Minneapolis City Council
‘Northeast is urban renewal success story’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 27, 2017
By Steve Share, editor, Minneapolis Labor Review
MINNEAPOLIS — “Northeast is a great urban renewal success story,” says Kevin Reich. “It’s kind of a fun, vibrant place to do things.”
Reich is running for a third term to represent Ward 1, northeast Minneapolis, on the Minneapolis city council.
Reich is endorsed by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
Other union endorsements: Firefighters Local 82, IATSE Local 490, Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, Operating Engineers Local 49, SEIU Minnesota State Council, Teamsters Joint Council 32, UNITE HERE Local 17.
‘It’s really on the shoulders of the city to prove this is a place where things can get done.’
Reich is a graduate of Edison High and St. Olaf College, a former project director for Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association, and a founding board member of the now-thriving Eastside Food Co-op.
Reich chairs the city council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee, which oversees the city’s public infrastructure. He says of the workers in the Public Works department, who maintain streets and sewers and more: “They make the city work. They literally make it work… It’s been my distinct honor to represent this incredible department.”
Reich celebrates the historic 2016 deal between City Council and Park Board which is making a $800 million investment over 20 years in city infrastructure, including roads and parks. “We definitely laid a brand-new generational commitment to our infrastructure.”
The program will bring not just infrastructure improvements but also jobs — and Reich cites efforts by Public Works and Laborers Local 363 to recruit in city high schools and develop on-the-job training to make those jobs more accessible to all. “We’ve really created a great gateway for our community,” he says.
Specific to northeast, Reich points to several transportation initiatives including increasing bus frequency and expanding commuter bike lanes from zero miles to 18 miles. “The only (bicycle) routes we had before were the Grand Rounds. “We were a big hole in the overall city (bicycle) network and now we’re very much connected to it.”
Reich also cites efforts to support manufacturing jobs in the city and in Ward 1. “In northeast, in particular, we’ve had an incredible economic resurgence — it’s centered on people making things.” Northeast, he notes, now includes the state’s highest concentration of breweries and a thriving arts district.
Over the years, he observes, industrial land use in the city has fallen from 25 percent of land area to only 5 percent. “This was a city that made stuff — we still are but it’s much more concentrated… If we lose much more, we will not be a working city.”
Central Avenue’s renaissance as place where immigrant entrepreneurs are prospering is proving the American dream, Reich says. As he looks to a third term, “Lowry Avenue needs to be the next great northeast street,” he says, “I’m motivated to not lose a step.”
“We don’t want to be a victim of our success,” Reich comments. He notes success in developing hundreds of units of affordable housing in northeast.
With stalemate in Washington, D.C. and the state capitol, “it’s really on the shoulders of the city to prove this is a place where things can get done,” Reich says.