Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. have emerged as complicating factors in Minnesota’s effort to attract Amazon Inc.’s second headquarters, but some Twin Cities tech leaders say the state’s economic future shouldn’t be handcuffed by the two homegrown firms.
In the week since Amazon announced it was looking for a city beyond Seattle to build an office that may eventually employ 50,000 people, Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges expressed less enthusiasm at the prospect than their peers elsewhere. Dayton said the state’s bid for Amazon, due Oct. 19, would be “restrained” and both leaders cited conversations with Target and Best Buy, who together employ about 20,000 people at headquarters in the Twin Cities.
Some executives said Wednesday that they fear the deference to those companies shows that officials are more concerned about the state’s present than its future.
“Unrestrained isn’t wise with taxpayer dollars, but I hope we are not holding back due to the current incumbents,” said John Tedesco, chief executive of Leadpages, one of the most successful startups in Minneapolis this decade. “The city has to continue to evolve and the companies that come here have to continue to evolve.”
Following a national trend, Minnesota families in 2016 had more money in their pockets, were less likely to be poor and were more likely to have health insurance, data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau show.
Yet those successes were not felt equally. Large gaps remain between the income, poverty and insurance rates of many Minnesotans of color and their white neighbors.
Minnesota’s median household income rose 3.3 percent between 2015 and 2016 to $65,599, the census found. Asian and white households had the highest incomes, while Hispanic, American Indian and black families earned considerably less.
Black households did see a 10 percent increase in income over 2015 but still earned just $33,436, or roughly half of the state’s median household income.
Incumbents running for re-election have some unique handicaps, and being a target is one of them. Challengers can criticize while offering only generalized examples of what they might do differently.
In the 2017 Minneapolis mayoral race, Betsy Hodges has certainly experienced that from her 15 opponents, some more than others.
But incumbents running for re-election also have some unique advantages. Mayors get to be mayor — with all of the attention and standing that brings. Hodges’ challengers rarely get the full attention of media coverage when they make pronouncements, and they don’t get to deliver their remarks amid the trappings of the office.
Hodges took full advantage of that on Tuesday, when she delivered her fourth Minneapolis city budget address in City Council chambers. In a speech that came a month after the city charter says it should have —but also a month closer to election day — the 45-minute address both bragged about her accomplishments and promised to continue to work on a list of priorities: equity, cultural change in the police department, addressing a housing affordability problem and establishing cities like Minneapolis as a fighter of climate change.