About 90 business and civic leaders from Sacramento descended on Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, last week, where they toured historic neighborhoods, rode the light rail and strolled down a vibrant riverfront as part of the annual study mission by the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.
While the Twin Cities region is roughly the same size as the Sacramento region, it has an unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent compared to Sacramento’s 5.8 percent, according to federal statistics. Fifteen Fortune 500 companies are headquartered there.
Part of that success stems from a mastery of the public-private partnership, said Chamber CEO Peter Tateishi.
Here are three lessons from the Twin Cities.
Developers have taken advantage of state and federal tax credits to renovate historic buildings, and take extra care to show the value of neighborhood improvement. Builders focus on celebrating the historical value of buildings while improving their allure to younger generations, Tateishi said.
Downtown developers “are aware of the implications of gentrification and in front of that issue,” he said.
Inclusivity in public transit
City planners readily acknowledge political problems that ensued from the build-out of the flagship Blue Line of the city’s rail system, which runs from downtown Minneapolis to the international airport. So when the city began construction on a Green Line in 2010 to connect downtown business districts with the University of Minnesota, businesses groups and elected officials sought to ensure buy-in from all affected groups.
Officials aimed to place stations in ethnic neighborhoods and ensure that all sports facilities were accessible by rail — two key ingredients for success, Minneapolis officials said.
If there was a central theme from the trip, it was the idea of collaboration, Tateishi said. Over many years, the business and civic community has focused on aligning regional initiatives so they are not competitive with one another.
For example, a CEO-led group called the Itasca Project has taken a lead role in closing the ethnic diversity gap. The group has a regional dashboard that shows a wealth of economic indicators, including socio-economic disparities. CEOs are strategic in connecting the right people “so you don’t have 1,400 groups all trying to work on a piece of something,” Tateishi said.
“You would think they are all on the same talking points and that someone had scripted the same message – but they really have a unified message and they are all in,” he said.
Source: Sacramento Business Journal