Guest post today from Cecil Smith, President and CEO of Minnesota Multi Housing Association.
Our message: think twice.
As President and CEO of the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, I want to thank our business coalition partners for their support by joining the Sensible Housing Ballot Committee (SHBC) - a broad-based coalition of organizations and individuals who believe in sensible housing solutions. I am grateful that we stand united in common purpose to defeat two proposals on the November ballot in Minneapolis and St. Paul - which if enacted, would make the current housing shortage in both cities even worse.
During a global pandemic, rising economic inequality and surging inflation, we face another crisis in the form of two public questions: Question 1 in St. Paul and Question 3 in Minneapolis – that propose limits on how much rents can rise. These proposals are problematic for a host of reasons.
For starters, Question 1 in St. Paul puts a strict 3% annual cap on all rent increases, without consideration of inflation. Question 1 will enact a rent control ordinance without any exemptions, even for Mom and Pop property owners or new construction - leading to fewer and poorer-quality housing options in our city. This proposal will impact economic development, new investment, jobs, and the neighborhoods in the city. a better answer to the problem of scarce housing and increasing rents is to increase the housing supply, rather than control prices, which discourages investment in housing.
Question 3 in Minneapolis would give the City Council the authority to regulate rents and create rent controls. Experts have shown that rent control results in less housing - not more - and poorer quality housing. The Minneapolis Star Tribune tells us, “Among economists, rent control has long been considered a textbook example of bad public policy, one that messes with the smooth function of the housing market while failing to consistently help those who really need it.” Supporters of Question 3 cannot say how much the measure will cost taxpayers - or how it will be enforced. Question 3 is essentially a blank check to the City Council to create any kind of rent control ordinance they want at whatever cost they choose – all without voter approval.
The Sensible Housing Ballot Committee and its coalition partners are giving Twin Cities voters the facts about Question 1 and Question 3 - and our message is getting through to Minnesotans: Think Twice about rent control. These rent control ballot initiatives will impact our cities growth, jobs and will exacerbate our housing shortages and reduces the quantity and quality of available housing. However, to defeat these measures we need you to talk to your neighbors, family, friends, and colleagues in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Contact your elected officials to express your concerns about these measures. Above all - vote NO on rent control on November 2.
You can follow the SHBC campaign by visiting www.ThinkTwiceStPaul.com and www.ThinkTwiceMinneapolis.com or follow us on Twitter at @ThinkTwiceSTP and @ThinkTwiceMPLS.
October 20 is National Support Your Local Chamber Day. Cheers to all the chambers reaching, serving, promoting all of you together!
See you in the trenches.
A key F.D.A. advisory panel has concluded a series of votes to recommend boosters for all three coronavirus vaccines used in the U.S. — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The F.D.A. and the C.D.C. have already authorized Pfizer boosters and the lower-dose Moderna booster. Still waiting on J.&J.
Senate Republicans are pushing for exemptions to the vaccine/testing mandate for state employees who have already been sick with COVID-19. State workers who refuse to get the vaccine must get tested weekly for COVID-19. The state policy already exempts unvaccinated individuals from weekly testing for 90 days after they have been infected. Seventy-four state workers have been placed on “no-pay” status for refusing to be vaccinated or tested.
In the week ending Oct 2, nearly 1400 K-12 students tested positive for COVID-19. And that’s a decline. Minnesota got the New York Times treatment earlier this week because our hospitals are nearing capacity again. This is especially true in rural Minnesota hospitals.
The big story this week: Rising costs (wholesale prices rose a record 8.6% over the last 12 months) are underscoring inflation that's looking less and less transitory. It's a problem that's likely to really start hitting consumers come holiday shopping season, given a supply chain backlog that's likely to linger throughout winter. What’s causing inflation to rise in the Fed’s Ninth District specifically? Interesting that Mpls Fed President Kashkari thinks short-term interest rates will stay near zero for a few more years.
Strong Q3 earnings reports from U.S. Bank, United Health, Delta, and others. And that includes the Minnesota government!
