Learning, collaborating and innovating: Central Corridor recognized as national model

February 15, 2011

Regional partnerships continue to receive recognition for their work related to the Central Corridor Light Rail Line.

In January, Living Cities and the Institute for Sustainable Communities, along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Harvard’s Kennedy School, sponsored a “boot camp” for metropolitan regions that have received millions in federal planning dollars to transform their regional economies. The Central Corridor was included in a case study of “multi-sector collaboration and continuous learning” featured in the Sustainable Communities Boot Camp Resource Guide for Local Leaders (see pages 43-49.) 

The Funders Collaborative was highlighted in the guide, but it’s significant that the case study also cited more than 15 other partnerships and joint efforts making a difference in the corridor. In particular, the Central Corridor Light Rail Project was cited for: 

extraordinary degrees of collaboration (both within and across sectors of the community and among government agencies and jurisdictions); and diverse strategies aimed at ensuring inclusive decision-making and equitable outcomes. It also is a story of a range of stakeholders coming together at the metropolitan regional scale to become a “learning community”—one that takes action, assesses successes and mistakes, and is intentional about plowing those lessons learned into future phases of its work in search of continuously better development practices and patterns.

Of particular interest in this era of public budget constraints, the case study noted that we see collaboration as more than “the right thing to do.”

“Collaboration—sustaining relationships and connecting the dots—doesn’t cost a lot of money but it does save a lot of money,” said Caren Dewar of Urban Land Institute-MN. “It allows us to integrate our efforts, pool resources and reduce costs.”

Michael Lander, a Minneapolis-based developer doing work at two of the new Central Corridor LRT stations said there’s still progress to be made, however:

“We need to move beyond ‘left’ and ‘right’ and ‘public’ and ‘private’ to a new model of social entrepreneurship in which we’re all coming together, with accountability and discipline, to solve our social problems. It’s a different paradigm.”

Last fall, the Twin Cities was named one of five winners in the Living Cities Integration Initiative, supporting innovative approaches to improve access to opportunities for low-income people. Living Cities devoted a spread to the Funder’s Collaborative and Business Resources Collaborative’s Ready for Rail initiative in its 2010 Annual Report (pages 30-31).