Good economic news in Minneapolis

I’m excited to share some new data that represents good economic news for Minneapolis, in both jobs and housing.

First, good news about jobs in Minneapolis:

  • From mid-2010 to mid-2011, 5,300 new jobs were created in Minneapolis.
  • That’s the fastest rate of job growth in Minneapolis since 2006.
  • What’s more, 2,300 more Minneapolis residents now have jobs.
  • This growth means that Minneapolis’ unemployment rate has fallen to 5.3% — the level it was at in October 2008, when the Great Recession first hit.
  • Minneapolis’ unemployment rate is the same as that of the broader metro area and lower than that of the state.

At the City of Minneapolis, we worked hard through the height of the recession, as now, to mitigate its effects, by helping Minneapolis residents train for and find good jobs.

Minneapolis is one of the only cities in the country that runs its own employment and training programs. As a result, we are more nimble and better equipped to meet the fast-changing needs of employers and get workers into growing careers. Even with tough budget cuts, we have not cut our employment and training programs because we know how important they are to getting families back on their feet.

This work continues to pay off. In 2011 alone:

  • We placed 572 low-income workers into well-paid jobs.
  • We provided career planning and skills training for 1,041 dislocated workers.
  • We placed 339 dislocated workers into new, living-wage jobs.

One very successful employment and training program is RENEW. It’s a joint program between Minneapolis and Saint Paul–Ramsey County that trains and places workers who have faced tough challenges in finding work into highly-paid, green-economy careers. It was originally funded by President Obama’s Recovery Act.

  • Through RENEW, we have trained 586 workers and placed 311 workers in their new fields.
  • Steve Haslach is one worker who lost his job when the recession hit who sought training through RENEW and is now back in the workforce at Applied Energy Innovations, a Minneapolis company that does solar installations and sustainable construction. Watch Steve talk about his new career.

In addition, we continue to prepare the next generation for meaningful employment — which means growing our economy for the long term:

  • In 2011, we placed 1,980 youth into high-quality STEP-UP summer jobs.
  • Since 2004, we have placed 14,000 youth into STEP-UP.
  • These youth are 86% from families of color, 93% from families living in poverty and 50% from immigrant families. They speak 100 languages and are the key to our future economic competitiveness.

There’s good news on the housing front, too.

  • In 2011, foreclosures fell 25% compared to 2010.
  • Foreclosures are down 50% compared to 2008.
  • The City of Minneapolis prevented 388 foreclosures in 2011.
  • Since 2008, the City of Minneapolis and its partners have prevented 1,428 foreclosures.
  • Minneapolis continues to lead the region in new housing: in 2011, new units permitted rose 12% and the dollar amount of permit activity rose 36%.

This recession has been tougher than any since the Great Depression and we’re not out of the woods yet. Like everywhere in America, we have a ways to go before we recover all the jobs that we lost when the recession bottomed out in early 2009. And too many people are still losing their homes to foreclosure.

But like everywhere in America, we’re also benefitting from 23 straight months of private-sector job growth.

Unlike a lot of places in America, however, we have weathered the recession better than other cities because we have had the right mix of aggressive, pro-growth policies to mitigate its effects and keep growing Minneapolis’ economy for the long term.

We’ve had some great partners in the private and nonprofit sectors, as well as at other levels of government, including the Obama administration. Above all, we’ve had great partners in the residents of Minneapolis, who have survivved a terrible time. We know that for many people, “recovery” will not mean getting back everything that they lost, but we’re working to make “recovery” mean that everyone has the tools and opportunities that they need to succeed again. And we won’t rest until every Minneapolis resident has them.



When the economy works for everyone, everyone benefits

At a time when so many people are still hurting and the economic recovery is fragile, we must work together to reduce the inequalities that make our economic challenges harder to overcome.  It’s a simple principle: when the economy works for everyone, everyone benefits.

To make this happen, we all have to get up off the sidelines and recognize that each of us has an obligation to play a constructive role.

Financial institutions must do everything they can to negotiate in good faith with homeowners to prevent foreclosure. We know that it costs $400 to prevent a foreclosure, but costs the public and the private sector up to $80,000 to put a home through foreclosure. It’s not only the right thing to do, it just makes sense. Banks and lenders need to do a lot more.

Local governments have a role to play, too, and in Minneapolis we have played it aggressively.  Since 2008, the City, working closely with nonprofits, has prevented 1,428 foreclosures — nearly a third of them in North Minneapolis. It’s not enough, but that represents a lot of people and families still in their homes.

We’ve done more. Working hand in hand with North Minneapolis neighborhood organizations and adv, the City sued a mortgage flipper that had been convicted of defrauding home buyers and sending their homes into foreclosure. We took 155 properties away from them and got them in the hands of responsible nonprofit partners and homeowners. We worked every step of the way with housing and foreclosure activists on that one.

