For over six years, I was a professional St. Paul booster in my role as vice president for the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. For more than two years now, I’ve been a professional cheerleader for Minneapolis as president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber.
And at the same time, while I’ve built my career advocating for St. Paul and Minneapolis and the greater metro area, pitching the cities to businesses, and yes, challenging leadership when it feels like we’re headed in the wrong direction — I’ve been raising my family in the suburbs. I am active in my home community and serve as a School Board Member to Mounds View Public Schools. The Shoreview community is the right place for my family at this time, but that doesn’t mean that I like St. Paul or Minneapolis any less.
Given all these roles, I feel I must respond to the recent commentary “How a St. Paul backer through and through soured on that city” (July 16).
I would never suggest that the city I live in is better than any other, just because it is the right fit for me. And I am not going to take the time to explain all the things that make St. Paul great.
A quick glance at Twitter (or a look around downtown) will show you pictures of downtown parks, including the newly renovated Rice Park, green space, trash and recycling cans, corporate headquarters for major employers, new businesses, entertainment venues, breweries, and fine dining. St. Paul has major concert venues, a convention center for hosting large events, and hotels and restaurants to entertain visitors and residents alike. But you don’t need me to tell you that.
As one of my good friends likes to say, one of the best parts of St. Paul is its proximity to another city I love — Minneapolis. Now our cities are connected by light rail (which is great, but I’m not going to stop advocating for a more robust transit system region wide). And we are connected by community.
No one wins by saying Minneapolis is better than St. Paul or St. Paul is better than Minneapolis. Our region is strong because of our cities and the surrounding suburbs.
We have so much to offer in the Twin Cities: great jobs at Fortune 500 companies, a strong entrepreneurial spirit, restaurants and entertainment that make other Midwest cities jealous, state-of-the-art stadiums for baseball, football, soccer and concerts, strong civic engagement, and one of the nation’s best airports that makes it easy to get here. Why bicker about which of the Twin Cities is better or worse than the other?
I believe that success should be shared, and what is good for one of our cities is good for the region and the state. Let’s take that to heart and embrace all that our region has to offer and stop pitting cities against each other.
We need to work together if we are going to edge out our actual competitors like Austin, Boston and Denver as we make our bid for new jobs.
Jonathan Weinhagen is president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber.