Returning to Congress in 2013 after more than 32 years in domestic and international business and community work and starting his second term in 2015 after reelection, Congressman Rick Nolan represents Minnesota’s sprawling 8th District – 18 counties that run from the top of the state’s Duluth/Lake Superior Arrowhead region, through some of the nation’s richest mining, timber, lakes and tourist country, to the fast-growing northern suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
He was recently named one of the top ten most effective Members of Congress in a study by the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University. He was also singled out by TIME magazine for his leadership in keeping America out of war with Syria. His leadership across the board has earned him praise from various Labor, business and consumer groups throughout the nation.
Rick grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota on the Cuyuna Range in the heart of the state’s lake country. His father, Hank, was a postal worker. His mother, Mary, was a homemaker who supplemented the family income in the area resort industry. Along with his brother, Jim, and sister, Mary Pat, Rick began his lifelong enjoyment of hunting, fishing and the outdoors at an early age.
A father of 4 and grandfather of 10, Rick has been married to Mary Nolan for more than 30 years. The Nolan homestead in rural Crosby is a regular gathering place for 5 generations of Nolans who together tap maple syrup in spring, harvest wild rice in the fall, and never miss a hunting or fishing opener.
Rick worked his way through the University of Minnesota as a proud Local 638 UPS Teamster, and later taught high school social studies in Royalton, Minnesota. He directed the North Central Minnesota 19-unit Head Start program and was curriculum coordinator for the Little Falls Adult Education program. He did post-graduate work at St. Cloud State University, Central Lakes College and the University of Maryland.
After serving as a staff assistant to then Minnesota Walter F. Mondale from 1966 to 1968, he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1968 representing Morrison County in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 2 terms. At 24, he was one of the youngest people ever to serve in the Minnesota Legislature.
Rick was elected to Congress from Minnesota’s 6th District, which then encompassed 22 central and southwestern counties, in 1974, arriving in Washington as part of a record number of new Members at the onset of the post-Watergate era.
During his 3 terms from 1975-1981, he was recognized nationwide for his battles on behalf of working families, farmers, small businesses and rural communities. Rick was honored during those years to be named a “Most Respected Member of Congress” by syndicated columnist Jack Anderson in his widely read column, “Congress Watch.”
Rick decided to leave Congress in 1980 to spend more time with his young family and pursue private business. In the ensuing years, he devoted much of his professional energy to generating Minnesota jobs through exports and trade. Establishing his own business, U.S. Export Corporation, he worked with then Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich to build and operate the Minnesota World Trade Center in downtown St. Paul. He later served as president of the Minnesota World Trade Center Corporation and chaired the International Association of World Trade Centers’ Trade and Policy Committee, the world’s largest private sector international trade group.
Rick is also the former owner of Emily Wood Products, a small sawmill and pallet factory in the northern Minnesota community of Emily. He successfully built the business and generated good jobs in the area. Rick’s daughter and son-in-law now own and operate the enterprise.
Continuing his public service, Rick became chairman of his local Mission Township Planning Committee, and chairman of the Central Lakes College Foundation, raising money for disadvantaged students of all ages.
Rick retains his previous seniority as a 5th term Member.