My Remarks to the Real Estate Summit

Here are my remarks I made to the Real Estate Summit in St Paul, May 25, 2019:

I have a quiz for you. Who said this?

“I’m announcing an investment of $11million for jobs and spaces in our city— To protect the creative sector in our capital, increase affordable spaces for artists and entrepreneurs, and boost job and training opportunities for local people. In our city—creative communities have demonstrated their important role in revitalizing areas, but over time, they can find themselves priced out of the neighborhoods they have helped regenerate.”

Anyone know?

Well, the speaker is talking about London and it’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who in 2017, announced the designation of and investments in 10 Creative Enterprise Zones in the City of London. What a remarkable move!

We, of Saint Paul’s Creative Enterprise Zone, which was founded in 2009, are flattered because Mayor Khan used our name, our words, and our ideas, but also added a big financial investment to leverage those good ideas into action. It’s quite a policy move, and one we’d like to replicate here.

I’m here as founder and board chair of St Paul’s one Creative Enterprise Zone to share some projects and trends. Meanwhile, in case you’re intrigued, we’d love to bring Mayor Khan and his team here in 2020 for a major learning exchange to stimulate ideas and investments in what we already know is working for our city. Maybe you’d like to help us bring him here. We’ll talk later!

Now to the slides with our logo and our motto: Make It Here! We want makers to make things, and to Make it—to succeed!

We agree with James Howard Kunster of Global Grid who said: The 20th Century was about getting around. The 21st Century will be about staying in a place worth staying in.”

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We see the CEZ as becoming a place worth staying in. Look at that view. Micro apartments among more than 650 new units of housing with more coming.

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Our boundaries. And our purpose: CEZ promotes and connects individuals and companies around the three LRT stations— Fairview, Raymond, and Westgate— to advance creative, economic, and cultural development. Our vision is to be a livable mixed use neighborhood recognized and sustained as a center of creativity and enterprise, A place where people make a living by their creativity.

Here is some mapping completed through our partnership with Tom Fisher and the MN Design Center. Purple area is the CEZ. Note that the Towerside Innovation District overlaps. We have shared values and goals. And different strengths. The CEZ is the second highest employment center in the city with over 45000 jobs and the highest tax revenue for St. Paul.

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Our Dunn and Bradstreet research nine years ago indicated the CEZ is home to more creative workers and entities than Lowertown. Our updated research affirms the growth of creative work (broad definition ranging from healing practitioners, dance, design, landscaping, recycling, wood, clay, more)

With that new housing I mentioned, our 2017 census data shows us with a young demographic--among the youngest in the metro. That means it is important to retain them in the workforce by generating conditions for them to stay. This panel has a lot to say about those conditions. For us the focus goes beyond amenities. For us we consider the power of Three C words—Collaboration, Clustering, and Connectivity. All three are drivers of what makes the CEZ so special. We are working to keep creative innovation in the Zone and for our globally notable creative city.

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HIGHLIGHTS of some spaces:

Landbridge: company started out of our garage in 2012.  We've doubled our sales and employees approximately every 1.5 years.  We've grown to 34 employees since 2012.  We've added about 6 employees since we moved into the CEZ in 2018 and expect the trajectory of growth to continue.

Tech Dump doubled employment. Doubled space. The social venture nonprofit is now at 60 FTEs, having processed over 25 million pounds of electronics to date. When we expanded to St Paul in 2014, we were only about 30 employees We expanded from our 30K sq ft on Prior Ave to now operating in 60K sq ft, with 30K additional for future growth.

More slides and spaces:

Visible City: We are on track to do double the amount of work we did last year. We are adding to the team and are now up to seven employees and freelancers. Among the team, the majority are people I’ve found through the university - a very important linkage for us. We are getting involved in a wider range of projects in Minnesota and in other states.

We are just about to start our first international projects, in Sydney, Australia, which will be fun and an interesting demonstration of what we do.

Kimley Horn and Case building


International Harvester: more density of workers. Smaller spaces, more people.

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We just completed some work with Capstone students at the Humphrey Institute. Highlights: 100 biz owners about space in zone. We want to stay and grow. See increases in revenues and employees. Gaps between sole proprietors, those employing 15-50 and the next level up.

What are the CEZ’s interventions?

  • Public spaces and engagement gathering spaces including need for a public ones including a town square near Raymond station.

  • Consulting services. Advocacy.

  • And a festival. All about a destination. About activation and engagement. Walkable. Bikeable. Transit. Family. Work and living close to one another.

  • Make It Here!

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Catherine Reid Day