We’ve recently confirmed three new outstanding speakers for our historic gathering in western Minnesota this summer which features some of the most knowledgeable people in the entire region on our demographic and economic disparities, and how to fix them. Kevin Jensvold, Chairman of the Upper Sioux Community, will deliver our opening welcome on June 27, Diana Anderson, President of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, will open our proceedings on June 28, and Dr. Bruce Corrie, Director of the City of St. Paul’s Planning and Economic Development and co-founder of OneMN.org, will discuss the Shared Sustainable Prosperity framework and process. Other speakers previously announced include: Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey; State Demographer Susan Brower; Cornelia Flora Butler, co-creator of the Community Capitals Framework and a highly respected expert in rural community development; Craig Helmstetter, managing director of the American Public Media Research Lab, and Tane Danger, (Growth & Justice board member) and his Theater of Public Policy troupe. Participants in this event will help create a unifying “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint,’’ a new social contract that heals our divisions: the rural-metro divide, racial injustice, overall economic inequality and environmental degradation. Registration options include participating as an official delegate in the six-month blueprint development, or as a general participant. Please register now – space is filling up. Registration Fees, including meals, are $195 for the entire gathering or $100 for June 28 only. Some scholarships are still available to help cover registration, lodging, and travel for participants who commit to being an Equity Blueprint delegate. More information on “Thriving by Design, Rural & Urban Together,” is available on our website. Our partner in this event is OneMN.org, an organization focused statewide on building our “ethnic capital” and working toward racial equity in business and economic development. Their motto -- “Building Shared Sustainable Prosperity’’ -- resonates strongly with our own mission statement. Please spread the word, even if you cannot attend.
Reversing decades of urban-to-exurban population shift, the urban and inner suburban center of the Twin Cities metropolitan area grew dramatically over the last decade. St. Paul and Minneapolis added a combined 65,000 people inside their city limits since 2009, and reflecting trends toward more efficient housing density, the inner-ring of mostly developed suburbs (e.g. Blaine, Bloomington, Brooklyn Park and Edina) also grew substantially. The Metropolitan Council’s latest report on these trends showed that most of the growth is occurring in areas of existing or planned transit, namely along light-rail lines and high-speed bus transit. Transit serves the causes of racial and economic equity and climate action as well as business growth. Growth & Justice will continue to advance public policy that builds this important infrastructure statewide. For a quick tutorial on Greater Minnesota transit and mobility needs and options, see our commentaries in 2015 by Growth & Justice Policy Fellow Pia Lopez.
Growth & Justice offered high praise in 2016 for the creation of the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute (OIGI) by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The recognition by this highly regarded regional financial institution that inequality and racial disparity represent real and present threats to growth was an important milestone. We recommend a quick scan of OIGI’s latest summary from a convening earlier this month with presentations by stellar national experts on the issues and solutions surrounding inequality and racial disparity. A crucial overview was provided by Jason Furman, a Harvard economist and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. He noted that among developed economies, the U.S. has the lowest overall market regulation in terms of employment protection legislation, the lowest minimum wage relative to the median, the least collective bargaining coverage, and among the lowest levels of disability compensation and unemployment insurance duration, and that all these may be crucial factors in the U.S. having the greatest inequality among peer nations, as measured by the gini coefficient.
“There’s a changing face to our region—and your workforce is changing, too. We’ve been talking about Baby Boomer retirements for a long time, but who’s taking their place? Young working families are facing housing, child care, transportation and real financial issues—which affects your business’s ability to fill much-needed positions. Our region’s population growth in the next 30 years will come from kids of color. Inclusion is our growth strategy.’’ -- Diana Anderson, president of Southwest Initiative Foundation, in her blog urging business leaders to attend the Grow Our Own summit in late 2016.