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Is the Greater MSP Region Future-Ready? A Case for Action.

Posted by Unknown on Thursday, August 1, 2019

The worldwide pace of change continues to accelerate, disrupting entire industries and altering long-held assumptions and behaviors. Never has it been more important to understand the strengths and opportunities our region will face in the coming decades — and to establish explicit goals based on hard data.

Since 2014, the GREATER MSP Partnership has measured our performance against 11 peer regions on a range of economic indicators. Not surprisingly, five-year trends from the Regional Indicators Dashboard show that our economy may be reaching the top of its lifecycle—strong and leading in areas like workforce participation and talent attraction, while lagging in critical indicators such as affordability and racial inclusion.

These results are a clear call to action, driving us toward new approaches and solutions to strengthen our future economy. This is hard work, especially when things are humming along quite well on the surface. But I am confident we can make changes to ensure our future because this region knows something about re-invention—and our leaders know something about collaboration and hard work.

We’ve been here before.

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the manufacturing-based economies prevalent in Minnesota’s neighboring states began a slow decline due to pressure from the combined impact of the service economy, outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, and the emergence of the information age.

Minnesota’s economy, however, began a steady rise. Why? Because our leaders took decisive action to diversify our economy. They made huge investments in education and infrastructure, created governance models like the Metropolitan Council, founded new companies, and created the medical device industry that continues to lead the world. This deliberate, focused activity resulted in the globally leading knowledge economy we enjoy today. It became known as the “Minnesota Miracle” – long before Stefon Diggs caught Case Keenum’s pass on the football field.

50 years later, the Greater MSP region needs to reinvent again.

We are facing formidable new challenges: global competition, racial inclusion, K-12 education, affordability, and climate change. It’s starting to feel like we need another miracle. Yet what happened in this region a generation ago was no miracle at all.

Minnesota’s unpredicted, improbable rise was the result of decisions and deliberate actions by people, not so different from those of us here in the region today, who came together, created a shared vision, made compromises and took bold actions. They let go of old ways that no longer worked to make space to try some new things that might. And they did it with much less than we have today – less clarity about their future, significantly less data, and far fewer resources.

The Greater MSP region is at a tipping point.

Today, we’re equipped with a regional economic development partnership that tracks how our economy is performing and identifies priorities for action . . . a strategy that lays out what we need to do . . . and a portfolio of initiatives that enables us to scale execution.

The only thing the Greater MSP region is missing today—the bridge from where we stand to the next economy— is a set of clear and measurable goals.

We’ve talked about the need to set regional economic goals for years. Now let’s just do it.

We need regional goals for our economy to accelerate action in areas where the data shows that our progress is too slow. We need goals to focus and align leaders. We need goals to ensure accountability for results where results matter most. And 2019 is the year we will set those goals, together.

This effort is the work of a partnership. To be effective, regional goals cannot be developed by a single entity. They require the guidance and input of many. A team of leaders, including the many partners who contribute data to the Regional Indicators Dashboard, will drive the goal-setting, with the GREATER MSP Partnership and the Itasca Project co-leading the process.

The future is now. Are you in?

The work of reinventing our region for the new economy starts now–and it’s up to all of us. Review the dashboard and watch local leaders present one-minute pitches for goal-setting in the areas of innovation, racial inclusion, job growth and affordability. Then give us your one-minute pitch on the economic issue you believe most needs a clear and measurable goal. We will regularly share your thoughts and share the partnership’s progress on goal-setting so don’t forget to follow GREATER MSP on Twitter and LinkedIn.