Front of mind and with me every day is “the business lane” as we address our priorities and challenges: public safety, a potential Saint Paul sales tax proposal, proposed family leave mandates, housing in a rent control environment, our unsheltered population, all of which impact our success in welcoming and supporting business development. Today I want to talk about 2 things: public safety and the proposed 1% sales tax in Saint Paul.
First off, public safety. I had a chance to sit down with St. Paul’s new Chief of Police last week and was encouraged. I conveyed to him our very serious and immediate concerns about lack of accountability, crisis as well as chronic issues around Central Station, youth offenders, lack of prosecution at the County level on offenses that are therefore repeated – by a small group of offenders. All within the context of ensuring employees and visitors alike feel welcome and safe when they enter our beloved city. We had a very candid conversation and I know he feels the weight of his responsibility across these concerns and more.
As I told him, business owners have accountability of their own – to clients, tenants, employees. We are wired to deliver on expectations, taking direct charge as needed. Absent a sense of order within a city, those same business owners are inclined to “take matters in their own hands.” My inclination is to give this new Chief a moment. He’s smart, already invested in our community. I want to see how he tackles “accountability.”
Second is the proposed 1% sales tax in Saint Paul. On this one, we want to hear from you. Candidly, I’m not philosophically opposed to the use of a sales tax. That said, so much goes into it in this case – the timing, the amount, the restrictions, other taxes/fees/costs business owners have absorbed – or will. With other business-aligned partners, we will be sending out a survey later in January to gather your input. Please let us know what you’re thinking. Your response will inform me as I talk with Mayor Carter about the business perspective on his proposal. You are a diverse community and I anticipate the responses will be as well. That said, we do need your input. And Mayor Carter does want to know what you think!
Finally, it’s Annual Meeting time again, and it promises to be our biggest yet. Our theme this year is “Investing In Tomorrow.” Business leaders are adapting to a tomorrow that already is upon us. To my mind, our most important job is to stay relevant as we adapt to tomorrow’s people, culture, and technology. Please join us, and bring a “friend we haven’t met yet.” I look forward to seeing you!
See you in the trenches.