Mayor addresses effort to ‘reinvent’ Minneapolis

R.T Rybak laid out his plan to bring opportunity to the city this year.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak gives the State of the City address Wednesday at North American Coloplast Headquarters.

Paul Bangasser

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak gives the State of the City address Wednesday at North American Coloplast Headquarters.

A city buzzing with businesses and ideas, rather than filled with crime and unemployment. This is the reinvented Minneapolis as envisioned by Mayor R.T. Rybak in his State of the City address Wednesday. âÄúThe past, whether we like it or not, is over,âÄù Rybak said Wednesday at the North American Coloplast Headquarters in north Minneapolis. The mayor emphasized the need to make jobs available locally. Rybak said he thinks the state can be self-sustaining because of the types of businesses that call Minnesota home, like homegrown Target and Best Buy. Creating green jobs and training programs for growing industries, such as health care, will make Minneapolis a âÄúcity of opportunity,âÄù he said. According to the U.S Bureau for Labor Statistics, Minnesota is facing at least a 7.6 percent unemployment rate, the highest in 10 years, making the need for jobs evident. Rybak spoke about the efforts of the WorkForce Centers in Minneapolis, which act as a middleman between employers and people searching for work. Kathy Carney, Minneapolis WorkForce Center manager , said the center matches employersâÄô needs with workersâÄô resumes through a program called Minnesota Works. The center serves about 60,000 people annually and has programs in place that train customers for the available jobs. Carney said the centers are looking ahead at jobs that are likely to be in need, especially those pertaining to a greener economy, but she is also hopeful the Obama administration will create construction and transportation jobs. Coloplast, an international medical supply company, is partnering with WorkForce and has promised to hire at least 128 Minneapolitans, the mayor said. Rybak said he hopes ColoplastâÄôs presence will bring industrial jobs back to north Minneapolis. Rybak also addressed the need to improve the safety of the city, but stressed violent crime rates have decreased for the second year in a row. Sgt. Bill Palmer of the Minneapolis Police Department attributed this to multiple factors, including strong efforts to reduce juvenile crime in the city, which he said was low for the third consecutive year. âÄúWe are seeing crime numbers you tend to see in a good economy,âÄù Palmer said. âÄúWe clearly donâÄôt have a good economy right now, but over the last three or four years weâÄôve seen consistent double digit reduction in our overall crime numbers and our violent crime numbers.âÄù The mayor also described several other visions for the city: âÄ¢ Begin the Minneapolis Green Jobs Institute to train workers for green jobs through local institutions. âÄ¢ Move aggressively against foreclosures by establishing foreclosure response and providing affordable housing. âÄ¢ Continue the Minneapolis Promise âÄî a set of three privately funded initiatives to educate and find jobs for youth. âÄ¢ Develop transit projects, such as the commuter rail to Big Lake and high speed rails to Duluth and Rochester.