Last month I shared with you my proposed budget investments in public safety. These investments help us move the dial on running the city well, while also advancing equity. Those are two of the three goals I focus on each and every day. The third goal I focus on is how to grow our city.
My budget delivers on all three of these goals, with intentional and deliberate investments. Budgets are where we get to have the most impact on our goals and priorities, where we get to deliver on what we voted for. This week I’d like to share with you a bit about my proposed budget investments in growth.
As we grow as a city, we must ensure there is an adequate supply of affordable housing for families, particularly larger families. My budget invests 1 million more city dollars into affordable housing, with the intention of using it to leverage state dollars and spur investment into family housing.
The foreclosure crisis hit our city hard and we are still seeing the impacts today. Minneapolis already has down payment- and closing-cost-assistance tools in place to help promote home ownership in the neighborhoods hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. To that tool box, I am adding an initiative that will specifically connect qualified residents from communities of color with those tools in order to move them into home ownership, and to rebuild community wealth in north and south central Minneapolis.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs
As we promote growth, we need to make sure that everyone can participate in our city’s growth. For years, the City has invested in low-interest loans and other tools for small businesses. I propose investing additional resources in our Business Technical Assistance Program, a groundbreaking strategy where the City contracts with local non-profit organizations focused on entrepreneur training and economic development to provide direct services to new and existing businesses. It expands its scope of work to support initiatives that link women and minority owned businesses with buyers. This effort will also contribute to the city’s goals of increasing diversity in our own procurement practices. At the same time, I propose adding an additional position to the Contract Compliance Unit in the Civil Rights Department.
Perhaps one of the most exciting upcoming projects is the redesign of Nicollet Mall into Nicollet Mile. This project will provide an economic boom for the entire state of Minnesota. The State Legislature and Governor have invested in this project, as has the downtown business community. We as a city are doing our part, and my budget includes the promised $3.5 million to fully fund an investment that will bring additional dollars, jobs, and economic vitality to our city.
A key element of any successful 21st-century city is a 21st-century transportation system. Not only does it make us more attractive to the increasingly large population of people who want to live without cars, it also helps guide and plan our development and growth. Minneapolis has made great strides in recent years to catch up with our peer cities, and we must keep moving forward. My budget includes a reorganized and reimagined transportation planning division, to ensure we are out ahead of future transportation projects rather than running to stay caught up.
A major part of our transportation planning is the expansion of our infrastructure for bicycling. Minneapolis needs to continue to be a leader when it comes to a bike system that encourages recreation and exercise, but also commuting. I am including $750,000 toward the network of protected bike lanes called for in our Climate Action Plan. This includes investment in some of the most diverse and low-income neighborhoods in Minneapolis. It also provides for snow management of these lanes in winter so they can be used year-round.
My budget also provides investment in a project the City has talked about for many years – the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal. Now that the lock and dam will be closed for good, we have an opportunity to invest in North Minneapolis. This budget provides planning dollars so we can map out a future where North Minneapolis finally has its own valuable riverfront amenities.
Right now, Minneapolis is in a building boom. You can see it from the cranes that dot our skyline, you can see it from the ongoing developments happening all across the city. With more development and more buildings, we need to ensure our services can match the rising demand to keep the people inside those buildings safe. My budget includes funding for additional fire inspectors in our Fire Inspection Services program, as well as additional resources for construction code services, to keep the buildings – and the people inside those buildings – safe.
Something in it for all of us
The growth of our city is crucial to our successful future – and it cannot be said enough that inclusive growth will lead the way to maximizing prosperity for everyone.
Growth depends on us creating the city people choose to invest in. The foundation of that is a city run well, that provides opportunities to succeed to all residents. As people across the country continue to move into our urban cores, I – we – welcome them with open arms and the promise of a future together.
When we are intentional and deliberate, investments in the growth of Minneapolis can help accelerate our pace of growth, they can help increase our quality of life while inviting more people to share in it. In coming weeks, you’ll learn more about other proposed investments in health and sustainability, and running the city well. You can also learn more about the budget process, including dates for council hearings by clicking here.