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Green Line corridor boosters see economic development progress

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A coalition of foundations that rallied around the Green Line light rail project is releasing a report Wednesday showing progress on its goals of helping small businesses and maintaining affordable housing in the corridor.

But the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative says there's still work to be done.

When the group surveyed its partners to see if they felt the right kinds of policies were in place to keep the corridor an affordable place to live and shop, the results were mixed, said Director Jonathan Sage-Martinson. The least consensus was found around job and workforce development.

"That's one of the places that we as a community still need to make sure spend some time, even as the light rail gets running," he said.

The organization is also wary of the rise in the cost of living across the metropolitan area, and how that could affect the Green Line corridor.

Rents have risen by 24 percent over two years from 2011 in part because new, more expensive housing is being built in downtown Minneapolis and near the University of Minnesota, Sage-Martinson said.

"It's not necessarily a bad thing. What's important is that we make sure people of all income levels can continue can live near the corridor and to the extent some of the newer units are charging additional rent doesn't necessarily displace existing residents," he said.

Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, which is made up of about a dozen local and national funders, has contributed nearly $9 million to Central Corridor initiatives. 

The Green Line is scheduled to open June 14.