To hear the outgoing mayor of Minneapolis tell it, Minnesota's greatest challenge is also its greatest opportunity.
The challenge comes from the achievement gap, which Rybak will be addressing in his new job as executive director of Generation Next. The opportunity lies in the economic strength that bridging the gap could create.
"We have a generation that's going to move us dramatically forward, because of who they are, not in spite of who they are," said R.T. Rybak on a visit to The Daily Circuit. "We need people who cross cultural barriers, and they do it every day. A kid of color in this community grows up bilingual, culturally, because they're got to figure out how to walk into rooms of people different from them. That's the most important thing that you can get in business these days."
Close observers of the state's economic and demographic trends suggest that Rybak is asking the right questions. Minnesota's population and the Minnesota economy are both going through some big changes.
The state's population of people of color has increased more than 60 percent in the past dozen years. And although the overall poverty rate is dropping, rates of poverty among racial minorities remain disturbingly high.
How do Minnesota's demographic trends affect the state's economy? And how are those trends likely to shape Minnesota's future?
Those questions were discussed recently at a Policy and a Pint event sponsored by The Current and the Citizens League. The Daily Circuit revisits the conversation in the studio.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MINNESOTA'S ECONOMY AND PEOPLE:
Minnesota's economy needs the boost immigration provides
Last week, the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition and the state Chamber of Commerce released a study that documents why any state investments in immigrants bring multiple returns. It wisely calls immigrants important "capital'' because they provide the state with labor, new businesses, culture, consumers and connections to global markets. (Editorial, Star Tribune)
'Immigrant suburbs' emerge in latest census sweep
The suburbanization of immigrants results from a "combination of things," said Jane Tigan, a research associate with Minnesota Compass, a unit of Wilder Research that puts demographic data online at www.mncompass.org.
"As immigrants have been here longer, they're more likely to work and be more stable economically, and have the ability to move to the suburbs if desired," she said. "Some suburbs are changing, too, with prices that are not prohibitive, that are affordable for many." (David Peterson, writing in the Star Tribune)