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Regional Competitiveness And The Itasca Project

Tuesday I attended the Carlson School of Management's First Tuesday Luncheon Series at the University if Minnesota.


Jim Campbell, Interim Dean of the Carlson School of Management, spoke about "Advancing a Regional Civic Agenda through Business Leadership".


Besides Interim Dean, Jim is the Chairman of the Itasca Project and former Chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo.


The Itasca Project is a group of 40+ community leaders including CEOs, the Governor of Minnesota, the Mayors of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and the president of the University of Minnesota, who provide leadership for long-term regional development and competitiveness to the metropolitan area.

The goals of the Itasca Project include building a stronger University-business partnership, advancing a comprehensive transportation plan, retaining and growing leading employers, improving early childhood development, addressing socio-economic disparities and supporting the growth of small businesses and clusters.


Notes on the Itasca Project:

-An idea was formed to create a group of leaders six years ago after then Dean Kidwell gave a presentation on regional competitiveness.

-There were so many ideas, issues, and people involved that it became hard to coordinate.

-A few people continued conversations and in September of 2003 the consulting firm McKinsey brought some people to a meeting. This was the beginning of the Itasca Project.

-Three themes of how the group operates: Getting stuff done; CEO’s must be actively engaged (No staff); collaboration is a key and partnerships are made with other groups and thought leaders.

-A similar organization exists in Boston.

-Itasca is trying to help regional leaders. To gather information.

-McKinsey has donated the staff time needed.

-The focus of the Itasca Project is on the Twin Cities. As the cities go, so goes the state.


General notes:

-Other cities are looking to the Twin Cities to see how groups like the Itasca Project work.

-The STEP-UP Summer Jobs Program had 117 students involved in 2005. So far for this summer 200+ have been accepted with more applicants to be interviewed.

-Transportation. Itasca Project believes $750 million a yeas is needed every year for the next 15 years to meet current and future needs including roads, bridges, rail, etc.


One of the last comments Jim made was that unlike in the “old days” CEO’s today are leading publicly held corporations that are global. They are worrying as much about South America as they are South Minneapolis.


To this point I found this link to MPR in 2004, CEOs enlist in civic 'renaissance'. It talks quite a bit about the time needed to address regional issues and the pressures CEO’s face now that were not around 50 years ago.


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