DEED has announced its first round of Main Street Economic Revitalization Awards. On behalf of Saint Paul, the Saint Paul Minnesota Foundation has been awarded $8.96M, to support economic recovery from the impacts of social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. This award accounts for over 22% of the funding (out of 8 awards). See a list of all awardees here.
Employer Tax Credit’s uncertain future. What you need to know.
Please take this 5-minute survey to help the Minneapolis Fed and President Neel Kashkari better understand how your business is faring during the recovery phase of the pandemic.
State: Governor Walz has started his tour of projects seeking state funding. According to MMB Commissioner Schowalter, requests for the 2022 capitol budget total nearly $5.5B. That compares with a 2020 bonding bill that totaled $1.9M, and was the largest in state history.
Tremendous – and well deserving – group of MSPBJ’s 2021 Women in Business. Read, promote, celebrate with them. Their success is ours!
Find out what’s going on with your Chamber on our Events Calendar! Lots of networking opportunities, and our final Equity Leadership Series of the year, tomorrow, on “How to lead differently and track impact.” Cap off the year with our Equity Summit on Nov 9. And, yes, save the date on December 9 for our annual Holiday Open House – this year is our turn to thank the restaurants!
Workers are quitting at record rates. And restaurants are bearing the brunt of it. What’s really behind the labor shortage? Watch an interview with the Minneapolis Fed’s labor economist to hear what Abigail Wozniak has to say.
The SBA’s Minnesota office is hosting a panel discussion: Addressing Workforce Needs: Creating Positive Company Culture. Oct. 27, 3 – 4:30 p.m. Hear from business owners working to build company culture to support employee recruitment and retention. Register here.
Nationwide research shows that 67% of people are experiencing increased stress, 57% have increased anxiety and 54% are emotionally exhausted. Productivity is impacted in many ways, as one in five of our employees are taking longer to finish tasks. As leaders, empathy is one of the greatest skills we can bring to the table. Learn more about the research here.
Make sure you register for our Equity Summit! It is the place for business and community leaders to gather each year and chart a continued path of progress. Register here.
Racism and the Economy: Focus on the Wealth Divide. Join the Fed at this next even in their virtual series examining the impact of structural racism.
Target announces its plan to invest $100M in Black-led organizations through 2025 as it continues to realign its philanthropic priorities.
Scannell Properties has paid $3.5M for a development site that will expand its Amazon-anchored industrial park in Lakeville.
Amazon is planning to build a fourth Twin Cities warehouse – in Woodbury. 515K SF distribution center, potential for 500-1000 jobs. Located on SW corner of Hudson Road and Manning Ave. To be completed in late summer, 2022.
B Line’s $65M BRT will connect downtown Saint Paul to Uptown along Marshall and Selby avenues and Lake Street.
Oakdale considers Minneapolis-Stillwater rapid-transit buses.
At the November General Election, St. Paul residents will be presented with a rent control ballot question. Your Chamber has joined a coalition of business groups, real estate professionals, and trade unions to oppose this proposed action. Quite simply: Think Twice. On its face, rent control sounds easy. Logical even. Until you scratch the surface. And then you should be alarmed. This is a political tool to address an economic challenge. And nowhere in the world is such an ordinance in place. Because it doesn’t work (one of many references: according to Brookings Institution, rent control is a short-term solution, but “in the long run it decreases affordability, fuels gentrifications, and creates negative spillovers on the surrounding neighborhood.”)
I want to back up for just a moment. As a Chamber, we have taken a very clear and strong position in support of equity. We believe that the future of our economy depends on how we address equity and inclusion today. Our opposition of this ordinance is in alignment with our values because rent control will not deliver what we need – more quality housing that is available and accessible to all Saint Paul residents.
A good question: if we oppose this proposed ordinance, what are we for? We support the need for housing that is affordable and accessible. We acknowledge that the private sector must demonstrate real commitment to this. We also want to encourage all housing development – at every price point. To support that, there are other options worth exploring. And we are committed to that policy work into 2022.
What would the rent control policy do to Saint Paul taxes? Take the time to read it. Seriously.
