation and with the expansion of work in the Alberta oil sands region, the petroleum pipeline company expects that level of activity to continue to at least 2018, she said.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” she said.
Enbridge itself is investing $80 million in its Superior terminal — one of the company’s largest in the United States — which has close to 40 crude oil storage tanks and is adding two more.
Spurred by its growing number of projects, Enbridge last year leased 41,000 square feet in the Wieland Block, a three-building complex at 26-34 E. Superior St. in downtown Duluth. Another 25,000 square feet of offices are being created for Enbridge across the street at the Duluth Technology Village. That space should be completed in 60 days. Until then, staff members are in temporary offices in the building.
Both buildings are owned by A&L Properties.
In total, Enbridge has leased about 65,000 square feet of space in downtown Duluth since July. That’s actually enough to house 300 employees, said Rob Link, a principal partner with A&L Properties. Link used a standard real estate formula to compute staff size based on square footage.
“They’re just not on the job yet,” he said of the additional workers.
And Enbridge is considering leasing even more space in the Wieland Block. It could take over the former Justin Paul Salon space on the street level of the building, Link said. The salon recently closed.
“They could occupy that, too,” Link said. “It is contiguous with their other space in the building, and they have the first right of refusal of any adjacent space. I would say it is very likely they would take that space over.”
With the expansion to downtown Duluth, the company has acquired all the space it needs, Little told the News Tribune.
“While there may be some modest growth in the near future, we believe that we are very near our maximum size to the best that we can currently predict,” she said.
The 130 new jobs in downtown Duluth brings Enbridge’s total number of employees and contractors in the Twin Ports to 722, including technicians, engineers and maintenance workers. Their average salary is $82,000, Little said.
Being downtown allows Enbridge staff easy access to many of the architects, attorneys, contractors and sub-contractors they work with.
“It’s been working out great for our folks, and not just our employees,” Little said. “We do a lot of work with different businesses in and around Duluth. And this makes it accessible to meet them and to find meeting spaces within walking distance.”
Since Enbridge employees began moving in late last year, their presence has been felt.
“It’s great to see an additional influx of employees in that block,” said Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council. “It improves the energy and activity in our downtown. And it has an economic impact as some of the businesses have really noticed their presence.”
The expansion to downtown followed Enbridge’s leasing of a building at 4528 Mike Colalillo Drive in West Duluth, which houses about 100 workers.
“It’s packed full with two project teams,” Little said.
Enbridge’s employees in the Twin Ports are scattered in seven or eight buildings, which presents challenges.
“As soon as we have new space, we fill that up,” Little said.
While consolidating their employees into fewer locations would be ideal, establishing more permanent offices is difficult because their projects typically only last a few years. That’s why the lease for the Wieland Block, which started last July 1, is for two to six years.
When the projects are done, the jobs are done, Little said.
However, most of the Enbridge jobs in the Wieland Block are permanent corporate jobs, and those in the Technology Village are a mix of corporate and projects, according to both Link and Little.
“In theory, they can leave (when the lease is up), which they always say they’re going to do, but they never do,” Link said. “They are growing so much.”
And so far, Enbridge’s occupancy downtown is going very well, Link said.
“They’re happy, and we’re happy,” he said. “I think they’re going to be there a long time.”