City council actions :: Growing green economy

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September 27, 2010
By: Jake Weyer
Jake Weyer
Minneapolis and St. Paul agree to grow green economy

The Minneapolis City Council Sept. 24 unanimously approved a joint-powers agreement with St. Paul to attract, retain and grow green-manufacturing businesses and jobs. The St. Paul council approved the measure a couple days earlier.

Branded Thinc.GreenMSP, the effort was first announced in June, but Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said the partnership has existed informally for much longer.

“Saint Paul and Minneapolis have been working together for years to help green businesses grow, and this formal agreement gives us one more important tool to position our cities as national leaders,” Rybak said.

Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman partnered in 2006 to boost green manufacturing. The launch of Thinc.GreenMSP spawned from that and allows the cities to share staff and resources toward their common goal.

“We have terrific businesses in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul that provide good jobs to residents to produce products that are environmentally friendly,” said City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward). “We are excited about actively helping them succeed and grow.”

A 16-member steering committee will guide the effort. It will include representatives from the mayors’ offices, planners from both cities, statewide or regional economic development staff, industry professionals and others.   

The Thinc.GreenMSP plan includes five strategic initiatives

Buy Green: Local Government Green Purchasing Partnership
Minneapolis and St. Paul will work together to expand green-purchasing policies in the region.

Green Town: Incentives for the Built Environment
The cities will work together to promote environmentally friendly building standards. St. Paul already has a green building policy. Minneapolis is working on one.

Re:Purpose: Match Existing Industrial Zones with Green Assets
Recruiting new, green businesses is a priority. The cities are also identifying areas for “smart growth,” such as sites near public transit.

Early-Stage Financing: Finance Program through Local Investment Bank
Finding private funds to help startups is part of the plan. The cities are looking for new ways to leverage public investment with private capital.

Thinc.Leader: Recognition Program for Local Businesses
The cities plan to recognize corporate leadership in green manufacturing.

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Budget OK’d for Downtwn Improvement District

The City Council approved a roughly $6.3 million budget to get the Downtown Improvement District (DID) through 2011.

About $5.5 million of that money will come from service charges assessed to properties in the area. The rest will come from Nicollet Mall Improvement Maintenance & Operation credits, some Hennepin County properties within the district and other sources.

Much of the budget pays for the DID’s ambassadors, who patrol and clean sidewalks, answer questions and address safety issues, among myriad other functions.    

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NRP plan approved for North Loop

The City Council approved allocating $293,007 in Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funding to the Warehouse District North Loop Association for its phase-two community action plan.

 The plan dedicates 70 percent of the funding to home improvement programs for condominium associations and owners. The rest is slated for investment in parks and green space, business and commercial development, traffic safety efforts, crime prevention and the hiring of a consultant to help develop andimplement plans.