Mayor Rybak Proposes Economic Opportunity Agenda
Proposals create local jobs, by tapping global markets and new green economy
March 25, 2009 (MINNEAPOLIS) -- In his annual State of the City Address today, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak unveiled an aggressive economic plan to put more people to work, grow local businesses, tap global markets in China, and revitalize the city’s housing market. Beyond a plan for economic recovery, Mayor Rybak called for residents and businesses to reinvent themselves for a new economy.
"The past, whether we like it or not, is over," Rybak said. "The old ways of doing business have literally run out of gas. Across Minneapolis and throughout this region, we need to not just recover, not just rebuild, we must reinvent. To keep growing, we must reinvent how we create economic opportunity, reinvent a new way of working, and reinvent the partnerships between citizens, businesses, schools and government."
Mayor Rybak said that the City has been able to meet the demands of this tough economic reality because of the strong foundations in place to put people to work and build small businesses:
Since 2002, the City has helped train and place more than 10,000 dislocated and low-income adults into good quality jobs.
- More than 12% of the jobs in Minneapolis are in health care, the fastest growing part of the Minneapolis economy. According to the Brookings Institution, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area accounts for 22% of the entire national output of biomedical devices.
- In the last year, the City financed $1.8 million in loans for business development projects, and provided $530,000 in façade improvement grants to small businesses along 26 commercial streets.
- Using $14 million in new federal funds in combination with the city, state and private resources already in place, Minneapolis now has amassed more than $90 million to acquire, redevelop, and resell homes in neighborhoods hard hit by the foreclosure crisis.
- Unlike most American cities, the unemployment rate in Minneapolis continues to be lower than the rest of the metro, lower than the state, and lower than the national unemployment rates.
- The number of job training workshops held in Minneapolis Work Force Centers this last year increased 75% compared to 2007 (from 2,155 to 3,775 workshops). Forty percent of the people at these Work Force Centers had college or more education.
- With funds from the federal Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the City will help an additional 290 laid-off workers and 200 more low-income workers receive training to get back to work.
"In the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, in the middle of a neighborhood hit hard by unemployment and foreclosure, I found hope in an unlikely place," Mayor Rybak said. "At the Workforce Center at Chicago and Lake, where unemployed residents sought counseling, training and motivation to get back into the job market, I met people ready to reinvent themselves."
Rybak’s Opportunity Agenda
Mayor Rybak used the bulk of his speech to lay out a series of initiatives to continue strengthening the Minneapolis regional economy using five overarching strategies: investing in people, home-growing local businesses, reaching globally, incubating innovation, and building stronger partnerships. New initiatives included:
- Create a Green Jobs Institute to train and place workers into new green jobs. The City is working with Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Dunwoody College, and Summit Academy to develop a training curriculum with the Center for Energy and the Environment for three growing green job areas: home weatherization, energy audits and green buildings.
- Launch the Homegrown Minneapolis initiative to build the market for locally grown, healthy, and environmentally sustainable food by working with farmers markets, community and backyard gardens, small enterprise urban agriculture, and grocery stores.
- Leverage international business relationships with countries like China to open up new markets for Minneapolis-based companies around the world. Towards this end, Mayor Rybak announced that he is going to China in May to speak at the International Forum on Development of High-Tech Enterprises. While there, he will work to foster business relationships to secure future business for Minneapolis-based companies, and to position Minneapolis as a destination for leisure travel and technical study.
- Convene an economic roundtable with leaders in business, labor, education, and the civic community to address how to best to position Minneapolis and region for immediate economic recovery and long term future growth.
A Shining Example of Economic Reinvention: Coloplast
Mayor Rybak delivered his State of the City Address at Coloplast, a Denmark-based medical device company that recently moved its North American headquarters onto the west bank of the Mississippi River in north Minneapolis. Coloplast’s beautiful new $35 million campus will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified Silver, will include one of the company’s three global Innovation Centers and will house approximately 500 employees in sales, marketing, research and development, with specific goals to hire north Minneapolis residents.
"Coloplast is reinventing the Upper River and the surrounding neighborhoods of north Minneapolis," Mayor Rybak said. "Coloplast is now a successful avenue for local residents to become employed at one of the most successful medical device companies in the world. In the process, we are showing once again that Minneapolis is a city of opportunity."
"Anyone who doubts what a global economy can do for Minneapolis doesn’t have to look beyond this very building. Minneapolis’ business and city leaders have tried for decades to move a major employer into north Minneapolis and it finally happened because of a company from Denmark. Thank you, Coloplast, for showing us that the global economy is a world of opportunity."
Published Mar. 25, 2009