The horse trading at the Legislature and the Governor’s office should include three things that mean growth and opportunity for our community. Our legislative delegations should support the Vikings Stadium Bill to support the development of our community and our future.
Recently, Minnesota has required 32% workforce hiring requirements of women and minorities on state-funded projects. Since the Vikings are seeking public funds to build the $1 billion project it must meet the 32% requirement. And with our community’s endorsement and support, Vikings developers could conceivably far exceed that workforce goal and associated Women and Minority-owned Business Enterprise (WMBE) goals.
Secondly, Minneapolis Public Schools new District headquarters on West Broadway, scheduled to open this summer, demonstrates that where there is a mandate and will, participation goals can be met and exceeded. The MPS reported that over 50% of the work done on the $30 million project went to women and minority workers, and over 40% went to women and minority-owned businesses.
That suggests a Vikings project could do the same, far exceeding the excellent participation rates experienced by Twins Baseball showplace, Target Field, which came in at about 25% WMBE and workforce participation.
Taken together, workforce and business contract commitments could mean we are getting our fair share.
Eight members of Minneapolis City Council are calling for setting aside $1 million a year for 30 years from Vikings Stadium funding sources, to support training and access to workforce opportunity, an initiative proposed by HIRE MN and supported by Summit Academy and Minneapolis Urban League, two legacy workforce developers serving our community.
Their proposal creates an ongoing and credible response to what Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak called “morally unacceptable disparity” in job opportunity experienced by communities of color.
Thirdly, the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) is calling for support for a proposed amendment to the Vikings funding bill by Rep. Nora Slawik that would link passage of the bill to support for allocating funds investing in the future workforce by supporting early childhood education. The AALF report, “A Crisis in Our Community Closing the Five Education Gaps,” documents the need to close the achievement gap from pre school – 12th grade. According to the report, “The gap for African American children starts even before they get to kindergarten and persists throughout their educational experience. According to the 2007 Minneapolis Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, African American children entered kindergarten 40 percentage points behind White students.
The 2010 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) testing data showed that, at every critical benchmark, from 3rd grade through 11th grade, African American students were consistently between 20-30 percentage points behind the overall statewide standard in reading, math, and science.”
Slawik’s proposal is pegged to the expectation that the financing mechanism chosen to pay debt service on stadium bonds would be designed to generate enough excess revenue to keep interest rates as low as possible. In the case of Target Field's 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County, enough has been collected above and beyond debt service needs to allot $2 million per year in recent years to Hennepin County Libraries. The 2006 Target Field legislation included that earmark for the excess at the urging of Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.