18 DECEMBER 2011
By DR. BRUCE CORRIE
Dear Chair Rep. Kiffmeyer and Vice Chair Sen. Bonoff, Sunset Advisory Commission:
I request you not to sunset the four councils (Chicano Latino Affairs Council, Indian Affairs Council, Council on Black Minnesotans and Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans) but rather equip them to be more effective to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the changing demographics of Minnesota. Minnesota is fortunate to have these institutions. Unfortunately they have not been used very effectively.
I am part of OneMN.org, a nonpartisan multiethnic coalition. As an economist, I have over the past decade, provided data and analysis on the economic potential of the ALANA (African Latino Asian and Native American) communities in Minnesota.
The attached map provides an illustration on the ethnic economies all across Minnesota. These economies are new engines of economic growth in Minnesota with a consumer power of over $12 billion. Businesses in these communities are started at a higher rate than the state average and as a group in terms of revenue would be the 15 largest business in Minnesota. As a group these businesses would be the 9thlargest employer in Minnesota. Children from these communities make up the human capital of Minnesota in 2030. These communities are tied to global trade networks that could bring investment and jobs to Minnesota as is currently happening in many parts of Minnesota.
If equipped with the right set of structure and tools these 4 councils can be an effective mechanism for the state to be connected to these ethnic communities. For this to happen there needs to be changes happening at different levels:
- The Council’s Executive Directors should be part of the senior policy advisory staff of the Governor, Legislature and Judiciary. Council liaisons should be part of the senior policy staff of all state departments.
- The Councils should be funded to develop capacity to provide policy advice on effective strategies to integrate the needs of these communities into mainstream policies and programs and on the impact of new policy proposals on these communities.
- The Councils should be funded to develop mechanisms to educate their constituents on new government policies and programs
- The Councils should produce annual reports analyzing progress made by the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches in integrating the needs of these communities in mainstream policies and programs and analysis of unique issues, challenges and opportunities facing these communities.
- The University of Minnesota and the MNSCU system should be directed to help the councils with technical assistance and expertise in addressing community issues and policy analysis.
- The Councils should maintain a data base of professional talent and expertise in the respective communities and provide these list to policy makers and institutions to be included in advisory boards, expert panels and content experts.
- The Councils shall maintain a current list of businesses, nonprofit organizations, and community groups in each community and make these lists available to the public.
- The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government should effectively utilize the resources of the Councils in their policies and programs.
- The Councils should have a strong rural presence and enable the ALANA communities to be integrated into rural policies, institutions and programs.
- The members of the Council should have an established track record of deep knowledge and relationships within their communities or be content experts in emerging issues important to those communities. They should be willing to actively interact with the community in order to best represent the interests of the community. They should be appointed in a non-partisan manner.
- The Councils will follow standard business practices of a government agency with appropriate accountability structures in place. Proper training should be given to staff and board on these governmental policies and procedures.
- The 4 Councils can be an effective mechanism to help make Minnesota a world class Global Competitor.
I thank you for your consideration.
Bruce Corrie Ph.D.
Dena, College of Business and Organizational Leadership
Concordia University, St. Paul