Two St. Paul development groups that began working to revitalize the city in the early 1990s — when Norm Coleman was mayor — are now looking for ways to cooperate.
Will that lead to a merger of the Capital Business Partnership and the St. Paul Riverfront Corp.?
It’s too early to tell, leaders say.
The official line, in a letter sent to members of both groups, says:
“… [O]ur boards have determined that the timing is right for realignment of the activities involved in optimizing the city’s assets; in determining best strategies to attract, retain and build employment; and in working with the City’s public resources to ensure the competitiveness of Saint Paul as a home for private sector employers.”
Patrick Seeb, executive director of the Riverfront Corp., said discussions have begun on ways the two groups can work together in the future.
“Our approach has served us well for the past 15 years, but now we want to build on it,” he said. “Both organizations feel the same way, that there have been a lot of successes, and we want to be proactive, using the best practices, going forward.”
John Labosky, president of the Partnership, made up of area CEOs, said his members will discuss the issue at their annual meeting Tuesday.
The collaboration discussions were kicked off when Mayor Chris Coleman assembled a task force in 2008 to look at ways of focusing similar work being done by several groups.
Also active in St. Paul development efforts are several city departments, the St. Paul Port Authority and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.
Seeb said the groups have started the process of looking at what kind of work is needed to promote development in the city, and they’ve agreed to proceed with the planning.
“But we don’t yet know the outcome,” he said.
The wording of their letter, though, almost raises the specter of a merger or takeover:
We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of both Capital City Partnership and Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation. Our respective staffs, volunteers and supporters have made significant contributions to the strength of our community and its extraordinary quality of life. But just as the circumstances of the early ’90s precipitated the creation of each of our organizations, the circumstances of the present should challenge us to think about how best to organize and drive the work of economic development and job growth.
We do not have specific predictions at this point about the final outcome of this commitment to joint planning — we simply want to acknowledge that our organizations share a passion for the future of Saint Paul, a commitment to realizing significant growth in quality jobs in the community, and determination to think innovatively about accomplishing that goal.
Boards of the two organizations have committed to a joint work plan to evaluate strategies and potential organizational models, even as their involvement in the Mayor’s Task Force continues. Our staffs will be working closely together, and we look forward to updating you as our planning efforts proceed. In the meantime, you can count on our two organizations to continue to provide high-quality economic and community development.
The Riverfront Corp. mission, according to its website:
The Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation is a private, non-profit corporation that works to connect Saint Paul’s people, places and neighborhoods to the Mississippi River. Active in the city’s renaissance since 1994, we’ve been a catalyst for riverfront revitalization projects like the Wabasha Street Bridge, Harriet Island, Raspberry Island and the Upper Landing. We also work on projects like Landmark Plaza that improve downtown Saint Paul and its connections to the Mississippi River. We support broader community development efforts, including the Central Corridor Light Rail Line, by serving as an urban design resource.
The Capital City Partnership says:
The mission of the Capital City Partnership is “to focus and channel the energies and resources of the larger corporate community to form effective public/private partnerships to plan, develop, promote, and market the downtown urban core of Saint Paul. The partnership is made up of 52 of the metropolitan’s largest corporations, whose CEO’s have a common objective and are committed to revitalizing the urban core of our state’s Capital City. Our goal is to work to enhance the downtown so it is an exciting place to work, live, play and shop!