Corridors of Opportunity Facts

Connecting people, places, and prosperity

Corridors of Opportunity is a broad-based initiative focused on accelerating the development of the region’s transit system and providing new opportunities for nearby development to connect people of all incomes and backgrounds to jobs, housing choices, recreation and services.

Corridors of Opportunity partners are engaged in nearly two dozen region-wide planning and implementation activities. Key goals include: 

  • More options for how people get around and where they can choose to live and work 

  • Development along transitways that pave the way for economic prosperity for people of all backgrounds 

  • A meaningful role for historically under-represented populations in decision-making related to transit and development 

  • Making it easier and a higher priority to develop along transitways 

The work ranges from direct investment in real estate projects and small business development to comprehensive corridor-wide planning and intensive community engagement. The three-year initiative (2011-2013) has two primary funding sources: 

  • Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): $5 million. 

  • Living Cities, a collaboration of 22 of the nation’s largest foundation and financial institutions: $2.7 million in grants and $13 million in loans. 

Transit Corridors
photo of light rail pulling up to a stopPlanners have identified 15 major transit corridors for further development in the region by 2030. Currently, Corridors of Opportunity is focused on 7 transitways: 

  • METRO Blue Line (Hiawatha LRT). Light rail service began in 2004 between downtown Minneapolis, MSP International Airport and the Mall of America. 
  • Central Corridor (METRO Green Line). Light rail service will begin in mid-2014 between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. 
  • Southwest LRT (METRO Green Line Extension). Planning is underway for light rail service from downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie in the west metro to begin in 2018. 
  • METRO Red Line (Cedar Avenue BRT). The region’s first Bus Rapid Transit service will begin in June 2013 between downtown Minneapolis and Apple Valley in the south metro. 
  • Bottineau Transitway. Planning is underway for light rail transit between downtown Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park in the northeast metro. 
  • Gateway Corridor. Planning studies are underway to determine a route and mode between St. Paul and Woodbury in the east metro. 
  • Northstar Commuter Rail. Daily commuter rail service began in 2009 between downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake in the northwest metro. 

Progress to date

photo of teacher and two students at the New American AcademyStrengthening economies and building prosperity
In 2012, Corridors of Opportunity and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative funded technical assistance to 353 Central Corridor businesses, 9 fa├žade improvement grants for 15 businesses, and business expansion loans for 7 businesses. In 2012, the Neighborhood Development Center trained 41 emerging entrepreneurs along the planned Southwest and Bottineau LRT corridors. 

Engaging historically under-represented populations
The Community Engagement Team awarded $750,000 in grants to 19 community-based organizations to engage under-represented populations. The team’s work reached more than 20,000 people, and 1,000 are actively engaged. 

Making it an easier and higher priority to develop along transitways
In 2011 and 2012, the partners have leveraged more than $5.4 million in funds and realigned or re-purposed more than $36 million to support Corridors goals. 

Investing in new development and preserving affordability
Grant and loan resources are expected to produce up to 1,362 housing units (36% will be affordable), up to 190,000 square feet of commercial space, and 2,147 new jobs. 

Changing practices and systems
Corridors of Opportunity partners are looking to make lasting changes to support transitway development. Among them: leading pre-development roundtables with developers and funders/lenders to help advance TOD projects during the early stages of a project; and establishing new processes that link transit engineering considerations with land-use planning. 

Corridors of Opportunity Partners 

Representatives from the following organizations serve on the policy board: 

Central Corridor Business Resources Collaborative • City of Eden Prairie • Regional Council of Mayors • City of Minneapolis • City of Saint Paul • The Cornerstone Group • Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB) • Family Housing Fund • Hennepin County • The Itasca Project • City of Apple Valley/Livable Communities Advisory Committee • Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) • The McKnight Foundation • Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers • Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) • Metropolitan Council • Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) • Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) • Minnesota Housing • Neighborhood Development Center • Ramsey County • Summit Academy OIC • The Saint Paul Foundation • Twin Cities Community Land Bank • University of Minnesota • Urban Land Institute of Minnesota • The Community Engagement Team, led by Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Minnesota Center for Neighborhood Organizing and Nexus Community Partners 

The policy board is led by Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh and McKnight Foundation Region and Communities Program Director Lee Sheehy.