How to make the Twin Cities the best region in America

The good life in Minnesota: A 12-step plan to greatness in the Midwest

The point is: Things will break. Already, Minnesota is a national leader in catastrophic insurance losses. According to the Insurance Federation of Minnesota, home insurance rates are up 267 percent since 1997. And that's just the beginning.

"We built the Twin Cities on climate assumptions that were in place 50 or 100 years ago and no longer apply today," says Huttner.

We have to rethink the way we build and maintain our region, agrees Abraham. "We need to lower the economic cost as climate change happens. We can't stop it, but we can become more resilient."

6. Use and generate energy wisely

The good news is that a lot of the things we're doing already — more public transit and higher density — will also prepare us for our new climate, says J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director at the St. Paul-based advocacy group Fresh Energy.

The state of Minnesota aims to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2025. The Twin Cities are planning accordingly. The first item on the agenda is designing energy-efficient new buildings and retrofitting existing homes and commercial inventory.

"That should be the first thing that we do," agrees Maggie Koerth-Baker, the Minneapolis-based science editor at Boing Boing and author of the recent book Before the Lights Go Out — Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us. "If you look at where the majority of our emissions come from — it's from electricity generation. The majority of that is waste in buildings. So the biggest thing we need to look at is reducing the amount of energy it takes to power our buildings."

A major energy-efficiency push would be good for everybody's bottom line, says Drake Hamilton. "When we make our buildings more livable for more people, we are going to be creating jobs and improving everybody's quality of life."

At the same time, we need to get ourselves into the clean-energy-generating game. To Drake Hamilton, "community solar gardens" are a big part of the solution.

To make up for the fact that not everybody has the right kind of roof — or income — for solar panels, the Legislature opened the door last year for people to buy a share in neighborhood solar parks that could be located on the flat, unobstructed roofs of commercial buildings. At the end of the month, your utility credits you for the power your slice of the neighborhood solar park has generated.

To make renewable energy work, we must also rebuild the power grid, Koerth-Baker says. "That's not just good for building a hippie utopia, but it's also good resiliency during disasters."

Dense cities are also energy-efficient.

"If you want sustainability, you also have to have density. And density doesn't necessarily mean we have to look like Hong Kong. We shouldn't get into this false dichotomy that says we either have to live in a quaint little village, or we have look like downtown, and there's nothing in between. We really need to find ways to make that acceptable to people, because if you don't do that, you're not sustainable."

7. Get the jobs done

What do we do to keep our economy bubbling? We double down on our strengths, says Michael Langley, the CEO of Greater MSP, otherwise known as the Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership.

"Human talent is going to be our secret weapon for the future. We have a strong economy because we have a very strong workforce. Smart people attract really good businesses, and good businesses attract more smart people," he says.

The Twin Cities has 19 Fortune 500 headquarters, boasts Langley. The area is a global player in three key sectors: food, healthcare, and, less well-known, water technology, which, according to Greater MSP, employs 12,000 people in the Twin Cities — more than anywhere else in the U.S.

Water technology will be an increasingly important international asset, says Rybak. As global warming becomes an ever more pressing condition, water will be more vital around the world. Local companies such as Pentair, 3M, Ecolab, and Osmonics, which was recently acquired by GE, are promising to make water management MSP's newest growth engine.

Africa, which is perpetually dealing with scarce or contaminated water, could become a major market for local players. "China is dominating Africa, but the solution for the United States is called Minneapolis-St. Paul, where we have a part of the population connected directly to Africa," he says.

Writer and community activist Nimo Farah, who came to Minnesota as a refugee from the Somali civil war in 1994, is all for it, as long as forays into Africa are undertaken with the good of the local populations in mind.

"Of course there are opportunities because of globalization and because of all these connections that we have," she says. "That's the case for Somalia, too. Although it's a war-torn country, there are many opportunities. There are a lot of people that are returning and taking advantage of those opportunities."

8. Promote the hell out of the place

The only three things people elsewhere think they know about Minnesota are that it's freezing cold nine months out of the year, Prince lives here, and it's the setting for the movie Fargo. To make matters worse, Fargo just came back as a TV series on FX to mock us. It might not be the easiest task to advertise the biggest metro in the state to the rest of the world. Or is it?

