Greater MSP, the Twin Cities’ economic development organization, outlined plans Tuesday to expand its workforce-development efforts and build international ties in the coming year.
The group, backed by business, public and private funding, launched in 2011 with an eye toward boosting the Twin Cities’ visibility on a global scale. Greater MSP has so far mainly focused on workforce development, business recruitment and metrics aimed at helping the region gauge its progress.
During its run, the group says it has worked with business, nonprofit and government partners to create 121,600 jobs. In addition, the group claims, it has helped drive $2 billion in investment into the Twin Cities metro area.
“It really is an extraordinary time in our community,” Greater MSP board chair Tim Welsh, a director at McKinsey & Co., said Tuesday evening at the organization’s annual meeting. The event was held at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.
Welsh highlighted recent efforts by Greater MSP to bolster the region’s workforce – a priority as the unemployment rate falls and companies remain hungry for skilled workers.
The organization recently launched Make It. MSP., an initiative designed to help employers facing a projected shortfall of as many as 100,000 workers over the next five years. The campaign aims to make the Twin Cities appealing to sought-after worker demographics: millennials and people of color.
In recent months, Greater MSP also unveiled a regional “dashboard” tool that uses comprehensive data to track progress and predict progress for the Twin Cities region in eight areas, from business vitality to livability. It’ll evolve as dynamics shift.
The tool was designed to shape business leaders’ and lawmakers’ priorities by ranking the region’s economic, educational and environmental benchmarks, among others, against rival regions.
Going forward, the agency plans to focus on international engagement. In the past year, it forged deeper relationships with partners in China, Canada, Japan and Scandinavia. A global-minded approach to growth is vital to cultivating a top workforce, Greater MSP CEO Michael Langley said.
As part of that, Greater MSP will continue in the coming year to work through its trade program, established earlier this year, to encourage bilateral investment and broader growth opportunities for Minnesota companies. The effort includes promoting exports and drawing in foreign direct investment.
While relations with western European countries and Asian partners remain strong, Langley said Greater MSP will focus on drawing investment in Minnesota businesses from Latin America and Africa.
Closer to home, Greater MSP also plans to redouble its focus on urban areas with a disproportionate number of residents looking for work. An initiative developed by the organization helps tailor economic development tools to cater to those areas.
Greater MSP received $3.36 million in contributions, according to a 2013 IRS 990 filing, the most recent available. That year, it collected another $1.16 million in government grants.
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