Editor's Note: This is the second in a three-part series about Orange County Commissioner Christine Moore's recent visit to Minneapolis with the Orlando Economic Partnership.
My recent trip to Minneapolis was instructive particularly on the culture of growing and retaining large corporate entities. I learned about how companies support one another, collaborate in master planning, and elevate ideas and opportunities for all citizens.
Now before the news outlet gives me another headline comparing Minneapolis to Apopka, I must say the two cities aren’t comparable in size. They aren’t comparable in vision, either.
However, I am an Orange County Commissioner and I care about the entire county and the health of all small, mid-size cities and unincorporated areas. I believe the principles learned in Minneapolis if implemented with fidelity are appropriate for all.
What is behind the superb reputation of the Twin Cities area of Minnesota located in the northern, central part of the country? Minneapolis boasts a global strategic outlook, is aggressive on job creation, is highly innovative, and brags about the ability to retain talent. They are noted for having the second-best green spaces in the country, the best state in America for women, and Bloomberg notes they were the first city to tame inflation. (This was due to converting office buildings to housing – more supply lowers the prices).
They promulgate the slogan that they are the land of 10,000 ideas and not just the land of 10,000 lakes. Other great ideas I noted were the importance of “rewiring the ecosystem” and the importance of the “strategic integration.”
Much of their success in retaining a large corporate base, which also provides high wage jobs, is due to a “circular economy.” For example, the large corporations work together to provide a $50 million equity fund for black & women-owned start-up companies. They team up to find sustainable solutions to common problems. For example, with 100 million lbs. each year of trash, a company started a large plastic recycling company. They are investing in computer chip manufacturing, looking at this industry as the railroad yard of the 21st century. Another creative spin-off is the manufacturing of sustainable fuel near the Twin Cities Airport.
The area’s corporations make a point to purchase each other’s products. How about that? Every company purchases hand sanitizer and other products from Eco-Lab. They buy Pillsbury flour, and many more examples. Corporate support for other local companies is vital to their success.
One of our speakers used the phrase, Knit together big solutions. They believe in leveraging the region’s total assets to improve opportunities for all. They believe in building up sectors or zones. It is a strategic, collaborative plan of growth for everyone.
Additionally, they believe in taking advantage of federal dollars. I do, too. I was able to secure more than $100 million state and federal dollars for septic-to-sewer conversions in the Wekiwa Springs neighborhoods. Timing is everything in building healthy cities, regions, and eco-systems. Minneapolis is a great example.
It was clear the area had structures in place for building collaboration, securing state and federal dollars, and growing their local economy. We would do well to emulate many of these best practices.
Thank you for allowing me to attend the Minneapolis trip with the Orlando Economic Partnership and share these ideas and concepts of how to build a collaborative business eco-system.