2001 Public/Private Partnership Awards



When Norm Coleman first took office as Mayor of Saint Paul in 1994, he faced an urban city in decline. Downtown had lost half the value of its taxable property and businesses were leaving the city at an alarming rate. The market value of the World Trade Center built in 1987 for $96 million had eroded to $50 million. That theme was repeated throughout the city, and it was obvious the need to restore economic and social vitality would require the participation and support of the private sector.

The need for vision and leadership was critical, and 3M was proud to be one of twelve founding members of the Capital City Partnership in 1996.  Mayor Coleman hosted a breakfast for the CEOs of the largest corporations, described the challenge, and told them that City Government couldn’t do the job alone. He proposed bringing together the resources and leadership of the private and public sectors, as well as the foundation and non-profit community through the Riverfront Corporation to work in partnership to achieve a community vision for Saint Paul.

Since that time, the participation of business in the Capital City Partnership has grown to over 50 CEOs, and its president John Labosky has been instrumental in working with Patrick Seeb, president of the Riverfront Corporation to establish a joint vision called “Saint Paul on the Mississippi Development Framework.” Key involvement and support by 3M in these two organizations has resulted in major planning and funding initiatives.

The first phase priority has been to bring commercial tenants back to the urban core. The focus created an environment that is attractive to businesses both physically and financially, while working to retain and attract existing and new companies. Prime examples were the expansion of Minnesota Life and Lawson Software bringing 1000 jobs downtown, filling two city blocks with new offices, parking, and street level retail.

Second, the Partnership worked to ensure that the historic arts and culture of the community would thrive by building a new $100 million Science Museum on the downtown side of the river. Most recently, the Partnership helped celebrate the life of Charles Shultz, a native of Saint Paul, by developing a “Peanuts on Parade” program that drew tens of thousands of visitors this summer to view 101 five foot tall Snoopy statues dressed in a variety of themes. That response was overwhelming, and the project raised money for a permanent memorial as well as scholarships for youth in the arts.

Saint Paul as an entertainment destination was key to the third phase. The Partnership played a key role in underwriting the City’s successful effort to lure a NHL franchise back to Minnesota, the State of Hockey. The Minnesota Wild began its inaugural season this fall in a new $175 million arena. This venture has already generated millions of dollars in private investment including new or renovated bars, restaurants and hotels. Together, the new arena, convention center and Science Museum will bring over three million new visitors to the downtown area annually.

The fourth phase, now in the planning and initial building stage, is to increase available mixed-use housing in the downtown core. The Partnership supported the Mayor’s high profile commitment to more housing by working with the business community and developers to outline the “urban villages” that are the goal of the vision. Recently, U.S. Bancorp announced plans to locate an office complex on the now vacant West Side Flats, a polluted area that has resisted development for decades. This investment will leverage the creation of over 700 units of housing.

And finally, the fifth phase will bring a critical mass of retail back to the downtown core. The Partnership and the Mayor recognized a need to evaluate the goals by conducting a market survey to determine the evolution of retail services over the next few years.  While the first four phases are being completed, the influx of workers, residents, and visitors to downtown will support the retail envisioned.

3M has provided volunteer expertise, product donations, and well over $1 million in funding of the innovative Design Center of the Riverfront Corporation and the marketing of the vision and plans through the Capital City Partnership. The Design Center provides a collaborative forum for guiding development projects to ensure long term accomplishment of the design principles of “The Framework.” By providing community calendars and supporting community events to engage the citizens in planning and celebrating accomplishments, and funding a unique 3D Quick Time Virtual Reality planning and marketing tool, 3M has been instrumental in moving Saint Paul toward a better future.

The result of this initial commitment by 3M and eleven other corporate partners has been a dramatic strengthening of the urban core, The evidence is record high absorption rates the past few years, and new retail, restaurants and attractions such as the new state-of-the-art hockey arena, and renewed confidence in Saint Paul. This unique public/private/non-profit partnership has generated what both local newspapers have hailed as a remarkable renaissance in Minnesota’s Capital City.