In the past couple weeks, I’ve written about the investments in our streets and infrastructure — the common ground that helps everyone succeed — and in making sure those streets are safe that are in my 2013 budget. Today, I’d like to write about my budget’s investments in helping people find jobs and growing Minneapolis’ economy.
Investing in people
During the toughest years of the great recession, we have kept up our investments in our workforce programs that help people train for and find jobs. Minneapolis is one of the few cities in the country to coordinate its own workforce programs, which means we work closely with employers to train and place workers in growing sectors of the economy.
Those investments, which I continue in my 2013 budget, have made a difference. From 2008– 2011, we placed 4,051 dislocated workers and hard-to-employ adults in good jobs. This investment is one reason that Minneapolis’ most recent unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent, the lowest since the recession began in late 2008.
We still have a long way to go to recover, and too many families have lost jobs, homes and prosperity. But there are encouraging signs that we’re on the right path, and Minneapolis routinely tops national lists of cities recovering fastest from the recession, or the best cities to find a job or start a career.
At the same time, Minneapolis tops a list that none of us is proud of: we have one of the largest gaps between white and African American employment in America. My budget continues to invest in closing this shameful disparity through the One Minneapolis initiative.
One of the most successful aspects of One Minneapolis is RENEW. Initially funded by stimulus dollars from the Obama Administration, RENEW trains and places people in green-economy jobs who have faced challenges finding employment. We’ve gotten strong results here as well: we have trained 586 people and placed two-thirds of them in jobs in 21st-century economy.
We are also training the workforce of tomorrow. Since we started the STEP-UP summer-jobs program in 2004, we have placed almost 18,000 Minneapolis young people in good-paying summer jobs with most of the city’s best companies and nonprofits. More than 85% of them are kids of color, 93% of them are from families living in poverty and 50% of them are from immigrant families. These youth are our future workforce and the future of our prosperity.
Investing in business
My budget will continue to invest in people, and in helping businesses succeed, particularly small businesses.
From 2008–11, we have used a variety of low-cost financing tools to make almost 700 low-interest loans to businesses — during a time when private capital for growing jobs and businesses has been extremely difficult to come by. These loans have sparked much greater investment: $21.2 million in loans has leveraged $2.33 billion in private financing. And those dollars have put or kept people in jobs: they created 1,854 construction jobs and created or retained 2,547 permanent jobs.
Note that these are not blank checks: these are loans that are repaid with an extremely high success rate.
Another investment we will continue to make is our joint efforts with the State of Minnesota to grow our exports sector, where there is room for growth. A study released just yesterday by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that our work is getting results: the value of exports from the metro area grew by almost 13% in just one year, or an additional $3 billion. This translates into jobs and new business right here in Minneapolis.
The infrastructure of economic growth
The infrastructure that supports job creation and economic growth in Minneapolis is our Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, called CPED, which we created 10 years ago to be our central job-creating and economic-development hub.
CPED is getting the job done: since the recession began, Minneapolis’ commercial tax base lost $1.5 billion in value — but, in the same period of time, commercial properties in which CPED has invested grew in value by $300 million.
The additional revenues that CPED investments generate help us maintain our streets, keep them safe — and hold property taxes down. This is why I add resources in my 2013 budget for CPED to continue this important work.
Please let me know what you think about my budget and our investments in jobs and economic growth. Contact me here or me at firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Growth” in the subject line. I will keep these updates about the 2013 budget coming.
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