Are job opportunities in North Minneapolis for real?

Or is it 2003-2017 again: “Blacks need not apply”?

For the past couple of weeks, residents in North Minneapolis, from Broadway to the north and as far down as Olson Memorial Highway, see preparations for significant construction. There have been no public meetings about it. Has there been any public input?

We are reminded of the many public meetings almost a decade ago, 2010 and 2011, when the city, county, state and federal governments were holding many community meetings to discuss the coming of a light rail by 2014. Now, four years later, we have yet to see a light rail as part of the Plymouth-Penn development.

Let’s review earlier columns and blog entries:

  • November 19, 2003 column: “What’s holding up Plymouth-Penn development?” In a deal related to what was referred to then as Hollman, the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC) was designated as the prime player on behalf of Time Warner for the development of Plymouth-Penn. At the same time, the Urban League had in place a definitive plan for the construction of a credit union for the city and county. What happened to them?
  • July 31, 2008 blog entry: list of additional columns and solution papers, 2005–2007, with one title being: “Black share of $5 billion construction: Zero. What can be done to reverse ‘Blacks need not apply’ for the coming great construction boom?”
  • Blog entry of August 28, 2009:   lists 12 columns regarding discrimination in economic development in Minneapolis.
  • October 21, 2009 column: Is the real agenda for “the Northside project, from Hollman to Heritage Park, to be a model for displacing Blacks from American cities”?
  • Columns in 2010 on the diversity study noted it took the city 15 years to tell us what we already knew, that the monitoring of hiring revealed the contraction of jobs and their income, leading to failure of success for our communities.

We hear many declarations about the prosperity African American communities, especially North Minneapolis, are enjoying. Is this finally it, as Penn Ave. is torn up for quite some time? When will the Met Council, representing the interests of the state of Minnesota, let us know what this construction is all about?

In 2010 and 2011, surveys were taken, and particularly in the area bordering Penn Ave. We see significant construction in the North Minneapolis community in the area of Olsen Memorial Highway. Some elements of that construction go up to the front door of OIC. Who, among the elected and appointed officials will let us know?

There are aspects that remind us of the last big construction project, the Vikings U.S. Bank Stadium, and the unfulfilled promises made about minority participation.

We know of at least two major projects, Thor Construction’s Corporate headquarters, and across the street, Estes Funeral Home. We have yet to see African American involvement working along Penn Ave. or Olson Memorial Highway.

As snow melts and work rises, which companies of color will be working on the projects and what are the work goals (percentages) of African Americans? Will big money include Black companies and workers?

With violence increasing on the streets of Minneapolis, including the North Side, we still await the report on how well the African American community did at 2018’s successful Super Bowl. Will the African American community be left at the starting gate and again miss out on the economic prosperity that has already begun? We await the official report on the 36 percent goal on the U.S. Bank Stadium, or is that to be forgotten as well?

Who will clarify the anticipated success story of African American involvement?

Stay tuned.


Ron Edwards is an author and hosts radio and TV shows.