MZ Strategies, LLC and the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) have released a new report entitled “Planning for Regional Competitiveness.” The report, funded by the McKnight Foundation to help inform efforts underway in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, highlights best practices that strengthen regional economic competitiveness. The following five recommendations have applicability to other regions seeking to improve their own economic competitiveness: and cooperation:
1. Establish ownership, clarify roles, and prioritize actions around a single economic strategy. Decide who takes the lead for coordinating the effort to develop and carry out a strategy. Specify roles, responsibilities, strategies and action steps.
2. Define and monitor performance of regional goals for equitable economic growth. Use social and economic metrics to shape the regional strategy and drive policy and investment decisions. Include ways to deal with regional disparities.
3. Give high priority to the needs of the region as a whole to successfully compete in a global market place. Minimize the competition for jobs and growth within the region and commit to what makes the entire region more competitive.
4. Focus economic and workforce development around core industry clusters. Build on existing research and work directly with employers to identify the full set of economic development and workforce development needs required to grow and compete.
5. Give high priority to public investments in infrastructure, education and quality of life. All three are crucial to attract and retain workers and businesses.
The full study includes a survey of NARC’s membership to identify the different ways that regional planning councils are engaging in regional economic planning, and the role of private and other public sector partners to shape policies, plans and partnerships. Case studies of Denver, Kansas City and Seattle highlight efforts by these high-performing regions to develop and implement comprehensive economic development strategies which include a strong emphasis on improving regional economic disparities.
Last month, the study’s authors, Autumn Campbell of NARC and Mariia Zimmerman of MZ Strategies, shared preliminary recommendations with Twin Cities regional stakeholders including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak; St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman; Kate Wolford, President of the McKnight Foundation; the Metropolitan Council and Corridors of Opportunity Policy Board; leadership of area Chambers of Commerce and Greater MSP; and the Commissioners of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.