Collaboration in the Central Corridor: Attracting investment to create opportunities for all

March 18, 2011

Over the past three years in the Central Corridor, new combinations of residents, advocates, community groups, nonprofit and business coalitions, and public agencies have been collaborating in new ways. In the process, they’ve unleashed what they’re calling “the power of plus."

What’s brought them together? A shared vision to ensure neighborhoods, businesses and

Today, hundreds of them came together to review their progress and celebrate some of the new relationships they’ve formed. The occasion was an Annual Stakeholder Meeting sponsored by the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative held at the Wilder Center on March 16th.


During 2010, the Funder’s Collaborative provided $2.17 million to collaborations, working groups and community agencies in support of:

  • Ensuring access to affordable housing
  • Building a strong local economy
  • Creating vibrant transit-oriented places
  • Promoting effective coordination and collaboration.

The more than $3 million invested to date by the Funders Collaborative has leveraged about $20 million in the Central Corridor already and helped attract $21 million of additional Transit-oriented development grants and loans to the region.

In a video featuring some of people and groups involved in Corridor collaborations, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said, “If you’re going to do big things you need to get private investment to occur. You have to do the public investment and community engagement in such a way that in fact, the marketplace can be engaged constructively.”

Kate Wolford, president of Funders Collaborative member, the McKnight Foundation, said of the approach: “It’s a very agile structure. We can make timely investments, often very small investments, that bring together powerful actors — all working together.”

These early investments are key to turning the $1 billion spent on LRT line construction into $7 billion of additional investment in the Corridor neighborhoods “beyond the rail.”

With construction on the line only beginning, it’s too early to judge the success of the investments. But the Funders Collaborative announced a plan to assess annual progress toward the group’s four goals — through a summary report called the Central Corridor Tracker and a more detailed report produced by Wilder Research.

The initial reports, which present baseline data before construction began, were introduced at the meeting. The measurement effort focuses on 13 indicators of progress toward the four outcomes and compares the Central Corridor’s progress against Minneapolis and St. Paul as a whole, as well as other indexes. The full report also provides detailed breakouts for the East, Middle and West segments of the Corridor.

Working groups made reports at the March 16th event on how:

  •  The Business Resources Collaborative is helping Corridor businesses prepare for construction and build the resources to thrive when the line is operating.
  • The Investment Framework Working Group has developed a regional strategy for public infrastructure investment along the transit corridors to help attract private investment consistent with community plans and broader economic opportunity.
  • The Great Minds Retreat brought together the Central Corridor Project Office, contractors, labor, workforce development agencies and subcontractors to identify ways the construction project can increase access to opportunity for local residents and small businesses.
  • An Affordable Housing Coordinated Plan Working Group is developing strategies to preserve affordable properties and prevent the displacement of low-income residents.

It’s clear that collaboration on a shared goal in a shared place leads disparate groups to see each other differently. And it unleashes a power the individual stakeholders don’t have. “This can be a prototype for how to bring different, representative groups together around an issue — to sustain the communities that are here and want to stay here,” said Jon Schumacher of the St. Anthony Park District Council.

Supporting Documents & Downloads:

2010 Funders Collaborative Annual Report
Central Corridor Tracker
Central Corridor Key Outcomes – Baseline Indicators Report
Central Corridor Collaboration: The Power of + Video