Rybak focuses on Mpls’ economy

The mayor’s State of the City address centered on future job growth.

John Hageman

Highlighting job growth and lower crime rates, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak painted a bright future for Minneapolis in his State of the City speech Tuesday.
Rybak delivered the annual address at Augsburg College, where he focused on the familiar issue of economic growth.
Earlier in the day, Forbes Magazine named Minneapolis the best city in America to find a job, a title that Rybak was quick to point out.
Rybak said MinneapolisâÄô 6.5 percent unemployment rate is lower than in the surrounding suburbs, which is a rare phenomenon.
He attributed the economic success to an appropriate level of government involvement in the cityâÄôs economy.
âÄúThat is not an accident,âÄù he said.
Rybak also discussed the cityâÄôs transportation needs, adding that the city has âÄúyears to make up in underinvestment in our infrastructureâÄù but acknowledged that the city will need to do more than just add roads to reduce congestion.
When Rybak said the Central Corridor light-rail line is under construction, the audience responded with enthusiastic applause. But Rybak noted that the light rail is just one of several components in a âÄú21st century transportation
system.âÄù
This includes the Nice Ride Minnesota bicycle sharing program, which will soon expand. Rybak also pointed to a federal grant the city received to study the use of streetcars on Nicollet and Central avenues as proof the city is making âÄúdramatic investmentsâÄù in transportation.
The cityâÄôs capital budget, which will be finalized in December, will be heavily focused on business growth along mass-transit corridors, he said.
âÄúIf we grow along transit corridors, we can put far more growth into this city than we have,âÄù Rybak said. âÄúBut we canâÄôt just stand back and hope that growth happens in these areas.âÄù
He stressed the importance of investment in small businesses, pointing to the need for increased entrepreneurship in the city. According to Rybak, only four other states had fewer new business starts last year than Minnesota.
âÄúWe are not the entrepreneurship hotbed that we think we are,âÄù Rybak said. âÄúWeâÄôve got to turn this around, and weâÄôve got to turn it around fast.âÄù
On the public safety front, Rybak praised Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan for the cityâÄôs lowest violent crime rate in 27 years. But Councilman Cam Gordon, whose Ward 2 includes the University of Minnesota area, said he is still concerned about the amount of youth violence.
Meg Tuthill, Ward 10 councilwoman, appreciated the positive tone of the speech.
âÄúI think, with whatâÄôs going on economically for everybody, we have to look at the positive stuff to support,âÄù she said.