In his first State of the Region address, Chair Duininck emphasizes collaboration, engagement and regionalism
In his first State of the Region address Thursday, Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck focused on partnerships as the “key to regional prosperity.”
“My strong passion and belief in regionalism is one of the reasons I am standing here today. I know that planning, operating, and working together at a regional level is needed now more than ever. With so many significant challenges, I believe that we will only move our region forward if we continue to work in collaboration, to authentically engage, and to develop new partnerships with regionalism guiding our decisions.”
Duininck, who just passed his one-year mark as the Council’s first full-time chair, reflected on his travels throughout the region, saying his number one priority continues to be building relationships.
In his speech, Duininck highlighted three forms of partnerships that drive the Council’s work:
Collaboration. On issues like solar energy and sustainability, the Council can be good stewards of public resources, including taxpayer dollars and natural resources. Being one of many stakeholders on a given issue means many bright minds working cooperatively “to realize cost savings, energy efficiencies, and having a shared self-interest.”
Engagement. The Council approaches planning and affordable housing through engagement with local communities and families. Duininck said by providing resources and support, as well as listening to our partners, we allow communities and families to determine for themselves what is best.
Regionalism. Duininck shared a piece of advice he received from a local leader in Seattle, who said to keep investing in the region’s parks and open spaces, one of the region’s greatest assets. Duininck said partnering to address issues that cross city boundaries and county lines help us compete as a region.
Duininck delivered his speech before hundreds of local elected leaders, residents and advocates at the Ames Center in Burnsville. The site is the final stop on the proposed METRO Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which would travel from Minneapolis, through Bloomington and Richfield, to Burnsville.
He also announced that the region’s first arterial BRT line – the A Line, traveling along Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway – will open on June 11, 2016.
Duininck said despite our strengths, our region’s disparities between white people and people of color are not only immoral, but detriments for the region.
“Racial disparities in this region are not only shameful and unacceptable,” said Duininck. “They hold us back and threaten the vision we all have for this region.”
Duininck cited work at the Council to create a more diverse workforce, one that better reflects the communities the Council serves. He said authentic outreach will allow more residents to be part of decision-making. One avenue for that outreach is through the creation of a new advisory committee to the Council on equity, which more than 100 people applied to serve on.
Perhaps the Council’s greatest tool for building equity is transit, said Duininck. He cited a continuing study at Harvard which found that commuting time has emerged as the single strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty.
“If we are serious about having an impact on disparities in the region, we must look at the impacts of transit and transportation investments.”
Duininck emphasized that while there are many individual transit projects underway – Southwest LRT, Orange Line BRT, Blue Line Extension (Bottineau) LRT, A Line BRT, Gold Line BRT – the value of transit lies in building a network that benefits the entire region.
“To compete as a region, we need a robust transit system. One that accommodates the anticipated future growth, makes efficient use of our infrastructure, gives people transportation options, and connects more of our region directly to jobs and opportunity.”
Duininck ended his speech by highlighting the need to pass a comprehensive and bipartisan transportation bill at the State Legislature this year to enhance and expand the metro area transit system.
“A plan for funding a regional transit system includes new shelters, many with heat and light. It includes investments for 47 new bus lines and 76 expanded lines. It includes more frequent service and less wait times for 1 million riders.
“An investment in the network is an investment in our region.”