“What is making the North Loop exciting and a gravitational point within Minneapolis?” asks Chris Palkowitsch, an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Minnesota Young Leadership Group co-chair for the March 3 event #MSPswagger – Building a Talent Powerhouse
“Why has Lowertown in St. Paul been named the best hipster neighborhood? And what’s the next area? Midway in St. Paul?” he continues. “What steps can be taken from successful areas of the city to create the next up and coming community; to grow a great urban environment for people to live—young, old and families alike.”
The answers, hope the organizers of #MSPswagger – Building a Talent Powerhouse, will be tossed into the conversation, put on the table, shared and discussed during the afternoon event at Vandalia Tower
in the Creative Enterprise Zone
of St. Paul —and over beers at Lake Monster Brewing
Created in collaboration with Greater MSP
, and to help boost its Make It. MSP
initiative to attract and retain new talent to the area, #MSPswagger boldly wishes to assert that—despite our characteristic reluctance to brag—there’s a lot to boast about in our twin towns. “We really want the event to be a conversation, a dialogue,” Palkowitsch says. “We want to hear what creates MSP swagger. Let’s be proud of what we have.”
ULI is a nonprofit organization focusing on land use and development, so the discussion will be through a professional real estate lens—with an eye also on the power of placemaking. In other words, there’s more to this topic than The North
, a conceptual and branding idea about MSP identity proposed by Eric Dayton that went viral last year. “The idea of The North is a bit of swagger, particularly in the branding,” Palkowitsch says.
“It’s about being proud of our successful and clean cities, our lakes and open space, our arts and culture, our great neighborhoods,” he continues. “Our event isn’t building on the ideas of The North so much as functioning as an additive by looking at issues of job creation and retention from the lens of real-estate and land-use professionals.”
According to the #MSPswagger webpage, the challenge in the next five years is to “overcome a predicted workforce shortage of 100,000” people. “Concise, strategic branding will enable the region to compete for talent nationally,” and critical to that endeavor is placemaking: “Creating a work, live, play culture will encourage long-term talent retention.”
“What better way is there to talk about these issues than during a program for the land-use industry,” says Aubrey Austin, director of member engagement for ULI MN. And at this point, there are more questions than answers.
“How do we talk about what is good about our region, and what’s working well, so we can better respond to the challenges ahead?” Austin suggests. “What should we be thinking about in the land-use industry, around development and places, so we can be better prepared for a growing population and new workforce? That leads to another question: How do we talk about our region to encourage people to move here?”
Moreover, Austin continues, “We need to ask: What attracts businesses to downtown? How do we figure out why businesses locate where they do? What’s so important about connectivity and transit-oriented development? How can we have a conversation that encourages people to contribute and be civically engaged with their city?”
Yes, Austin and Palkowitsch agree that MSP already has a lot going for it. But there’s more to be done.
“Part of ULI’s mission is to bring public and private entities together,” Palkowitsch says. “City and business leaders, city planners and marketing professionals all need to be part of the conversation.” The speakers for #MSPswagger reflect that variety. On the panel are: Chris Behrens, president and CEO of YA (a marketing firm that recently moved to downtown Minneapolis); Andrew Dresdner, an urban designer with Cuningham Group; and Kris Growcott, an entrepreneur.
“We’re hoping for an open discussion from different sectors talking about what’s important to them,” Austin says, “and finding common ground.”
To register for #MSPswagger – Building a Talent Powerhouse, go here