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32 comments
phux
phux

BETTER FOR WHO?? DEVELOPERS AND YUPPIES? WHO WANTS MORE TECH? WHAT SO WE CAN HAVE EVEN MORE RICH FUCKERS DRIVING AROUND TOWN IN THEIR FANCY CARS WITH THEIR ME FIRST ATTITUDES? This is such a clusterfuck of an article. The main point of it and of many of the new kids in the city council though is DEVELOPMENT. Did construction companies pay for this article? Its a developers wet dream. Our city is already a great place! We need better transit for sure, but that's because its being done wrong. Everybody agrees we need better transit. But the same morons pushing more condos are pushing light rail on the street level. I do like how the cover picture shows elevated trains, but unfortunately that is not happening here. And they are pushing for more tech jobs. As if trickle down hadn't been disproven already... a bunch of rich brats with tech jobs doesn't make our city a better place. Unless you think plundering our city is a good thing. And until we do have a full network of trains and buses that actually come regularly during drinking hours and all the rest of the time we need our streets, so don't even talk about shutting down roads until that happens. How can you talk about reducing traffic and about making roads smaller at the same time? when you don't have the light rail in place yet?? And take a good luck of what befell Uptown and you will see what more tech workers and the condos being built for them will do to our once cool city. They fucking demolished uptown and built a bunch of ugly high priced condos and luxury apartments. They tore down the Uptown bar and put in an Apple Store. Uptown is ruined and this article is the leading charge to do the same thing to the rest of the city. Fuck that! You fucking yuppies and douche bag rich kids suck! You are ruining what used to be a good city. A city that was affordable and working class is now being sold off to developers by technocrats. How about affordable housing? Why wasn't that mentioned? Why wasn't it mentioned that RT Ryback and City Council ignored affordable housing in favor of kickbacks from construction companies who built condos? Affordability has been a problem for years, and its getting worse, and now you call for making it even worse. Not to mention our city is great because of parks etc. and those parks are already overused, so do we really need even more people so that you can't find a space on a beach or at a park?

Rick Miller
Rick Miller

Screw diversity Diversity =weakness Unity = strength One way to help traffic? Quit having Somalis relocate here

joecool1999
joecool1999

Here's a dose of reality from these same Citypages: "Rents are increasing despite a less-than-booming job market, the repot indicates, citing Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development stats showing only 900 new jobs were created in the Twin Cities during the first quarter of the year. " 


The Twin Cities has always had a good job market for well-connected local yokels. For well-educated outsiders, its opportunities are little better than "loser cities" than Detroit and St. Louis.

joecool1999
joecool1999

This article includes the usual clueless garbage. Great place for white males? Great place for white males over 6'2" who are from the area. If you're not one of those white males you will be shit on by the local "feminist" females and anyone else who can get away with it. I used to think this was a great place for liberalism. Then I learned from experience it is the male-bashing, bigoted form of "liberalism". Yuck. No wonder people from the real cities don't take MSP seriously. It is every bit as discriminatory as the Jim Crow south, just with different targets of abuse, different selected "winner and loser" groups.

Ryan Bethke
Ryan Bethke

it would be good..if it were in "world pages"

David Hlavac
David Hlavac

Yup, Sinclair Lewis had that whole midwestern inferiority complex thing pegged around 100 years ago. Still relevant as hell today.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

"Why are you plugging a rapper and his resume in regards to transit issues? Why not quote a transportation planner that "plans traffic" professionally?"
- noted Minneapolis resident, me.

cholm1976
cholm1976

I'd like to see a very limited and controlled amount of development allowed right on the river / one of the lakes. A small riverfront plaza area with bars/restaurants right on the water would likely be hugely popular. Maybe even a pier on the river modeled after ocean piers that have shops, etc. I know I really wish there were spots where I could hang out and drink a beer next to the water.

loserdroid
loserdroid

#1 should be "Build a dome over the whole fucking thing."

Mohit Sharma
Mohit Sharma

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Sam Adamsson
Sam Adamsson

This is what I don't like about the twin cities... We're insecure. Why do we have to compete or try to make ourselves appear nicer to outsiders? I get and respect the need to improve and grow, but it seems like we are sooooo desperate to be liked.

Eric Ramsey
Eric Ramsey

Remove all roads from Detroit and Chicago. But do it 40 years ago.

Travis Mueller
Travis Mueller

ummm... hello? the state just gave rochester...i mean MAYOCHESTER, about $500 million to become a Destination Medical Center (DMC)..... the twin cities are over... just a north suburb of MAYOCHESTER now...

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1

Makes you wanna puke!

And all it takes is OPM - other people's money.   The socialist's will create a great city - just like the Soviet Union - with their 7 year plans.

