St. Paul has a message for technology companies, innovative employers and start-ups around the world: Come on over.
Members of the city’s Innovation Cabinet gathered Monday at the hip Lowertown office of web design company Creed Interactive and, against a backdrop of exposed brick and shared workstations, they pitched a new plan to grow certain jobs in St. Paul.
Mayor Chris Coleman and Council Member Chris Tolbert created the Innovation Cabinet in February, and the group has come up with several specific goals. St. Paul should add 2,000 tech-related jobs and 200,000 square feet of commercial space for innovative employers by 2020, and it should hold 50 events a year focused on innovation, according to the Cabinet’s plan released Monday.
City staff members and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce will work together to implement those changes over the next few years.
“This is not something that is just being driven internally inside City Hall,” Coleman said. “It’s got to be something that’s owned by the community and really supported by the business sector in particular, so that they can reach out to our colleges and universities, so that they can reach out to our private sector.”
Coleman, who is running for governor, has been focused on job creation. During his budget address last year, he said he wants to add 3,000 jobs in St. Paul over the next three years.
The number of jobs in St. Paul has increased since the recession, but the city continues to trail Minneapolis’ job growth.
The city and its partners need to make sure that employers aren’t just starting out in St. Paul but that they are staying and growing their business there, Innovation Cabinet member Shauen Pearce-Lassiter said.
When supercomputer company Cray Inc. and software company When I Work left the city last year, their departures prompted a conversation, said Scott Burns, CEO of software company Structural and a member of the Innovation Cabinet.
“But they weren’t indicative of a systemic problem in St. Paul, other than the real estate issue,” Burns said. The city needs to add the type of workspaces that innovative companies want — ones that are open, with shared spaces and more amenities, Burns said, both in downtown and along the Green Line.