ASk A Researcher

June 2012

Jane Tigan updates us on the Central Corridor

Jane Tigan

Construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail Line running along University Avenue and linking downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis is well underway. The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative provides support to build on the strengths of adjacent neighborhoods, and is working with Compass staff to track changes along the corridor. Compass researcher Jane Tigan updates us on findings from the recently released Central Corridor key outcomes: 2012 indicators.

Q:Construction just hit its half-way point. How is it impacting businesses along the corridor?

Beginning in February 2011, the Metropolitan Council’s program office for the Central Corridor began tracking the openings, closures, and relocations of business that are immediately fronting the Central Corridor construction. Between February and December of 2011, there was a net loss of 3 businesses along the corridor. This was made up of 53 openings, 48 closings, and 8 relocations off the Corridor. It is impressive that even amidst a bleak economic picture and the prospect of a year or more of construction, 53 businesses chose to open right along the rail line. Another 15 businesses also chose to relocate along the rail line.

We also looked at the business climate before construction began and included the neighborhoods adjacent to the rail line. Overall, businesses suffered a loss of 7 percent during 2009 and 2010. However, these losses appear to have less to do with the light rail construction than the sluggish economy, since they mirror those of the Twin Cities as a whole, and they occurred before actual construction began. Establishments that employ between 5 and 19 people took the largest hit. During 2009-2010 they suffered a net loss of 20 percent, more severe than the trend for the Twin Cities metro. This is of concern, since many are locally-owned, culturally-diverse, and define the unique identity and vitality of the Corridor.

More information on the efforts around business retention, mitigating the impact of construction, and the work of the Business Resource Collaborative can be found at the Funder's Collaborative web site.

Q: Are goals for inclusion of women and people of color in light rail construction jobs and contracts being met?

As of December 2011, contracting for the construction of the line is on par to reach its goals for inclusion of minorities, women, and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE). Contracts to DBEs have exceeded a target goal of 15.5 percent. Female workforce participation is slightly above a target goal of 6.0 percent; the minority workforce is slightly below a target goal of 18 percent.

Q: How well is the Collaborative meeting its goal of developing effective coordination and collaboration?

With all the construction and accompanying concerns about business during the period, Wilder Research conducted interviews with a variety of stakeholders including government, nonprofit, and community groups to learn how groups working along the Corridor are working together and share common goals for equitable development. Responses show that, overall, stakeholders along the Corridor feel informed, agree that stakeholders collaborate effectively, and believe that common goals are shared.

Those who were interviewed also took the time to tell us more about what they thought about their work and the work of the Funders Collaborative. A sampling of comments include:

“We have to find a way that politicians, technicians, professionals and other participants, including consultants can spend more time up-front in the communities involved to develop awareness of the social issues involved with equity—bring the people with the pencils and layer that with the issues—we are working on how we can do that. “

“Alignment between the two cities has been a success. Before the two cities didn't talk, particularly on affordable housing, business and land use, not just the transit piece. In early planning, it was around the transit issue that they came together and it expanded to include affordable housing, business and land use.”

“For all my crankiness about some of these issues, it is the best effort I have ever seen, bringing people to the table, listening, and responding. It has a long way to go to be ideal. I tip my hat to all parties, being engaged, responding, trying to respond in new ways and our community will be better because of it.”

Read more about it:

For Discussion: Jonathan Sage-Martinson, Central Corridor Funders    Collaborative
Central Corridor Funders Collaborative
The Line Media newsletter
Business Resources Collaborative:
Program Office for the Central Corridor, Metropolitan Council

Jane is the lead author of the 2012 Tracker and key Outcomes Report. She works on Minnesota Compass and related projects that monitor economic and social change through indicators. Jane holds a Masters of Urban Planning degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

 

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