As the June 14 launch date for the Green Line approaches, over 80 representatives from the government, local businesses and non-profit organizations attended the Midway Economic Development Summit on April 16.
Gail Cederberg, a principal of American Engineering Testing, Inc., talked about the importance of hosting this summit at the final stage of Green Line project. She said that during the past three years, many business, especially small businesses have gone through a hard time, and this economic development summit was to bring people together and help businesses thrive after the construction.
When talking about how the construction of Green Line affects local neighborhoods and small businesses, John K. Jensvold, direction of project development from PCL shared his experiences working with light rail projects in other cities such as Denver and Phoenix. He said, “It is (Central Corridor project) one of the complicated projects in the U.S. from a construction stand point. There are different personalities along the corridor and it passes different neighborhoods from one and another…(my final thought is that) people need to be patient and the full benefits of the corridor won’t be obvious on day one. It’ll take lots of time and adjustments going forward.”
Canfield also expressed her hopes for the public after the June 14, 2014, open date for Central Corridor Light Rail Transit. She said, “We’re just really hopeful that we want to make sure that people know that streets are back. They are all open and you can get here and frequent our business. Once the Green Line opens, we just encourage people to use it. Hopefully it will bring a bunch of new people that haven’t been to this area before.”
The summit theme was “Attract! Retain! & Grow!” Midway Chamber of Commerce held this summit to discuss business and job growth from the “Capitol to Campus.” After brief speeches by Cederberg, Myron Frans, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue, and Minnesota State Senator John Hoffman, table discussion groups covered topics from commercial real estate to the value of technology to business. Attendees changed tables every 20 minutes to exchange ideas on engaging in the political process, construction and small business, minority workforce, zoning impacts on the city, business tools available from the city, and so on.
Kari Canfield, the president and executive director of Midway Chamber of Commerce, said, “It’s a membership organization and we promote the business in Midway to help keep the Midway strong. We have 320 plus members and this is the first Economic Development Summit that we hosted.” When asked how these eight topics were decided, she said that board members thought these were topics that most people would be interested in. The main goal is, she said, “to share information and we always want our members to walk away with something that they can use to help themselves personally or in their business.”
One of the roundtable leaders, Annaka Sikkink, who is a senior trainer from HIRED, shared her ideas on hiring and retaining a minority workforce. She asked questions such as, “What are the cultural barriers & how to break through?” and “How do you find skilled workers and get in touch with training programs?” Another roundtable leader, Ted Davis from Davis Communications Management, said that it’s very important for all representatives from city council members to small business owners to come together and discuss how to get involved in local politics and where to start the conversation.
Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.