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Helping employers and talented employees see the advantages of a city address is also part of their job — made more so by the propensity of Minnesota’s business organizations to complain about this state’s business climate. Economic development in the 20th century often involved chasing smokestacks. In today’s economy, it increasingly means courting talented people, both entrepreneurs and the people they employ, with a case about the quality of urban life that Minneapolis offers.
Rybak recently showed his would-be successors how the courting is done. He used Minnesota’s region-leading move to legalize same-sex marriage to the city’s advantage, going to Chicago and Milwaukee to advertise to same-sex couples, “I want to marry you in Minneapolis.” The city’s website includes a portal to guide out-of-town couples making wedding plans. With one clever, timely message, Rybak boosted job-creating wedding vendors and sent a positive larger message about his city’s respect for human diversity.
• Think regionally: A century and a half of counterproductive rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul finally disappeared — or very nearly so — during the mayoral administrations of Rybak and St. Paul’s Chris Coleman. Bad habits die hard, but we hope this one is buried for good. The modern Twin Cities is a single economic unit. As leaders of its largest municipal component part, Minneapolis officials bear particular obligation to think regionally, not parochially.
Minneapolis leaders should not skimp on involvement in Greater MSP, the new nonprofit regional development sales force, and regional government collectives such as Metro Cities and the North Metro Mayors Association. They should be advocates for job-supporting resources that benefit the entire region, such as the University of Minnesota and Metro Transit.
They should strive to speak for the region at the Legislature, where resentments of city for suburb and vice versa are too prevalent. Minneapolis officials are tone-setters in those conversations. If they emphasize the interdependency of Minneapolis, St. Paul and all their surrounding municipalities, they’ll drown out narrower interests. And they will help legislators to see more clearly that what’s good for Minneapolis is good for all of Minnesota.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.