As Minneapolis heads into the final stages of approval its 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the Center for Economic Inclusion commends Mayor Jacob Frey and the city leaders who have prominently centered racial equity in their vision for the future of our community. We also applaud the hundreds of residents who dedicated hours of their time reading the plan over the last several months, offering their feedback and perspectives on its strengths and weaknesses with the goal of helping our city leaders pursue the best, most equitable vision for inclusive growth possible.
Now that the Planning Commission has endorsed the revised plan, we urge the City Council to support both the plan’s goal of reducing disparities and the implementation of policies and investments that proactively and measurably increase equity between whites and people of color in Minneapolis.
The Center for Economic Inclusion exists to provide business, political, and civic leaders with the information and tools necessary to grow our region’s economy by $32 billion by 2040 by fully, consistently and significantly engaging people of color in our workforce and by contracting with businesses owned by people of color in professional services and supply chains. We are advocating to city leaders across the region that their Comprehensive Plan will set the course for significantly growing their local economy by strategically engaging everyone.
Four important priorities
To achieve inclusive economic growth, the center urged every jurisdiction in the region to include four priorities in their comprehensive plan. Every comprehensive plan needs:
- a goal to develop a racially equitable economy;
- data analysis, consistently disaggregated by race, to identify racial disparities in access to affordable housing, transit, living wage jobs and economic development;
- policies and strategies specifically designed to close the identified racial disparities and advance economic opportunity; and
- a commitment to evaluating the impact of these policies and strategies on people of color, and to adapting those policies and strategies based on that evaluation.
It is also imperative that these plans are anchored by firm and annual investments and institutionalized policies and practices for sustainable impact.
Minneapolis 2040 includes these components. Notably, the plan’s goal to reduce disparities and improve outcomes for people of color in housing, employment, safety and health is the most clearly articulated vision of racial equity that we’ve seen in the draft plans submitted so far in the region.
The center is clear that embedding racial equity in comprehensive plans should not be motivated by charity. Rather, employing our entire talent base to address the labor shortages of our region’s employers, building vibrant cultural commercial corridors that expand our sales tax base and strengthening our tourism industry, and being more intentional about the interdependencies of our business attraction and retention, transit, and housing strategies to ensure that employers have access to the talent and goods that they need to grow and thrive, will be good for Minneapolis and all Minnesotans.
Compete through economic inclusion
Our shared desire to grow the competitiveness of our region and a commitment to live out our values should motivate us to move beyond competing with ourselves by overlooking local growth opportunities through economic exclusion, and start competing with other cities – and winning – through economic inclusion.
During his recent visit to the Twin Cities as a part of the center’s Powering Inclusion event series, Andre Perry of the Brookings Institution demonstrated that cities that invest in neighborhoods and entrepreneurs of color have thriving economies – more so than cities and regions that do not. He called on us to take action to influence these comprehensive plans to focus investments in the people and the assets within our communities of color – because it is in our shared self-interest to do so.
Minneapolis 2040 goes a long way toward identifying racially inclusive growth strategies that will benefit all individuals, families, neighborhoods, the entire city and the region. There’s more work to do, however, in collecting data, designing policies to reduce racial disparities, and implementing the plan.
While Minneapolis’ plan shows great promise and deserves the support of the City Council, the city cannot go it alone. Economic growth is regional, and our region’s nation-leading racial inequities in wealth, health, income, housing and employment didn’t happen by chance. They won’t disappear by chance either.
Minneapolis can drive regional growth and create equity by investing in and leveraging the assets, talent, leadership, innovation and culture within every corner of our city. Let the City Council know you share their commitment to creating an economy – and a city – that works for everyone.
Tawanna Black is the founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion, a cross-sector organization aimed at building a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable region for all by emphasizing a diverse workforce.
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