Early this year, Donjek was retained by an innovative coalition of partners to provide project management for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Business Plan Initiative. Working in conjunction with the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., the project involves a dynamic core group from the Twin Cities region:
- Urban Land Institute Minnesota and the Regional Council of Mayors
- City of Bloomington
- The Itasca Project, a coalition of 40+ executive leaders primarily from the private sector
- City of Minneapolis
- Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)
- City of St. Paul
- Target Corporation
The focus of this process is to integrate several years of knowledge gathering and consensus building on regional development issues, and assemble an improved approach to spur and support innovation and entrepreneurialism in the Twin Cities region. There are numerous complementary efforts underway, and momentum in the public and private sectors has been building for several years. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with these national and regional partners, and to advocate for a prosperous future in this region.
The prosperity of metropolitan areas has been a core interest of mine since the early 1990s. In this space, I have written repeatedly about the need to think and act deliberately about investing in metropolitan areas at a level sufficient to make the most of their tremendous economic, social and cultural powers:
- In this April 2008 post, I remarked on the important findings of the Retooling for Growth effort by the American Assembly, which dovetailed with an ongoing effort called the Blueprint for American Prosperity.
- In a July 2009 post, I expressed a hope that the geographic location of stimulus projects would reflect the modern reality of the U.S. economy, and focus primarily on metropolitan areas and their core cities.
- Most recently, I announced my involvement in Strong Towns, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established to make American places viable through improved land use. Since our launch in November, we have been successful in building relationships to spread a message about making investments in our infrastructure and people in part by reducing our subsidization of a costly, inefficient approach to land use.
The Initiative kicks off in Washington, D.C. today, where I and three members of the Twin Cities' steering committee are attending a workshop with representatives from the Brookings Institution and the two other metro areas selected to participate in the program: Seattle and Cleveland. I look forward to providing updates after our trip to Washington, and over the course of undertaking this exciting work this year.