Small Business & Workforce Development
Our city's workers and small business owners deserve a mayor who will advocate both for them and for innovative policies that advance economic opportunity for everyone. The Minneapolis business environment should be one in which residents can pick up a good idea and run with it, unhindered by bureaucratic red tape. It should also be a business environment in which workers feel safe and valued, able to be part of both their own economic future as well as their community. Every business owner, worker, and resident should be able to give open and honest feedback about what’s working when it comes to supporting businesses and workers, and know that the mayor’s office is listening and committed to finding mutually beneficial solutions.
Support equitable growth and development. Minneapolis must reject the false choice between economic growth and an equitable, inclusive economy. We must drive economic and workforce development efforts toward creating opportunities in and for communities with greatest concentrations of poverty. We need an inclusively developed set of strategies that ensure creation and expansion of business in the city while also creating a direct pipeline to both job creation and well-paying career opportunities for Minneapolis residents, especially from underserved communities.
Specified training dollars. Recently, our economy has seen an interesting predicament: we have employers that need employees and workers that need jobs, but they are not making the connection. The reason they aren’t connecting is that upstart entrepreneurs and small businesses can’t afford to train employees that won’t be productive for the first several months. Once they start paying, they need productivity. Other jurisdictions throughout the country have bridged this training gap by helping to subsidize wages in certain industries for a limited period (a couple of months, for example). After the training is complete, there is a worker with a job and an employer with a productive worker, all without the need for other safety net subsidies.
Minneapolis-first hiring. I will work to develop local hiring preference initiatives that create incentives for Minneapolis businesses to directly hire workers coming from Minneapolis high schools, colleges, and vocational training programs.
Create municipal summer employment for at-risk youth. The city should collaborate with the Parks Board, Hennepin County, and other units of government to provide targeted opportunities.
Provide a variety of vocational training options. I will work to ensure we have a spectrum of options available, such as technology degrees and certifications (including coding), apprenticeships, and artisan training.
Supporting Small Business Growth
Expand support for the Small Business Navigators program. Established by Council Member Andrew Johnson, this program uses trained navigators to help small businesses work through the often-complex processes needed to open and run a successful business in Minneapolis. This program is especially helpful for members of our immigrant community as they navigate cultural and language barriers. I will expand the program to include geographically-based and focused navigators to help small businesses in their particular area of the city.
Push for small-space retail and commercial units. Picture yourself walking down your favorite block in your favorite city to visit. You’re not walking by one large, vanilla conglomerate; you’re walking in diverse and vibrant streetscapes with 6-8 different small and locally owned shops, packed with character and diversity. We can’t be afraid to move in this direction in MInneapolis. During transitions in commercial tenancy or property ownership, commercial spaces should often be split into smaller spaces that prevent corporate entities and franchises from setting up their boilerplate while allowing for cheaper rents that give upstart entrepreneurs an opportunity to open.
Bring together schools, companies, and the city to find new and innovative ways to train and retain workers. It’s more than just one group’s job to ensure we have the jobs, infrastructure, training programs, and opportunities we need. It takes a collaborative and concerted effort to ensure we keep workers in a growing and thriving Minneapolis workforce.
Support multi-modal transportation. For many new residents, it’s city first and job second. That is, they’re choosing where they want to live and then finding a job there. Efficient, affordable, thorough public transportation is often cited as a priority in this decision-making process. Ensuring we build and deliver transit options that support all forms of commute -- pedestrians, bikes, buses, trains, and cars -- is essential.