STRONG LOCAL ECONOMY
Beyond the jobs created by building new light rail transit, good transit connections can stimulate new local development, make workplaces more accessible to workers, increase foot traffic and customers for area businesses, and connect everyone to opportunities via the larger regional transit network.
What's At Issue?
The economic stakes of Central Corridor-spurred development vary up and down the line. In particular, University Avenue, from Prospect Park to the Capitol, features a mix of under-used industrial and commercial land that could benefit from revitalization — and diverse neighborhoods that could benefit from greater employment opportunities.
Wherever they’re located, businesses acknowledge that their economic success depends on good transportation access for their workers and customers. But for existing businesses along the Central Corridor Light Rail Line, it’s difficult to reconcile the long-term opportunities with the prospect of short-term disruptions they fear could jeopardize their survival. For residents, the question is whether new development will bring long-term employment opportunities that are accessible to them and can help families achieve economic success.
Anticipating future changes to help businesses adapt and do well will also benefit local residents.
What We Want To Achieve
- Minimize the involuntary relocation or disruption of existing businesses
- Reduce construction disruption
- Strengthen the identities, appeal and offerings of local business districts
- Encourage development that creates new job and workforce opportunities
- Encourage training that prepares people for the expanded job opportunities available via transit
Groups we support:
Business Resources Collaborative — We helped convene and fund this working group to develop a corridor-wide business development strategy and plan.
Contractor and Workforce Inclusion Group — in January 2010, unions, workforce and small business advocates, construction training organizations, community advocates, and representatives from state and federal monitoring agencies came together and produced a shared plan for achieving the construction project’s workforce and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals. The Oversight Committee continues to meet monthly and monitor progress against the plan.
Job Access Group — Recently formed to develop a strategy and plan to align economic and workforce development in the Corridor.
University Avenue Business Preparation Collaborative (U7) — We’re supporting this partnership that provides technical assistance, training and financing to help small businesses prepare for and thrive in the changing Central Corridor marketplace.
The economic stakes and impacts related to light rail transit vary widely across the Corridor. Potential economic disruption during the construction phase poses short-term challenges for local businesses, while the potential for increased pedestrian traffic and new shopping patterns presents new opportunities. It makes sense for the Funders Collaborative to focus its support on the businesses that are most threatened and have the least resources.
One of the biggest factors affecting businesses during construction of light rail transit is the construction schedule itself. Shorter construction periods in limited zones, up-to-the-minute information, and a common positive message about the coming changes can all go a long way toward minimizing construction impacts.
Providing tools and expertise to help businesses develop their own solutions can help mitigate fears and enable more flexible and lasting responses to dynamic conditions.
- Construction Mitigation Consultant Bill Knowles’ presentation to Central Corridor businesses[PDF]
- Construction Mitigation Consultant Thao Tran’s presentation to Central Corridor businesses [PDF]
The business community has many different organizations and coalitions working on economic development related to the Central Corridor. Members of these groups also participate in the groups and initiatives we support.
- Asian Economic Development Association
- Central Corridor Business Advisory Council
- Central Corridor Community Agreements Coordinating Committee Business Concerns and Economic Development Working Group
- Midway Chamber of Commerce
- Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Minnesota Hmong Chamber of Commerce
- Stadium Village Commercial Association
- St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
- Ready for Rail
- University Avenue Betterment Association