In other news:
Finally, today is Indigenous People’s Day. As we talk about the place we’re in, I want us to think bigger, deeper, and longer. For the moment, I’d like to think of Saint Paul specifically. The Prairie Island Indian Community remains deeply committed to Saint Paul. In honor of the Dakotah and all our first people, I’d like to share a land acknowledgement today:
The St. Paul Area Chamber acknowledges that the land we work and live on is the traditional and ancestral homeland of the Daḳota people, as well as other indigenous people. The Daḳota were forced to cede their lands in return for goods and services, but the government did not uphold the terms of these treaties, which lead to widespread devastation. We recognize this painful past, and we honor Daḳota peoples’ history on this land, their sovereignty, and their continued contributions to our region.
Minnesota comes from the Daḳota name for this region, Mni Sota Maḳoce (ma-KOH-chay) — "the land where the waters reflect the skies." The Daḳota and numerous other Indigenous peoples, whose cultural, spiritual, and economic practices are inherently woven into this landscape, hold this land sacred. We recognize them as the original stewards of this land who had thriving and vibrant communities prior to white settlement. By offering this land acknowledgement, we affirm tribal sovereignty and enlist today’s participants to learn more about the history and culture of the Dakota and other indigenous people of Minnesota.
Across the state, hospitalizations surge as cases climb – especially in Greater Minnesota. That said, nationally, COVID-19 is in mysterious retreat. Is the worst of the pandemic behind us or is this another repeat of the “two-month cycle”?
Pfizer has asked the government to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. If approved, reduced-dose kids’ shots could begin within a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, students (and staff) are getting COVID. And Minnesota caregivers are dealing with a ‘capacity crisis’ with pediatric hospital beds.
Tools from the Department of Labor:
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis continues to track the economic recovery among businesses across the Ninth District, a region that includes Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, parts of Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Please take this 5-minute survey to help the Minneapolis Fed and President Neel Kashkari better understand effects on your firm. With other business voices from across the Ninth District, your input will help the Federal Reserve System shape monetary policy to help businesses thrive. If you get this survey from multiple sources, please respond to the survey only once.
National jobs report for September: it’s a mixed bag. Hiring has slowed, a lot of parents are still not working because of kids at home, but unemployment is down to 4.8%, and the national health outlook has improved.
Debt limit: The House's recess will be interrupted Tuesday for a vote on the Senate-passed measure to lift the debt limit by $480 billion, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). What we're watching: The measure is expected to pass and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it, avoiding what the Treasury Department predicted to be a default on Oct. 18. But the temporary fix leaves only one other certainty: lawmakers will be facing the same problem in a few short months. What's more, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saidRepublicans will filibuster any attempts to address the ceiling via regular order, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has continued to insist that Democrats will not use reconciliation to raise it on their own.
County: Last Tuesday was a momentous day for the the Rush Line. The Ramsey County Board committed $39.9M to the project, a key step toward securing federal money to help pay for the estimated $457M-$457M line.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update
More Big News: the 2022 MLS All-Star game is coming to Saint Paul.
The good news for restaurants? Customers are coming back – especially in the suburbs, benefitting from the continuation of remote work. Do your part to visit your favorite place with some of your favorite people – and do so downtown, if you can! Looking forward to seeing you at the newly-reopened St. Paul Grill, or St. Paul’s original Green Mill, among others. And don’t miss Summit Brewing celebrating 35 years – we’re all invited to the party on Saturday, Oct 16.
Mall of America announces its newest cohort of vendors for its Community Commons space.
Find out what’s going on with your Chamber on our Events Calendar!
The mission of the St. Paul Area Charitable Foundation is to make targeted investments to develop and support engaged leaders who enhance a vibrant East Metro business community. Our Really Big Time (Virtual) Silent Auction to support the work runs Oct 12 – Oct 20. The Foundation supports Leadership Saint Paul, the Equity Leadership Series, and the DEI Collaborative. We encourage you to support the Foundation through shopping the auction – it opens on Oct 12!
The Ramsey County WIB has added a new Construction-Green Jobs Committee to focus on uplifting the construction industry and the emergency of green career pathways.
Calling all BIPOC Interested in Board Service! Attend this virtual Board Recruitment Fair on Oct 26, 5-7pm.
