To Maintain Its Vitality, Twin Cities Must Hone Its Story

In the first of two articles looking at how Minneapolis-St. Paul can remain a prosperous and livable place, Jay Walljasper examines the Twin Cities' identity crisis.
July 27, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Twin Cities, we have a problem!" says Jay Walljasper, who has authored a report for the McKnight Foundation’s Food for Thought series on the prospects for the continued vitality of Minneapolis-St. Paul. "We’re not on most people’s radar of lively, livable, progressive, prosperous, places. The cities we compete with for business, jobs and well-educated young workers enjoy strong identities as attractive, interesting places." 

Yet, notes Ann Markusen, director of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Project on Regional and Industrial Economies, “On many economic and quality of life features, the Twin Cities outperforms other much admired metros — Boston, Denver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and San Diego. Higher educational attainment, higher labor force participation, better job opportunities for young people, lower unemployment, and higher median income adjusted for cost of living.”

"But none of this makes any difference if we keep it to ourselves," says Walljasper. "To pay only scant attention to our image in a globalized age is the equivalent of relying on a landline and P.O. box with no email, Facebook, twitter, texting or Instagram. For young people especially, who’ve internalized 'The Brand Called You' ethic of our times, reticence in talking up our strengths is interpreted as being feeble rather than being modest."

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Published on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 in MinnPost
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