Make sure you mark your calendars for our Annual Meeting on February 29 (Leap Day!) at RiverCentre. We're already making plans to create a fantastic evening of making connections that count with you.
Before we get to my thoughts for the week, I wanted to send two shout-outs: first of all, congratulations are in order to us! Greater MSP region wins designation as U.S. Tech Hub! Announcement came through last week that the region has been designated as one of 31 tech hubs across the country. More than 20 organizations collaborated through the GREATER MSP Partnership to develop a shared strategy that will enhance U.S. economic and national security by advancing the country’s global leadership in medical device technology. The “Minnesota MedTech 3.0” effort builds on existing strengths to create a medical device ecosystem that is nation-leading. We have a real opportunity here; thanks to Greater MSP’s leadership on this effort!
My second shout-out is to our partner, Midway Chamber of Commerce, and to our Government Affairs team here at the Chamber. On Monday we published a joint op ed in the Pioneer Press outlining our concerns with the proposed sales tax. It’s worth a read.
This second note is really the genesis of my thoughts for today: informed thinking as it related to voting – democracy at work. I agree with Tip O’Neill that all politics are local, and I’m not being hyperbolic to say that this year is of historic importance for the future of the City of Saint Paul. The majority of our City Council will be new, we will have a new Council President, and we have key issues at stake – among them, potential additional local sales tax, and the future of rent control. I was interviewed last week on the issue of the sales tax, and I’ll say to you what I said to WCCO: what we all owe to this great city and to one another is informed voting. Learn the issues, think through potential consequences of various policy decisions, and vote. We don’t have to agree; we must, however, agree to take this responsibility seriously. Voting is your opportunity to have a say in the future of your city.
As it relates to the various East Metro races, our East Metro Voter Guide will introduce you to various candidates’ policy positions. The Pioneer Press has run some great articles diving into more detail on the Saint Paul races (School Board, Ward 1, and overview). Our PAC has endorsed several candidates. All this information can inform your thinking. In a discussion about the upcoming election last week, a good friend suggested that we use rank choice voting to our advantage. You can look at the candidates in the different races, rank them according to the priorities you consider most important, and then select those who, to you, are “acceptable” vs “unacceptable.” And you can vote accordingly. You don’t have to pick just one.
I encourage you to show up and, as always, I’ll see you in the trenches!
The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of a key business tenet: be prepared for the unexpected. Even before the pandemic, however, we already were in the midst of a critical shift: from one generation to the next. And the speed of this transition will only increase in the decades ahead. Leaders are transitioning, job hunting is becoming ever more competitive, and labor shortages will continue. It is critical, therefore, to get your brand in front of tomorrow’s leaders. Your Chamber is working hard to provide you opportunities to get in front of students and current job seekers alike, all with the intent of introducing them to you.
Last week was our 2nd annual Career Connect Day at RiverCentre. We welcomed approximately 2000 students in the day’s first half of programming, and close to 200 job seekers walking through in the afternoon. Career exploration for most, dozens of interviews – and job offers! We are SO proud of our team and volunteers who ran the program, our sponsors and partners, and – most especially – the school leaders who are 100% invested in growing their partnership with the business community.
We have big plans for our Career Connect Day/job fair next year, to be larger and inclusive of more schools/employers. We have a vision of making this opportunity available to every business, student, job seeker in the metro. THANK YOU, to all of you who are taking a chance on this opportunity.
We had a wait list for employers this year. If you'd like to hold your spot for next year, please contact Kevion. You can also view photos of this year's Career Connect here.
See you in the trenches,
If you know me at all, you know I track economic trends. This year has been really unpredictable for most of us.... and the one question you ask me is: "What are you anticipating for 2024?" Candidly, trend points are still forming and are inconsistent; we have both positive and negative indicators such that the picture is still unclear. But I’ll tell you what I’m thinking. Brace yourselves for some data.
First, let’s look at 2023 so far. The Manufacturing, Services, and Composite PMIs all have been at or below 50 all year (which, if you remember, translates to an indication of business slowing rather than growing); business confidence, too, has clocked in at similar percentage points. The Minneapolis Fed just published a working paper on the "Global Flight to Safety, Business Cycles, and the Dollar." Global Consult just published its October 2023 Global Consumer Confidence Charts. The Minnesota Chamber Foundation publishes a very informative quarterly Economic Snapshot. This research and more, together with the intel I get from you, translates to what I’m anticipating in 2024.
It's been a ride this year, to be sure. For 2024, we’ve got some strong positive trends alongside notable headwinds. Overall, I feel positive about 2024. I anticipate a slow start, but I am betting on that economic “soft landing.” Keep reading if you want to dig into the details with me.
The trends I’m seeing and watching:
So, there you go. Lots of data. Certainly, some personal “sense” of things. To my mind, 2023 has been the hardest year of this COVID “season.” But our economy’s resiliency has surpassed expectations, and – again – I anticipate that 2024 will be steady but slow.
See you in the trenches,
Reflecting on our time in Philadelphia last week, I've remained captivated by - what I consider to be - the most impactful aspect of a trip like this: humanizing leadership. It's an opportunity to spend time with folks I want to know better, in a more informal and extended timeframe. We get to see one another relaxed, reflective, enthusiastic, and utterly human. And we are learning. How other cities work, how leaders in those cities think, communicate, advance priorities they are working on. It's really quite extraordinary. No matter the region, including ours, around us are other leaders who want to "do good" - even when we don't always agree on how to do it.
My greatest takeaways, every year, come from the people around me. And this year was no different. I've been thinking a lot about this idea that great leadership, humanized leadership, requires great empathy. Beyond intelligence, beyond skill. Empathy. Deep compassion for the lives and perspectives of others. And this empathy is required of us, no matter the response of others. Who do I want to be? How can I care for and value the people around me? Sometimes I think that we are SO busy, we are incentivized NOT to be curious. Not to care. Not to learn. And that busy-ness wears us out, drains our capacity for empathy.
So I encourage you to remain connected, both to those who help you recharge and to those who are affected by the power you wield. Stay connected, human. Because from that can grow more innovation, inclusion, and even success. It doesn't mean that I stop being a strong leader or an impassioned business person. I am, however, challenged to listen intentionally, and to extend empathy specifically to leaders around me I want to encourage - again, even when I don't always agree with how they do their work.
Something to think about...
We are so busy, every day, it's easy to miss
See you in the trenches,
I’m writing this week’s blog from Philadelphia, we just wrapped up our full day of programming at ICLV. Fascinating, beautiful city. We can learn a lot. Philadelphia, too, is a city of neighborhoods. And our two regions wrestle with similar issues of public safety, poverty, unsheltered, the need to stimulate business investment. They also have some different approaches for their growth that I find particularly interesting.
We heard from former Mayor Nutter, and I especially appreciated his perspective that overall improvement in their downtown starts with growth of tax base through business investment alongside more housing development. He has been a leading advocate for tax reduction to advance this growth.
We also heard from Paul Levy, CEO of their Center City District. They are a larger version of our Saint Paul Downtown Alliance or Minneapolis Downtown Council. They focus on place, planning, and business attraction in the downtown “Center City.”
Philadelphia has a storied history of change, challenge, recovery, innovation. Today, they have 310k jobs downtown, representing 42% of the city’s total. 40M SF of office space, 13k hotel rooms, 75k residents. And they are growing. How? Based on input from developers, they employ a tax abatement strategy for conversion of obsolete commercial space and for new commercial/housing developments.
More to come on my overall themes from ICLV; know that we have a room full of employers and public sector leaders here listening and learning!
See you in the trenches,