We’ve taken many other steps to revitalize the neighborhoods that have been most heavily affected by the foreclosure crisis. We’ve purchased homes before speculators and unscrupulous landlords could. We’ve worked with nonprofit developers to revitalize properties and have hired disproportionate numbers of low-income people, women and people of color to do the work. And we’ve created incentives for families and community to people to buy them affordably.

This is work that we’ve been doing every day for more than four years. I wish we never had to it, but when the crisis hit, we responded.

Even with this work, the foreclosure crisis is bigger than all the resources that Minneapolis has to stop it. We simply can’t solve all the issues of the global economy in Minneapolis. We can, however, fight to close the gaps and level the playing field, and we will keep doing just that.

Every day, more and more people are unwilling to silently watch inequalities continue and watch the economy struggle more than it needs to as a result.  We must all ask more of each other and of ourselves.

A good deal for Minneapolis

Yesterday, I stood with Governor Mark Dayton, legislative leaders, labor leaders, business leaders and representatives of the Minnesota Vikings to announce a two-part deal that is very good for Minneapolis.

A new stadium at the Metrodome site, with Vikings’ paying more than half of a $1-billion investment

The first part: We will build a new stadium Minneapolis at the Metrodome site — and the Vikings will pay more than half the cost.

It simply makes sense:  the site that has been the home of the Minnesota Vikings for the last 30 years will be its home for the next 30 years, on the lowest-cost site that takes advantage of the infrastructure already in place. Building the new Vikings stadium at that location has been the policy of the City for many years.

And it simply makes sense that the private contribution will be greater than the public contribution.

This new stadium is a $1-billion investment that will support 13,000 much-needed, union jobs during construction, at a time when unemployment in the construction trades is at a crisis level. It will also support another 3,400 permanent jobs after construction. The vast majority of these jobs will go to Minnesotans, with a significant portion of them going to Minneapolis residents, especially those from neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and unemployment.

This stadium will be owned by the public and open for non-Vikings events 355 days a year. It will be a world-class facility that will ensure that Minneapolis remains the #1 sports and entertainment destination in the upper Midwest — and that ensures business and good jobs for bars and restaurants both downtown and across Minneapolis.

Over the 30-year life cycle of the stadium, the Vikings will contribute more than half the cost — just over 50% — of building, operating and maintaining it. The City of Minneapolis will contribute less than a quarter — just 22.7%.

Target Center, Convention Center and property-tax relief

The second part: Just as importantly, the deal provides Minneapolis with the resources and flexibility to accomplish the #1 goal of the City Council, Council President Barbara Johnson and me: securing the future of the Minneapolis Convention Center, renovating Target Center and providing property-tax relief for Minneapolis residents and businesses.

For far too long, Minneapolis property taxpayers alone have unfairly borne the burden of Target Center debt. The reason that Council President Johnson and I have been at the table has been to win property-tax relief — and we’ve said all along that we would not agree to any stadium deal that did not do that. Yesterday, we won what we’ve been fighting for.

No new taxes

We will accomplish all of this — build a new $1-billion People’s Stadium, renovate the Target Center, secure a competitive Convention Center and above all, provide much-needed property-tax relief — with no new taxes. We will do so by using only existing, State-authorized sales and user taxes that are currently collected in Minneapolis, the so-called “Convention Center taxes,” that are paid by the 18 million people who visit, work or spend a dollar in Minneapolis each year. Not one dollar of property taxes. Not one dollar of income taxes.

The economics and politics of a good deal

Like a lot of people, I’m a fan of Minnesota’s professional sports — but I’m not a fan of the economics of professional sports. Despite that context, this is a very good deal for Minneapolis. For less than one-quarter of the total project cost, we will secure a $1-billion investment that will create tens of thousands of jobs, and that will give us the flexibility and resources to accomplish our top goals of lowering property taxes and ensuring the future of the Target Center and the Convention Center.

In the political context, too, this is also a very good deal for Minneapolis. As I’ve said before, the Legislature has the power simply to take away the Convention Center taxes — and legislative leaders made it clear that they might do just that, which would put an even greater burden on Minneapolis property taxpayers. But because Council President Johnson and I were at the table fighting for Minneapolis, those revenues —paid by 18 million people a year — will come in for three more decades. And for the first time ever, we can use them for property-tax relief.

Coming together in a great city

Now that the City, State and team have come together on this very good deal for Minneapolis, the City Council and the Legislature must approve it. The question they must answer is, what kind of city and state are we going to be?

Minneapolis is a great city because we have made big investments that have made it a great place to live. This deal builds on that tradition.

But Minneapolis is also a practical city, where our residents rightly demand that we look out for their wallets. This deal builds on that tradition as well.

In a great city that has accomplished great things, we can come together to approve this deal to create another great place for people to come together for the next generation.

Council President Johnson and I strongly urge you to contact your City Council member, State Senator and State Representative and ask them to come together to support it.

(Not sure who represents you? Find your Council member here and find your legislators here.)