Inner-city neighborhoods have long suffered from economic isolation and disinvestment. North Minneapolis is no exception. While the population and the number of jobs available in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region has increased, North Minneapolis neighborhoods have lost jobs in industries like manufacturing, but have also experienced a decline in population. These changes suggest that North Minneapolis is not receiving direct benefits from regional growth and that its economic base is not well tied to the regional economy. Vacant storefronts and land, poverty, and unemployment further constrain economic development opportunities. In addition, recent zoning and land use changes have impacted economic development and business expansion opportunities. To address these challenges other policies and strategies are needed to ensure that economic and business development occurs.
The goal of this project was to determine potential industries that would fit well to recruit to North Minneapolis. This analysis was based on existing conditions in North Minneapolis and the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, including demographic, economic, land use, and vacancy. Another goal of the project was to establish whether there are land use regulations that should be changed to further promote economic development and encourage business retention and expansion.
To advance economic and industrial development in North Minneapolis, it is preferred to achieve mutual benefit between the local residents and regional industries. Ideally, the neighborhood residents would have greater access to growing industries and higher wage jobs while the firms would gain from the prime location and unmet demand. Firms within high-tech manufacturing, computer and electronic manufacturing, transportation support and educational services are prime for North Minneapolis. These industries are likely to experience employment growth; the region or neighborhood is specialized, or the Minneapolis-St. Paul region has a competitive advantage over other regions.
The land use regulations in Minneapolis’ Industrial-Employment Districts are very similar to regulations other comparable cities have implemented. They are designed to preserve jobs and industrial land. However, the City can improve business loans and assistance, and identification of emerging industries that could potentially use the vacant space available. The two-floor requirement along West Broadway Avenue should be modified to provide more flexibility to developers.