By Roberts Woods
I am a North Minneapolis Black man speaking on behalf of the economic future for people of color. We have developed a detailed plan of action where we participate in rebuilding the Northside community now, in order to prepare for participation in building the Vikings stadium, a game changer.
Whether you want to help the disadvantaged or want less tax spending, I challenge anyone to develop a better return on taxpayer dollars than the economics of rebuilding the Northside and the stadium by involving targeted businesses and residents in a real way.
The Plan, Northside Nice, is complex. We have chosen the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) to spearhead this plan and are continuously recruiting the talent, expertise, and experienced professionals to NAMC to ensure success. Our Northside Nice Plan is made possible through the efforts of many, including Governor Dayton, Commissioner of Transportation Sorrel and Commissioner of Human Rights Lindsay.
There has been strong bipartisan legislative leadership from Republicans Beard and Gimse as well as Democrats Champion, Mullery and Dibble in passing the targeted group business (TGB) legislation for people of color, veterans, women and economically distraught people of all races.
The stadium bill would not have passed without State Senator Rosen or the Wilf family’s leadership and persistence. We are aligned with the direction that Minneapolis Mayor Rybak, city council members Barb Johnson and Don Samuels and interim Minneapolis CPED director Chuck Lutz have chartered for the Northside and the stadium.
First, we use our participation in the development of North Minneapolis to build the capacity of targeted groups to participate. Next, we spread to the entire Twin Cities. We will focus on building targeted businesses in health, energy, all construction and transportation. Targeted businesses are held accountable in absorbing the hard-to-employ workforce, especially Northside residents where unemployment is 23 percent.
In our plan, we participate in building the stadium from the beginning through professional and technical consulting. Within one year, we will use only the best construction workers and businesses with proven capacity to help build the stadium.
We plan to transplant similar industry sector empowerment models to uplift economically distraught communities throughout Minnesota. But the work and business is done by the people who live in those communities.
In all, we will remove 2000 people from taxpayer assistance, permanently, trimming the state budget by $200 million and generating $50 million in new tax revenue in the process. We turn 1000 foreclosed and vacant houses into energy-efficient homes for working families, 500 in the metro area.
In our plan, $50 million is saved in building the stadium and we guarantee 2000 season ticketholders. Our value added is convenient, creative, cost-saving energy and parking design solutions that will make our Vikings stadium world class and save the city of Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota, and the Vikings owners money.
We plan to run the business development component through the new NAMCs members and partners. The workforce piece will go through the Minneapolis Urban League, Summit Academy OIC, Twin Cities Rise, the unions, technical colleges and others.
Save this letter and reread it in 2016. If it’s business as usual, token government and contractor programs where numbers are manipulated and front companies rule the day, huge disparities between populations of color and White people will continue. But when we are successful, the Northside will become a sustainable center of economic growth for the residents who lived there at the time of the tornado.
No disrespect, but this not a government-run, sanctioned, or controlled plan. We believe the tornado relief effort was a heroic response to the Northside crisis. But only the people, residents and business owners in our Northside community can empower themselves to create the multiplier effect needed for government programs and private support to work. You cannot do it for us. But you don’t have to live in the community to help.
We realize that we need the entire state’s help and support to make it happen. We choose to control our own destiny. Count on us. We need business and work.
Can we count on you?
Robert Woods is CEO of National Association of Minority Contractors. He welcomes reader responses to [email protected]