Where is our Minneapolis Vision? Let’s look at Indianapolis….

The January 17, 2017 article in the New York Times business section caught our attention (see ‘How Indianapolis, Long Known as a Manufacturing Center, Is Luring Tech Talent’).  The article chronicled Indianapolis’ deliberate strategy to become the technology hub of the Midwest. It reviewed how Indianapolis is leveraging their substantial educational resources, their affordable quality of life, and their early “stage presence” of technology companies on which new growth can build.

The New York Times article goes on to highlight Indianapolis as ‘a great place for young professionals’, ‘a city where you have…access to talent’, and a place where ‘people are nice, very hard-working, and very loyal.’ 

Sound familiar? Has anyone at City Hall looked at what Indianapolis is attempting to pull off? And attempting to pull this off with a lot less than what Minneapolis has to offer.

This topic of a technology focus is particularly important to our local companies and, in fact, we are seeing local companies like Cargill and Target partner to attract and retain technology talent today as software expertise will be the differentiator for the future.

So where is our Minneapolis Plan?

Indianapolis has long thrived on manufacturing as its steady economic base. More recently, Indianapolis has experienced a brutal industrial decline spawning a loss of job opportunities. In place of manufacturing, Indianapolis has put together a strategy for building technology as its new base, combining universities, the business community, the economic development agency and state and local resources.

This includes TechPoint (http://www.techpoint.org/) to help retain young graduates from area colleges and encourage start-ups and scale-ups. There is also DevelopIndy (http://www.indychamber.com/economic-development/why-indianapolis/O) an initiative of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce with a specific, transparent target of 3,700 new tech jobs. There is also coordination with tech leaders from the former Exact Target, Salesforce, and Angie’s List as well as an infusion of venture capital funds.

A real cloud on the whole initiative, however, is the conservative Republican state leadership. Mike Pence, former Governor and now Vice President, nearly derailed all of Indianapolis’ multi-year tech efforts with last year’s anti-gay legislation hiding behind ‘religious freedom’ claims. (This same misguided and mean-spirited legislation is now being championed by Senator Ted Cruz in Washington). In Indiana’s case, the tech business community stepped up and quickly threatened to pull down the whole initiative unless he and the Republicans backed down. And they did—for now.

Fortunately, we have Mark Dayton as our governor so such an embarrassing and backwards effort should not be an immediate issue here. However, with an open governor’s race looming in 2018, we cannot afford to wait.

So what is our Minneapolis Plan?

On what industry sectors should we focus?

Is city leadership coordinating the independent efforts currently underway here to maximize their effect?

 Have we set a transparent goal for new jobs created in Minneapolis?

The answer in short is…No.

We do not have a plan.

Why haven’t we carved out our niche?  Why can’t we be the Silicon Valley of Food, the Silicon Valley of Health and Wellness for starters?

Currently we have NO leadership, NO coordination coming from our mayor.

We have NO transparent job goal for our City shared across government, business, labor, academia, and non-profits. Most importantly, our leaders have no specific plan to actually grow the future economy and provide local, high quality, career-making jobs for everyone in our community.   

Cities are either moving forward or they are falling behind. We may have a robust employment scene today, but what are we doing to position ourselves for tomorrow? What happens if our area loses a major employer? What happens if we experience more job cuts from our legacy companies? What if there is a national economic downturn under the Trump administration? 

When we ask about orchestrating our future, is ’No’ the answer we want?

 Let’s stop living without a plan.

Let’s lead and bring together all of our interests and disparate initiatives with a more unified,more specific focus.

 Let’s lead by setting specific targets for these new job opportunities that will address the wage and employment disparity for our citizens of color and lift up our whole community.

Help lead and join our movement to move forward and put the progress back in progressive!

Please share and start a city conversation on how we move ahead for the future of Minneapolis. Share your ideas on how we build our Minneapolis model for growth. I believe that you have great ideas and that there is real value in sharing them.

Thank you for being part of this conversation!

 Tom Hoch

 

 

Tom Hoch