In Saint Paul: what should happen with the Public Safety Annex and Pedro Park? See the plan and more info on the City's Pedro Park web page. A process that started with an RFP in 2017 has languished since. The Capitol River Council would like to hear your ideas. Contact Jon Fure at email@example.com or 651-221-0488.
October is Manufacturing Month, which kicked off on Friday, recognizing the critical importance of manufacturing to Minnesota’s economy and highlighting the many career opportunities in this vital industry. It’s impossible to overstate its importance to Minnesota’s economic well-being. The pocketbook impact on households statewide is tremendous, considering that manufacturing's direct and indirect employment accounts for 40% of all jobs statewide. And manufacturing jobs tend to pay substantially higher on average.
And as a leading indicator of economic trends, manufacturing continues to exceed expectations – even their own. A good friend of mine leads a tier 2 manufacturer servicing, among other clients, the aerospace industry. We had lunch together in September and he tells me they are 20% ahead of 2020 budget projections already, and orders continue to grow. The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) remains above 60 which, as I’ve indicated in previous blogs, is a strong indicator of economic expansion.
The Minnesota Chamber’s annual Manufacturer’s Summit is this Wednesday, October 5, at the DoubleTree by Hilton – Park Place, in Minneapolis.
And remember: manufacturing includes the many food manufacturers here. So when you next buy that Pearson’s candy bar, or Podium Wear’s athletic gear, know you are supporting enterprises here in the state. Shop away!
On a fun note:
Twin Cities Marathon – “the most beautiful urban marathon in America” - ran yesterday, from downtown Minneapolis to the State Capitol grounds. Approximately 4500 runners! Men’s champion: Mohamed Hrezi, of Philadelphia, PA (average 5:10 pace); women’s winner: Naomi Fulton, of Hartland, WI (average 6:20 pace). Two Gopher alums rounded out the women’s podium: Molly Eastman and Baily Ness.
See you in the trenches.
Record number of COVID-19 cases are being reported in Minnesota’s pre-K12 schools.
Vaccine mandates in the workplace:
The Comcast RISE Investment Fund in now open October 1-14 for businesses in the following Minneapolis-St. Paul counties: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington Counties. Grants will be announced at the end of November 2021 and awarded in December 2021.Here is a YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXVAf3-Mxys&t=27s
Shock to none: supply chain disruptions limit consumer spending. What products are we having the most difficulty procuring? Download Morning Consult’s report to see their findings. Supply Chain Disruptions Limit Consumer Spending.
Regional: Ramsey County traffic stops: here’s the new policy – and its potential impact.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
Twin Cities Business has named Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of the St. Paul-based Center for Economic Inclusion, as its Person of the Year for 2021. Black founded the center in 2017 for “creating inclusive regional economies by equipping public and private sector employers to dismantle institutional racism and build shared accountability for inclusive economic growth.”
To keep in touch with what is happening in downtown St. Paul this Fall, click here.
And at your Chamber?
Find these and more on our Events Calendar!
The 5 benefits of joining a leadership development organization can help you make an informed decision. It also can help you think about your goals for leadership development and find an organization that can support them. You’ve invested so much in your business… consider investing in yourself.
The U.S. Department of Commerce is seeking applicants for the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), which advises the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on growing equitable economic prosperity by accelerating innovation and catalyzing technology entrepreneurship. Application deadline is 5 p.m. EDT on October 25, 2021. For more information, visit: https://www.eda.gov/oie/nacie.
Housing and Unemployment: Hardest-hit Neighborhoods One Year into the Pandemic. Family Housing Fund partnered with Wilder Research to identify the zip codes most impacted by housing cost burden and continued unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the report and explore the new data tools.
Boldt buys 6+ acres from Bethel University for a senior project.
MNDOT has submitted a preliminary request for $800 million in trunk highway bonds to fund improvements to “high priority bridge projects,” plus an additional $200 million in general obligation bonds to pay for repairing or replacing deficient bridges owned by cities, counties and townships throughout the state.
A medical building will be part of the Highland Bridge development. Ryan will break ground in December on the 2-story, 60K SF facility on the corner of Ford Parkway and Mount Curve Boulevard. Read M Health’s press release here.