• Fourth Economy

Celebrating Economic Inclusion in Ramsey County, Minnesota

Accepting the award at IEDC. From left to right: Rich Overmoyer (Fourth Economy), Kari Collins (Ramsey County Department of Community and Economic Development), D'Angelos Svenkeson (Neoo Partners), De’Vonna L. Pittman (Center for Economic Inclusion), Tawanna A. Black (Center for Economic Inclusion), Trista MatasCastillo (Ramsey County Commissioner, District 3), Denetrick Powers (Neoo Partners)

The residents of Ramsey County, Minnesota – which includes the city of St. Paul – are the most diverse of any county in the state, representing a multitude of cultures and heritages. Between 2019 and 2021, Fourth Economy worked with the Ramsey County Department of Community and Economic Development on its Economic Competitiveness and Inclusion (ECI) Plan. The ECI plan is guided by a comprehensive economic development strategy, centered on equitable growth and strengthening economic competitiveness. This strategy prioritizes inclusion in future investments and other actions related to housing, job creation, workforce development, and place-based investments while responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Fourth Economy led the planning effort and coordination with other partnering firms including:

Yesterday, Ramsey County’s ECI plan won an Excellence in Economic Development Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council.

Leeya Jackson

To celebrate, we caught up with five plan stakeholders to hear about the plan’s impact since its launch. Channon Lemon is the Vice President of Economic Development for the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, and represented the local business community and their needs, as did Amanda Taylor, the Vice President of Research & Intelligence for Greater MSP. Tawanna Black, Founder, and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion advocated equitable and dynamic strategies for bringing new opportunities to all residents of Ramsey County, especially those historically left out of economic development plans. As Executive Director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, Anne Mavity contributed expertise on housing availability and affordability. Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo serves on the Ramsey County Board, representing residents of District 3.

Fourth Economy: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you are involved with Ramsey County’s Economic Competitiveness and Inclusion Plan?

  • Channon Lemon: I have been a part of the planning process and continue to join monthly meetings to discuss regional economic development. To me, the Ramsey County plan has really been a beacon because it is one of the first roadmaps that show how you can take economic vibrancy and inclusion and make them both priorities – not an either-or. In the midst of everything we’re going through with the pandemic and economic disparities, having a road map is really important.

  • Anne Mavity: I’ve worked to provide direct technical assistance to rural communities and native nations, driving policy and investments. I’ve also advocated at the state level with research – helping to inform, drive, and shape policy solutions. For the plan, we wanted to make sure that community leaders and policymakers have a good framework and solid information on which to base their investments. That way, they could accomplish their mission and the county’s mission as well.

  • Tawanna Black: Ramsey County asked us to engage around housing strategy and community engagement, and to serve as an advisor for the implementation of the housing strategy – to ensure Ramsey County is able to bring the plan to life. Our organization is the first of its kind in the country. Our work is to ensure that all voices are heard throughout the planning process and implementation and that we hold the organizations we work with accountable through the impl