DaveTheDopeFiend
DaveTheDopeFiend

@phux Wow, you sound so scared of things that are well beyond your control: progress and change. Are you sure you can handle life? It's a city -- cities have to adapt to the times, otherwise they become places like Detroit. Sorry that tech workers are ruining what "once was a great city." From what I hear, downtown wasn't all that great 10, 20 years ago, and the North Loop was where you went to get yourself murdered. So yeah, maybe you should just stick to the suburbs instead of worrying about those of us who actually appreciate where the city is headed.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

@phux There is this thing called a paragragh. You state your premis and then support it with 3-4 sentences, Often times you have a break. Like a carrige return. It still don't make up for the I think I'm New York pages quoting a rapper about something a civil engineer should handle.
:)

heterosectional1
heterosectional1

@cholm1976 No development along the Mississippi here in TCs. Just conversion of rat filled old flour mills to apartment houses for rick yuppies. Just came back from Davenport, Iowa on a riverboat cruise. Fabulous views. There's a little town right on the river bank! We have nothing like that here. Mipples is still a hick town. Hennepin Avenue is a DISGRACE. Supposed to be the theater district and gateway to the Mississippi. It is full of empty store fronts and fag bars. And the Mall is appalling. Black boys with their low butt pants hitting on white women. NOPLACE TO PARK IN THE STREET! 


As for me, I'm self-employed and very busy working out of my own home near downtown. Only place I go is the Uptown McDs to look at the weirdos for entertainment. And I can park for free at McDs and Lunds.

joecool1999
joecool1999

Not so much desperate to be liked as desperate to be admired, praised, viewed as superior. As far as being liked....nothing to worry about there....nobody is going to like the people in the Twin Cities any time soon.....self-obsessed, arrogant homers just don't warrant much respect anywhere and here is no exception. When Minnesotans start having a healthier attitude toward the outside world the outside world will start to take Minnesotans seriously.

joecool1999
joecool1999

Everything in this yuppie-ism obsessed state has revolved around the suburbs and corporations since about 1960. The Twin Cities exist as a ploy to lure conventions to the state with fancy restaurants - the people of the state and its politicians mostly ignore the cities and obsess over the suburbs and Mayochester. For a purportedly "liberal" state there certainly is a love affair with corporations and fascism-style corporatism here that is WAY more than a little bit suspicious to liberals who move from the outside.

joecool1999
joecool1999

@Truth_Teller_1  You know as much about "socialism" and the Soviet Union as I know about how to build a space ship.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@Truth_Teller_1  Move to South Dakota.  I'm sure you will love it.  We don't want scumbag bigots here anyway.  Losers like you contribute nothing.  It won't be tough replacing a toilet cleaning loser like you anyway. 

phux
phux

@DaveTheDopeFiend really dude, you are from the suburbs so you should stick them bro. I am from MPLS and was born here buddy. And the "improvements" to uptown are not improvements ya douche. Not to mention I talked about improving transit etc., I am a proponent of transit and very into progress, but rich dicks stealing your city out from under you isn't progress. Its theft.

phux
phux

@carnivalminds Technicality for a technicrat... you misspelled a couple things and put a comma instead of a period before "Often times..." so not sure where you get off telling me about grammar etc. More importantly I mentioned actual important issues in my *COMMENT* which is not supposed to be an article since I don't work at City Pages they would not post an article even if I wrote one. All points were cogent, so please desist from distracting.

phux
phux

@carnivalminds technicality for a technocrat? this is a comment online my friend. they don't let you write a proper article on here unless you are on staff, so we just lob out ideas. don't waste our time with technicalities. and by the way my comment lays out valid points. Oh and you have a comma where a period should be just before "Often times..." haha; and you misspelled carriage.

heterosectional1
heterosectional1

@MicheleBachmann @Truth_Teller_1 Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a great city. They have a half mile outdoor sculptor exhibit on the sidewalks on both sides of Phillips Avenue, which is the equivalent of Mipples horseshit Mall. And you can park your car in regular old time meters on their sculptor Phillips Avenue, the main drag. Free parking after 5 P.M. 


Yes indeed, Sioux Falls is a class act. Wells Fargo is based there, not in Mipples because of low taxes and business perks.

Truth_Teller_1
Truth_Teller_1

@MicheleBachmann  Please take  your meds.   It's easily understandable you have nothing to say - so what's left but to insult people.   Truly mental case.

carnivalminds
carnivalminds

@phux Fair is fair.
Can you solve the puzzle? Why did this puplication spend 2 paragraphs on a rappers resume and his "noted comment was 1 paragraph?

"I'm not going to take that job in the suburbs." Why did you produce a child? What kind of an example are you?

 
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