Capital City Partnership Disbands; Leader Joins Greater MSP

The 15-year-old organization will cease operations at the end of this year; its executive director, Joel Akason, will become a full-time employee of recently formed regional economic development organization Greater MSP.

Capital City Partnership, a nonprofit economic development organization in St. Paul, on Monday announced plans to cease operations, and its current leader will join a recently formed organization that aims to attract jobs and develop a brand for the Twin Cities region.

Capital City Partnership was formed in 1996 by former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman and Doug Leatherdale, former CEO of Saint Paul Companies (now Travelers). The organization will continue operations through the end of this year. On January 1, its executive director, Joel Akason, will join Greater MSP-a regional economic development organization-as a full-time employee of the group's business investment team.

Akason said in a statement that Capital City Partnership has been collaborating with Greater MSP this year, and the regional organization offers St. Paul “high quality business retention, expansion, and attraction services in accordance with the regional economic-development best practices.”

The Itasca Project-a conglomeration of about 60 CEOs from across the state, public-sector officials, and leaders from area foundations-conducted research that indicated that the Twin Cities lack a centralized regional structure for developing a brand for the area. The group unveiled plans in September 2010 to fundraise for Greater MSP.

Greater MSP will host an official launch party on October 11. (Tunheim Partners' Kathy Tunheim recently told Twin Cities Business that it's a “by-invitation” event, but “anybody who is interested in economic development . . . ought to be reaching out to Greater MSP and seeking an invite.”)

Greater MSP spokesman Drew Henry said in a Tuesday phone interview that the launch party will mark the first public unveiling of the group's economic development and regional marketing strategies.

He said that Capital City Partnership is the first organization to disband and integrate itself into Greater MSP, but his group has been in discussions with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), local chambers of commerce, and other entities regarding more informal collaborations.

Akason is the latest addition to the Greater MSP team. The group announced in March its selection of Michael Langley as CEO and said in June that it had hired Gene Goddard, who previously spent two decades with DEED. Henry said that Greater MSP earlier this month hired David Griggs, who formerly oversaw economic development initiatives in Buffalo, New York, to serve as vice president of business investment.