Goff and Howard Public Relations / Public Affairs Logo

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Learning from Austin

Once a year for the past nine years, InterCity Leadership, a group of business, government and civic leaders from the Twin Cities, have visited other cities to learn how they deal with critical issues such as transportation, economic development, and education. Much like touring other homes to find ideas to make yours better, the trip has become an incredibly valuable way for our community to see how others have managed challenges and created opportunities.

This year Goff & Howard’s Mike Zipko was a part of an InterCity Leadership group that visited Austin, Texas, which has been heralded as the next Silicon Valley complete with an eclectic mix of arts, culture, and live music. At a time when the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area needs to find ways to keep existing companies and to attract new businesses, the group learned how Austin leaders have successfully done just that.
Through strong and consistent messaging, Austin has become known as the “live music capital of the world.” This buzz, along with the city’s collaborative relationship with the University of Texas, has helped attract large corporations and create thousands of jobs. According to city officials, Austin doubles in size every 20 years.

While there is much that can be learned from Austin’s success in growing its economy, there is still much to appreciate about our metro area, including the number of corporate headquarters located here, a strong system of colleges and universities, and a transportation system that continues to improve. Through trips like these, we are strengthening our regional economic development vision by incorporating some strategies from other cities and finding better ways to leverage the things that already make our region strong.

Members of the 2010 InterCity Leadership group visit the Mueller redevelopment project in Austin. In this project, the public and private sector are working together to redevelop a former airport into a 711-acre, master-planned, mixed-use development that will be home to approximately 10,000 people, 10,000 permanent employees, 10,000 construction jobs, more than 4,900 homes, and approximately 140 acres of public open space. The project could be an example for the Twin Cities to look at as decisions are made about redeveloping the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills and the Ford Plant site in Saint Paul.