Mayor Rybak: Investing in People, Common Ground and Small Business Grows the City
In annual State of the City speech, Mayor lays out agenda for strategic City involvement in promoting economic growth, praises public employees for creating private-sector jobs
March 8, 2011 (MINNEAPOLIS) — In the fifth consecutive State of the City speech that he has delivered about economic growth, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak today laid out an agenda for continued, strategic City investments in people, the common ground and small business that set the stage for job and economic growth. Mayor Rybak reported on the current results of these investments and called for taking advantage of growth opportunities in transit-oriented development and in promoting entrepreneurship and exports.
Growing the city is critical, Mayor Rybak said, because every good new job and every new resident contributes to growing the tax base, which relieves the property-tax pressure on current residents and homeowners.
Mayor Rybak began the annual State of the City address by heralding the strength and diversity of Minneapolis economy. He noted that just this morning, a study by a national professional-recruiting firm named Minneapolis the best city in the country for finding employment, praising its low 6.5% unemployment rate, diversity of industries that have weathered the recession, low crime rate and high quality of life. That ranking, along with the fact that most months of the year, Minneapolis’ unemployment rate is lower than that of its suburbs and the state, "is no accident," and is a reflection of the success of the City’s strategic investments in growth.
Mayor Rybak also pointed out that even though the economic history of Minneapolis’ transformation from the milling capital of the world into a service economy and creative capital with global reach is well known, "We still make things in Minneapolis." He cited a variety of specific products from a wide range of sectors that are currently made in Minneapolis.
Mayor Rybak called for taking advantage of three areas where the efforts of the City and other partners have created current opportunities to grow jobs, business and the tax base in Minneapolis:
Transit Oriented Development corridors. Mayor Rybak cited as TOD opportunities:
• The West Bank, where Riverside Plaza revitalization and Central Corridor light rail will open up 12 new development sites;
• Lake and Nicollet, with new freeway access and a planned Bus Rapid Transit station, along with potential transit on the Midtown Greenway;
• the Market District, where a new light-rail station and the County’s interchange project near Target Field will create new pedestrian and economic opportunities in a burgeoning residential neighborhood;
• and the Hiawatha light-rail corridor.
• Mayor Rybak today announced the partnership that City of Minneapolis economic-development staff helped facilitate between CoCo, a local company that provides co-working space for entrepreneurs, and Project Skyway, Minnesota’s first accelerator for startup software companies. Together, they will launch their inaugural class for software startups this summer.
• Yesterday, the Obama administration announced that the federal Small Business Administration is expanding its E200 mini-MBA program for emerging entrepreneurs to Minneapolis, which makes the metro region firmly part of President’s Startup America entrepreneurship initiative. City economic-development staff have helped facilitate E200’s arrival in Minneapolis.
• Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is working closely with Mayor Rybak and regional business leaders on launching Accelerate MSP, an initiative focused on creating more opportunities for startups and entrepreneurship in the region.
Last month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined Mayor Rybak and hundreds of local businesses at a day-long event to promote export opportunities for small and midsize businesses, which was part of President Obamas recently announced goal of doubling American exports in five years. The MinneapolisSaint Paul region ranks 14 th in the country in exports.
• Mayor Rybak is traveling to Sweden next month with a group of local business leaders to promote export opportunities there.
In addition to seizing these opportunities for growth, Mayor Rybak called for continued focus on enhancing a creative environment and quality of life that help businesses attract and retain talent. Events like the City of Lakes Loppet and amenities like Nice Ride Minnesota bike share, a world-class parks system and a great arts and music scene help Minneapolis attract and retain talent, especially in Minneapolis’ creative economy, and should be nurtured and expanded.
Just like growth in the economy, growth in the creative environment benefits everyone, the Mayor said, because when more people choose to live and work in the city, the value of commercial properties rises and the tax base expands, which spreads out the property-tax burden and relieves pressure on homeowners.
The Mayor also highlighted key results of the investments that the City has made in people, the common ground and small business:
• Over 12,000 adults have been placed in good jobs over the last eight years as a result of the City’s job-training and –placement efforts.
• Over 12,000 Minneapolis youth have received paid, high-quality job training through the summer STEP-UP internship program.
• Violent crime in Minneapolis is at a 27-year-low and violent and property crime together are at a 47-year low. In key commercial districts including West Broadway and downtown, violent crime has declined due to targeted enforcement by strategic partnerships. Gun violence has also fallen 23% since last summer in the wake of a new partnership between City, County and federal law-enforcement officials to target the most violent gun offenders.
• In the last two paving seasons, the City has resurfaced or sealcoated 32 miles of busy streets and will improve 25 more this year, many of them in commercial corridors, as part of the five-year Infrastructure Acceleration Program. The City will also begin an additional five-year program of significant investment in street improvements this year.
• The remaking of Marquette and Second Avenues for bus rapid transit has cut travel times for commuters, increased ridership on key corridors and moved most buses off Nicollet Avenue, increasing development potential there.
• Nice Ride Minnesota broke the 100,000-ride mark in its first season last year, and was just awarded $1 million by Bike Walk Twin Cities and a $500,000 match from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota to expand into more neighborhoods this year, including North Minneapolis.
The Citys revolving 2% loan program for small business made its 1,000 th loan last year. Over time, the 2% loan program has helped create 2,000 jobs and retain 9,300 more, and has leveraged three dollars in private investment for every dollar loaned. The program has a 97% repayment rate.
Mayor Rybak also highlighted three initiatives in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, where Augsburg College is located, that are providing jobs for residents and helping to dramatically transform the neighborhood:
• Urban Scrubs camp. In its first year last year, this project of the Cedar-Riverside partnership, which is chaired by Augsburg President Pribbenow, brought together 70 inner-city high-school students — one-third from the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood — for a week of intensive, hands-on exposure to healthcare careers.
• Construction of Fairview Children’s Hospital. Fairview and general contractor Kraus-Anderson exceeded all goals set in a workforce agreement with the City for participation by women, people of color, apprentices and neighborhood residents. All work done on the project was with union labor and contractors.
• Revitalization of Riverside Plaza. Developer George Sherman will soon break ground on the revitalization of more than 1,300 units of affordable housing in this iconic structure. This work will create 250 jobs, including 90 set aside for Riverside Plaza and neighborhood residents in a development agreement negotiated with the City, which calls for other public amenities as well.
Mayor Rybak also said that just as city government should know when to get involved in promoting economic growth, it should also "know when to get out of the way." He pointed to the results of streamlining the review of licenses and development plans as evidence that the City is making it easier to do business in Minneapolis.
In conclusion, Mayor Rybak stated forcefully that while there a "great debate" in our country about the role that government should play in fostering economic growth, that debate "should not be used an as an opportunity to scapegoat public employees." Instead, he said, public employees deserve thanks for their hard work in helping to create thousands of private-sector jobs in Minneapolis.
Mayor Rybak delivered his address to an audience of more than 400 in Hoversten Chapel at Augsburg College. City Council President Barbara Johnson opened the special meeting of the City Council and Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow welcomed the Mayor. Mayor Rybaks State of the City speech today was his 10 th since taking office in 2002.
Published Mar. 8, 2011