City Support for Jobs, Small Business Helps Minneapolis Mitigate Effects of Recession
Mayor Rybak releases detailed information on City’s active role in creating and retaining jobs, helping Minneapolis economy weather recession better than other large cities
July 29, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) — At an event today at the new offices of expanding South Minneapolis marketing and branding firm Zeus Jones, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was joined by small-business owners and formerly displaced workers in highlighting some of the ways that the job-creation and -retention work of the City’s Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) has helped mitigate the effects of the recession in Minneapolis and helped the city weather it better than other large cities.
Minneapolis’ June 2010 unemployment rate of 6.7% is below the state rate of 6.8% and well below the national rate of 9.6%. In one year, the unemployment rate dropped in Minneapolis from a recession-high 8.5% in June 2009 to last month’s 6.7%. Last month, nearly 4,600 more Minneapolis residents were working than were working in June 2009.
CPED has played an important role in Minneapolis recovery: its jobs initiatives helped businesses create or retain 5,275 jobs in 2009 alone. CPED supports job creation and retention in a variety of ways, including through helping small businesses with low-interest loans and technical assistance, and by training and placing displaced or hard-to-place workers. Detailed information on jobs created and retained in 2009 as a result of CPED strategies is available here: /mayor/news/cped_docs_jobs_fact_sheet
"At the City of Minneapolis, we are laser-focused on creating and retaining jobs, and we havent let the recession stop us," said Mayor R.T. Rybak. "In fact, weve redoubled our efforts during the recession: were aggressively investing in people, investing in small business and investing in the innovations that are the foundation of a strong, 21 st-century economy that will sustain good jobs well into the future."
"We are working hard every day to support the small businesses that are the engine of job creation in Minneapolis and to provide them with all the tools they can possibly need in order to succeed and grow more jobs," said City Council Member Lisa Goodman, chair of the Council’s Community Development Committee. "The City’s work is already paying off in neighborhoods across our city."
The City’s recent jobs-related success stories include:
• Zeus Jones. This nationally-recognized marketing and branding firm, which started up three years ago with four co-founders, is now approaching 20 employees and is currently hiring. The City of Minneapolis assisted them with a 2% loan (which supplemented a private-sector loan) and in securing their much larger, brand-new offices on Lyndale Ave. S.
o "We asked the City for help, and the City delivered," said Zeus Jones co-founder Rob White. "As a result, we’ve been able to create the kind of space we need to keep doing innovative work and to grow in Minneapolis."
o City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren said, "Zeus Jones’ success is a sign of the strength of the critically important creative sector in Minneapolis."
• Chopper College. This business of 19 employees moved from Chicago to Minneapolis two years ago. Chopper College teaches people to build motorcycles from the ground up, with a focus on building alternative-fuel motorcycles. In the last two years, CPED has assisted Chopper College by connecting it to: Minneapolis Community and Technical College for help in developing customized curriculum; the Minneapolis Chamber Green Business Expo, where they exhibited two green choppers this year; and Lifescience Alley.
o Tom Creal, Sr. of Chopper College said, "Success is all about building networks, and the City of Minneapolis has actively helped us build those networks. Overall, the City has been extremely responsive: even after two years, they still take our calls and emails and are always there for us."
• Barbara Banks. Barbara Banks, a Minneapolis resident, was laid off from a small nonprofit. With the help of specialized training that she received through the City’s dislocated-worker programs, in January 2010 — 16 months after being laid off — she was able start full-time in her chosen field at Best Buy, earning 25% more than she had before being laid off.
o "Being laid off can be emotionally devastating, but it can also open up the door of opportunity, even if you don’t believe it right away," she said. "You have to work hard and be resourceful, but with the training I received through the City, combined with personal relationships and networking, I was able to land the job of my dreams."
• Dinsdale Thomas. Dinsdale Thomas, a Minneapolis resident, was laid off as a laborer for a roofing company where he was making $13 an hour. With the help of HIRED, a City-funded job-training agency, as well as other City funding, he was able to realize a lifelong dream and attend barber school. (He had inherited his father’s barbering tools after his father died of a heart attack behind his barber’s chair.) Now he earns up to $34 an hour and is planning to open his own shop someday.
o "I was doing physically demanding and mentally draining work and never thought I’d be able to go to barber school. With help of the City and my counselor at HIRED, I’m now living out my dream," he said.
In addition to CPEDs job-creation efforts, in the last year, the City of Minneapolis has also been able to create jobs for 2,025 people thanks to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The City of Minneapolis has been awarded $63.4 million in Recovery Act dollars, of which $14.8 million has been spent thus far to create jobs. The City maintains detailed information about the effects of the Recovery Act on Minneapolis here: Recovery website.
Mayor Rybak added, "While we’re proud of our successes in creating and retaining good jobs in Minneapolis, thankfully we’re not doing this work alone: we have a fantastic partner that gets it in the Obama Administration. Without President Obama’s bold leadership in putting federal resources to work in fueling recovery, people in Minneapolis — and the entire country — would be facing much more time before our economy fully recovers and dealing with much more pain."
Minneapolis is also unique among most large American cities in that its unemployment rate is lower than that of its surrounding area and state most months of the year. In 13 of the 20 months since the recession began in the fall of 2008, Minneapolis’ unemployment rate has remained below the rates for the metro area and Minnesota as a whole. Last month, Minneapolis’ 6.7% unemployment rate was tied with the metro area’s rate.
The MinneapolisSaint Paul metro area is receiving national recognition as a region that has weathered the recession well and is recovering faster than other regions. Forbes Magazine rated Minneapolis–Saint Paul the #4 U.S. metropolitan area where the recession is easing, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently showed that Minneapolis–Saint Paul was one of only two regions nationally to record a year-on-year drop in the unemployment rate.
Published Jul. 29, 2010