Sustainable Growth

In 2003, the doors opened for the first time at Eastside Food Coop (Eastside). There were times when it felt as if we would never get to that point, but 14 short years later it’s hard to imagine our community without them. Eastside has become a strong community-based anchor on Central Avenue, and a tremendous source of pride for our community. From Eastside’s success, we’ve seen the launch of the Northeast Investment Coop (NEIC). The success of NEIC in turn brought us the Fair State Brewing Cooperative and now-treasured local businesses like Aki’s Bakery and the Recovery Bike shop.

I believe that the cooperative model has an important role to play in our neighborhood. The community-based cooperative model of economic empowerment means that, as we rebound from decades of disinvestment, WE steer the ship of our revitalization, not outside investors. It’s the ultimate in local control.

As an advocate, a neighborhood project director, an Eastside Co-Op founding board member, and your City Council representative I have supported and worked for the cooperative model for close to 20 years. I directly assisted in bringing a strong Eastside to Central Avenue through the following actions:

  • Early membership building, which raised capital and allowed us to open our doors at 2551 Central Ave NE in December 2003.

  • Working with the rest of the Eastside Board to create and launch the Northeast Farmers Market, which predates the physical store.

  • The securing of resources, including financial and startup support from neighborhoods, and other investors.

  • Establishing the framework for governance of Eastside through bylaws and other policies.

  • Leading efforts to locate and secure the site for a physical store.

  • Supporting financial negotiations that allowed EFC to survive (and thrive) through critical funding challenges during the early years of operations.

  • Working to creatively source and secure $250,000 in financing that closed a significant funding gap and allowed the much-celebrated expansion to move forward.

  • I proudly drew attention to the successes of Eastside and NEIC on the national and international stage during the 2014 NCBA CLUSA conference in Minneapolis.

  • I lobbied successfully for the creation of the City’s new Cooperative Assistance Program (C-TAP) in 2016, using NEIC’s success story to persuade others of the importance of cooperatives in terms of both economic and community health. C-TAP provides strategic assistance to people working to launch new cooperatives, making it much easier to navigate a path toward success.

Cooperative like Eastside, NEIC, and Fair State play an essential role in ensuring that local control is not lost to the outside corporate powers who are now realizing what we’ve known all along – that we have a vibrant, strong, thriving community. I am proud to have played a part in bringing this strong community-based development to the Eastside; and I’m excited to continue this work as we move forward!

From passing one fair minimum wage at $15 an hour, to our work together revitalizing central avenue, the key to our shared success has not been a focus on profit or corporate growth, but rather on community-based, sustainable economics. Places with a high density of locally owned businesses experience higher income, employment growth and less poverty - and locally owned businesses encourage residents to put down roots, furthering social and civic engagement.

We must continue to encourage people in our community start and maintain local, independent, thriving businesses that serve our community – keeping the dollars circulating within our local economy. As your City Council Member, we will continue to:

  • Provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, protect and expand the rights of workers, and create an environment where locally owned, independent businesses grow and flourish.

  • Support local arts groups and creative businesses to expand the creative economy and develop Creative Placemaking for our neighborhoods.

  • Promote community ownership of commercial spaces, such as the Northeast Investment Cooperative (NEIC), Fair State Brewing Cooperative, and Eastside Food Cooperative.

  • Advocate for neighborhood-serving zoning laws and help cut red tape for small and locally owned independent businesses.

  • Protect our unique commercial corridors from ill-suited big-box stores, corporate chains, and large retail and supermarket chains.

  • Negotiate set-a-sides in Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) for large redevelopment projects that include space for locally owned businesses.

  • Ensure that the Zoning and Planning Committee holds public hearings and makes decisions on a conditional use, case-by-case basis.

  • Give preference to local businesses in all City of Minneapolis procurement and contracting decisions as a means of supporting and growing our local economy

The City of Minneapolis is also a significant job provider, employing hundreds of people in good-paying positions. We must better connect these jobs with the people who need them most.

I have been working with my colleagues to implement several programs intended to improve and diversify the pool of people for open jobs. Specifically, we’ve focused on jobs in public safety, with two of my favorites described below.  

  • The EMS Pathways Academy Student Internship Program aims to diversify the Minneapolis Fire Department and Hennepin County EMS workforce. As more jobs are created in this rapidly expanding field, it is essential that we fill these positions with qualified candidates who reflect the multilingual and culturally diverse communities they serve. And we’ve made progress! The first class of graduates included 91% people of color and was over 50% female. Graduates of this program have been successfully hired as Minneapolis Firefighters, dispatchers with Hennepin EMS, and some are continuing their training to become paramedics.

  • The Community Service Officer Program provides a pathway into the Minneapolis Police Department specifically for economically disadvantaged and non-traditional candidates. CSO trainees are paid and have access to an educational assistance program that provides up to $12,000 toward a two-year law enforcement degree. The City’s most recent class of CSOs was 61% people of color.

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