Minneapolis: a city for the 21st Century

On August 12, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges addressed the city council summarizing her proposal to transform the city into what she calls the “city of the 21st Century.” She said, “Being a 21st Century city means we transform our work to meet the needs of the people and economy of the new century. So today I presented a budget based on that premise.” She began with the basics; the elemental needs of the city and its citizens that can meet the challenges of the 21st Century. She believes the city will grow as long it grows for everyone equally. It is a simple premise that is anything but simple, and will take revenue to achieve, which is the crux of her address.

Hodges calls it a down payment for the future success of the city. She maintains the budget originally called for a 4.4 percent levy increase, but as a result of shrewd budget decisions, non-property tax revenue increases, and city departments that have tightened their budget belts, she can now propose a 3.4 percent increase instead. She also asserts that two-thirds of property owners will enjoy a decrease in their taxes.

For Minneapolis to keep pace with the future, to stay competitive and become a city of choice, we must make a commitment to invest. How does North Minneapolis fit into this future? The Mayor is committed to equity and how it is linked to the advancement of Minneapolis. She believes it will take all the citizens to make Minneapolis the city of the 21st Century. In order for this to happen everyone must have an equal opportunity for personal growth and success. It is no secret that Mayor Hodges feels that investment for the future begins with its youngest citizens, which is why she is proposing $13 million be allocated for affordable housing as part of her Cradle to K initiative. It’s a basic need for children–to live in a safe and healthy environment, and a home offers that stability. When childrens’ lives are stable they can then focus on school and learning.

Education as an investment for the future is not just relegated to the very young but can be applied to adults as well. The Mayor’s budget proposal includes funding for 30 TechHire Initiative scholarships that is targeted for women, and people of color who will be trained in coding and other technology jobs by employers who agree to hire them at the end of their training period.

Since 2013 young men of color are mentored and guided to prepare them for positive leadership roles through Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development (BUILD). The Mayor would like to expand this vital program by dedicating $112,000 to BUILD.

And lastly another proposal is the formation of the EMS Academy that will partner with the fire department with local healthcare facilities to train adults from age 18 to 25 to become Certified Emergency Medical Technicians. Not only will this provide them with a profession but will give them an opportunity to serve their community. In addition, residents age 15 to 21 will be given a hands-on opportunity to serve as they explore a career with the Fire Department through the Fire Explorer program. Funding for these civil servant initiatives will cost $200,000.

We are nearly 16 years into the 21st Century, so Mayor Hodges’ plan is like a beacon leading Minneapolis into a new era of inclusion, expansion and prosperity. Minneapolis has long been a leader as an example of diversity and progressive reform but now with innovative leadership, we can become the city of the 21st Century.