Leaning Into Our Thirties
How do you set 10-year goals that feel innovative and ambitious, yet achievable? I was thinking about this one recent summer day as I walked past empty storefronts and cavernous lobbies of office towers where security guards outnumbered workers, on my way to a kickoff event for the Minneapolis Downtown Council’s 2035 planning process. It’s daunting to dream up transformative long-range goals for downtown—or any complex issue—at a time when the immediate challenges seem so numerous.
A look back at the Downtown Council’s 2025 plan provides some reassurance. Increase downtown’s residential population: Check. Build a new Vikings stadium: Check. Create a park/plaza at 5th and Nicollet: Check again (thank you, RBC Gateway!). The 2025 plan also includes ideals unrealized (ending homelessness; transforming Nicollet into a “must-see destination”), but overall, that working document reflects more progress than disappointment—despite a global pandemic and massive shift in work habits.
At Twin Cities Business, we’re thinking a lot about accomplishments and goals as this issue marks a milestone: our 30th anniversary. When the magazine debuted in September 1993 with a cover story on Dave Winfield’s off-the-field business success, its tone and mission was something of a revelation: a local news source that held business to be “interesting and important,” Jay Novak wrote in his inaugural Editor’s Note. The anti-business bias that was more common 30 years ago has morphed into a celebration of the entrepreneurs among us and big expectations that companies will take a stand on cultural issues, invest in solutions to societal challenges, and prioritize employee welfare beyond the office, from inclusivity to mental health.
Today, there’s a podcast, a Netflix documentary, a Shark Tank-style competition for every aspect of business motivation and reflection. At TCB, we believe in our original mission now more than ever. We remain committed to providing a platform—now multimedia—for connection, voices, and exploration of ideas that hit close to home, whether that’s the future of suburban corporate campuses for the new era of work or questioning the lack of progress on rebooting an important commercial district like Uptown.
In thinking about the opportunities ahead, we reached out to 30 respected leaders and asked them what they see as priorities for the next 30 years.
“The only thing I can say with certainty is, I’ll be dead,” quipped TCB’s original publisher Burt Cohen when I posed the question over lunch at the Minneapolis Club. “I do wonder,” he continued, “what’s going to happen to the pile of debris on my dresser—the notes, the items of miscellany? As to other problems facing the world? People smarter than me will figure it out.”
All kidding aside, Cohen is legendary for his belief in the power of community, from networking (he’s still doing it!) to serving on boards and supporting cultural institutions. That same spirit stood out in the words of wisdom from other executives: a focus on place, on community engagement. The need for founders and executives to be good neighbors and lend their time and expertise to the overall improvement of our cities, recognizing that quality of life and work go hand in hand.
Lynn Casey, one of our 2023 Outstanding Directors credits Cohen’s encouragement to get involved back when she was CEO of Padilla. She could easily have filled every minute on that work, but she made the commitment to lend her voice and expertise to wide-ranging initiatives, like the Itasca Project civic alliance, and the Downtown Council’s 2025 plan. I bumped into Casey at that kickoff meeting for the 2035 plan, because though she may have retired, she hasn’t stopped giving back.
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Her observations on the occasion of TCB’s 30th really resonated with that philosophy. “Take the opportunity—any chance you get—to make sure people who aren’t in the business world understand the importance, really the necessity, of a state having a very healthy business climate. If we can count on next-gen leaders to be actively engaged as their forerunners were, I have no doubt the state’s best days are ahead.”
TCB is here for it. Thank you for your continued engagement and enthusiasm.