Transit group receives $750,000

Initiative awarded McKnight Foundation’s Moving the Market grant

East Metro Strong, a public-private partnership to be housed at the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, is slated to receive a $750,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation, the foundation announced today. Focused on building out the regional transit system in ways that promote economic development, East Metro Strong will work with communities in Dakota, Ramsey and Washington Counties to surround proposed transit lines with employment opportunities, affordable housing and other amenities.

“21st century cities should have 21st century transportation systems,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “These funds will help us continue to build a strong, vibrant region. Interconnected transportation systems benefit our neighborhoods, our businesses and our state. The McKnight Foundation could not have picked a better recipient of their Moving the Market grant, and I look forward to working with all the stakeholders to ensure the East Metro Strong initiative moves Minnesota forward.”

This is the McKnight Foundation’s first-ever Moving the Market grant, which aimed to assist organizations attempting to connect private and public investment to benefit low-income communities.

What this Means

East Metro Strong will provide a new model for how a multi-community, integrated effort can catalyze market excitement and development in our own backyard. Our peer regions around the country and globe should take immediate note – this award cements the East Metro’s vision that tomorrow’s sought-after economic development initiatives will be driving new opportunity and growth right here in the MSP region. And that future begins today.

What’s Next

After an initial organizational kick-off meeting with the business, foundation, community and government groups that jointly submitted the East Metro Strong proposal, work will begin in earnest on a large scale in early 2014. Notably, East Metro Strong plans to incorporate catalytic, high-profile events in its 2014 agenda that will take full advantage of high-profile regional and national events happening in the MSP Region that include the MLB All-Star Game, the opening of the Green Line Light Rail Line and Railvolution, the nation’s largest transit conference.