Messages from the Council Chair

The State of the Twin Cities Region

March 2024

On Friday, March 22, 2024, Metropolitan Council Chair Charlie Zelle delivered the 2024 State of the Region Address at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Here are some highlights of that speech.

Chair Zelle speaking at a podium.The Twin Cities Region

With a population of more than three million, the 7-county region comprises more than 181 cities and townships, and is home to more than 300 languages, more than 1,000 lakes, and 56,000 acres of regional parks and trails open for public use.

Imagine 2050

The Met Council exists to help manage the growth in this region in a way that is collaborative and methodical, because no one community can do this alone.

Our vision is called “Imagine 2050.” Our next regional development guide, which happens every 10 years, is being developed as we speak to create and sustain a prosperous, equitable, and resilient region with abundant opportunities for all to live, work, and thrive.

This regional development guide will lay out the region’s values and vision for 2050 and the goals needed to achieve it, given the region’s existing conditions and emerging trends.

Imagine 2050’s guiding principles

Accountability - At the Met Council, we know we must be effective in our work and achieve measurable outcomes. While our region is known for its research, initiatives, and collaborations, we must be open to criticism and clearly understand when we are not achieving results.

Equity - Our region is economically and culturally vibrant. However, we also recognize the disparities and injustices that are fueled by racism. We are dedicated to creating systems, policies, and programs that repair and heal past harm, and foster an equitable future.

Leadership - We value those, like all of you in this room, who inspire and motivate others for positive change. Our region is known for its civic engagement across sectors. We need that broad and inclusive leadership to help confront the significant challenges we face around equity, climate change, safety, and other pressing issues.

Transportation - Our transportation system needs to work for everyone, connecting people to jobs, school, appointments, everyday needs, and social occasions. We now have long-term funding to ensure we build and maintain a transit system that will serve generations to come. Thank you to all the lawmakers, transit advocates, trades, environmental groups, and the others who worked so hard for increased investment in transit last year.

Housing - Residents in our region need homes they can afford and it’s no secret the housing market is less affordable than a decade ago. That’s why the Met Council recognizes an “all of the above” approach. Build more homes through the Livable Communities Program and partnerships with Minnesota Housing. Utilize state and federal funding to create more affordable housing opportunities. And support housing choice through our distribution of housing choice vouchers and our new affordable homeownership program.

Parks - This year our regional parks and trails system turns 50. We want to thank the legislature who created the regional parks system in 1974 and our regional park partners who own and operate the system. Together, we have been able to develop this world-class system that contributes so much to our region's high quality of life for all our residents.

Water - On its surface, some may think wastewater is probably the least exciting part of the Met Council’s role in driving collaboration for our region’s future prosperity. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Thanks to tough water system planning decisions made in the past with broad collaboration, our region is benefitting not only from thoughtful growth, but in ways we couldn’t have predicted. When it comes to water, we are ahead of the curve and viewed as a national role model.

Stewardship - We value our region’s resources, which include natural, human, economic, and infrastructure. We must design our systems, no matter how complicated, and allocate resources in ways that are sustainable and support the needs of future generations.

No one community can do it alone

At the end of the day, the work we do may not seem very glamorous. It’s complex, and necessary, and the Met Council was formed for these very reasons. A community of collaboration setting out to find solutions — together — to make this metro area the best it can be. No one community can do it alone.

Read Chair Zelle's full State of the Region address

Charlie Zelle is Chair of the Metropolitan Council.