The Itasca Project and Greater MSP, two venerable economic development organizations located in the Twin Cities, have declared a formal merger.
Greater MSP, also known as the Minneapolis St. Paul Economic Development Partnership, retains a core workforce of roughly 18 managers and directors in offices in the Securian Financial building on Robert Street in downtown St. Paul, in addition to some administrative support personnel. The group promotes the area to potential employers while emphasizing the work of regional start-ups. Its 300 dues-paying member firms, colleges, towns, counties, and charitable organizations are represented by the organization.
A group of at least 70 cross-sector corporate executives came together to address long-term regional concerns through research and calls to action as part of the volunteer-driven Itasca Project, which was founded in 2004. At least two salaried employees of Itasca, which collaborates closely with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., will join Greater MSP.
Don Ball, the director of communications for Greater MSP, stated in a brief interview that “We’re incorporating Itasca into Greater MSP, and this will live on as a platform within our organization.” “The Itasca Project formed Greater MSP, so this is sort of bringing the family back together. We want to allow it continue to function as it now does while expanding its scope and influence.
Itasca leadership will keep meeting and “affect the spirit and substance of its activity,” according to Ball.
The two groups stated in a joint written statement that a joint task committee had proposed the unification following several months of debate. “Now is the time for two successful entities focused on regional economic health and competitiveness to come together and leverage their unique strengths for the greater good of our community and the lives of our neighbors,” task force member John Naylor, president and chief executive officer of Medica, a health insurance company with headquarters in Minnetonka, said in the statement.
The statement continues, “its work will increase as a consequence of new ties to additional leaders and organizations, as well as the operational support available inside Greater MSP.” The Itasca Project brand will continue to exist, it is said.
Itasca has over the years supported innovative research on the relationship between a stable workforce and early childhood development, as well as initiatives for public transportation, affordable housing, and economic growth. Itasca’s research on employment growth during the Great Recession in 2008 was one of those studies, and three years later Greater MSP was established as a result.
The Regional Economic Indicators Dashboard, which compares metro areas’ economic development to that of peer regions, and Business Bridge, an accelerator aimed at diversifying suppliers to include underrepresented groups, are recent examples of the two institutions’ joint efforts. ConnextMSP, a different partnership that began with 40 partners, focuses on finding and hiring young professionals of color and aiding companies in developing and keeping them.
According to a written statement from Lynn Casey, the chair of the Itasca Project and the former CEO of the Minneapolis-based public relations company Padilla, “both Itasca and Greater MSP share a culture of civic involvement to address huge issues.”
Itasca’s work “is entirely aligned with the objective of our partnership, which is to promote regional competitiveness and inclusive economic growth,” said Greater MSP President and CEO Peter Frosch, adding that the merger will further that mission.