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Three Questions and a Brag: My State of the City address

We get to grow, Minneapolis, and we get to do it all together. We get to truly become One Minneapolis, all of us — by necessity — contributing to that growth and prosperity and all of us by necessity sharing in that growth and prosperity.

This is the core of the speech that I delivered last Thursday at my first State of the City address at the Minneapolis American Indian Center.

My vision for growth is that the fruits of that growth are shared by all — people of color and white people; low-income and high; north, south, east, and west.

And the secret is that this growth cannot happen *unless* the fruits are shared by all.

Three questions

At the top of the whiteboard in my office, I have written three key questions. Everything I do — every policy decision that is in front of me, every appointment I make, every initiative we propose — passes through the filter of those three questions.

  1. How will this make the city run well?
  2. How will this move the dial on equity?
  3. How will this move the dial on growing the city?

For us to be One Minneapolis, we need to know and act like these questions are all connected.

Moving the dial on running the city well

Most important in running the city well is to make sure we’re taking care of the basics: potholes, streetlights, inspections, and sewers. So we do take care of them. I was proud to work with the City Council to fund an additional $1 million in pothole repairs this year.

A city that runs well also pays heed to its place in the world. Climate change is real, it is happening now, and we will continue to feel its impact on our city. So running the city well means planning for our energy future.

But there is no bigger marker of how well we are running the city than by how well we are providing the most basic of municipal services: public safety.

Minneapolis is a safe city. Today, it’s as safe as it’s been in a generation, with violent crime still at rates last seen three decades ago. But we know that crime is not evenly distributed across the city, so we are collaborating with residents, businesses, foundations and other levels of government to keep our neighborhoods safe.

Moving the dial on equity

In the 21st century, true growth and equity are intertwined. The greatest opportunity we have to create equity is with our kids. They are where we must begin.

My Cradle to K initiative will help transform how we think of early-childhood interventions. It will help coordinate work to increase the early experiences of children prenatal to age three so we can maximize a child’s ability to be ready for early-education opportunities.

Creating equity for our children that starts before birth and continues through a lifetime is where we must start, but it is not enough: we must also focus on ending existing disparities in jobs, wealth creation and housing, among many other areas.

For all the work that we are doing together, Minneapolis is blessed to have a true champion in the White House, in President Barack Obama. Last month, he announced his My Brother’s Keeper initiative to create and expand opportunity for boys and young men of color. I have been in contact with the White House about how Minneapolis can share the good work we’re doing here with the rest of the country, and how we can partner with the White House to do even more.

Moving the dial on growth

We are a thriving, growing city. My goal remains to make us the great city of the 21st century.

What is the key to our success? Our public investment in the public good is making us a city people want to come to and choose to invest in.

In Minneapolis, we view transit investment as an effective and essential tool for sustainable development: a tool to grow jobs, housing, and economic development in Minneapolis and along revitalized urban corridors. In our vision of Minneapolis, transit improvements, bike and pedestrian improvements, green space, and economic development are seamlessly and sustainably interwoven.

Make no mistake: when it comes to transit, Minneapolis knows exactly what it wants.

Right now, we are at the beginning of some of the biggest developments downtown in a generation. The reinvented Nicollet Mall will be another shining jewel in the crown for our state, region, and city. It is one of the many ways we are integrating our gorgeous review with our bustling, growing downtown.

But it’s more than just downtown, by far. Our neighborhoods are the bedrock of Minneapolis, and new developments in neighborhoods all across the city are bringing more people, more business, and more tax base to the city.

To realize the promise of growth — sustainable growth, growth of people not cars, inclusive growth — we as a city have to do everything we can to make sure we are fostering rather than thwarting investment. This is why I have asked the City Attorney to conduct a comprehensive review of all the City’s business regulations.

And as I said in the beginning, our growth needs to be inclusive growth. We must make sure our policies and programs are set up in such a way that every community can participate. We need to make certain our business assistance programs are flexible enough to meet the needs of today.

Bragging about it

I concluded my first State of the City address (which you can read in full here) by announcing “The Best Week of Bragging About Minneapolis Ever,” from July 14-20. You are all invited.

We really are an amazing place. But the problem is, nobody knows it.

We are, as I have said before, militantly modest. If we are going to grow, if we are going to bring opportunity here, we can’t afford to be modest. We have got to *brag*, people. Actively, loudly, with more vigor than we know we have we must shout to the *rooftops* that Minneapolis and our people are the Best. On. Earth. Come July, be prepared to brag with me.

The key to our future and our future growth rests on bragging. The key to our future rests on the City’s continuing to make the basic investments and innovative changes needed to support even more growth and development. And most of all, as I said in the beginning, the key to our future rests on making sure that we all thrive when everyone has what they need to take advantage of all that we have.  Our common future rests on it.

We are One Minneapolis, my friends. Acting like it will get us everywhere we choose to go.