Metropolitan Council staff and leaders are working with U of M researchers to better understand industry clusters and how local planning decisions and regional infrastructure investments can encourage private investment.
The Council’s Committee of the Whole recently invited Lee Munnich, director of the State and Local Policy Program (SLPP) at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Humphrey School associate professor Yingling Fan to present and discuss their research on industry clustering.
Industry clusters are geographically concentrated groups of interconnected companies, universities, and related institutions. As a critical mass, clusters promote efficiencies that individual businesses or industries cannot, and they tend to have a large economic impact on a region.
SLPP researchers have conducted several studies of industry clusters in Minnesota. One, completed in 2014, revealed that some important new clusters—water technology, robotics, 3D printing, and biorenewables—are emerging in the greater Minneapolis–St. Paul region from existing competitive clusters. “These are industries to watch, and they may be areas where we need to spend more time in the future,” Munnich advises.
Munnich is also the director of the U’s Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness (TPEC) Program. Industry clustering is one of TPEC’s three main research areas; the program hosted a two-day forum about industry clusters in September 2014.
Fan mapped Twin Cities industry clusters as part of a study that explored how to maximize the impact of current and future transitway investments. Her team found significant variation in the size and location of clusters, as well as variation in how well these clusters are served by the current transit system. The research team then developed and analyzed alternative land-development strategies and identified the most promising development solutions.
- Read a Met Council blog post about the researchers’ presentation: “Planning land use and infrastructure to support industry clusters”
- Read more about industry clusters research in CTS Catalyst:
- Visit the Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness (TPEC) Program website
- Read a summary of the 2014 TPEC Forum: Mapping the Midwest’s Future: Regional Innovation Clusters and Competitiveness (PDF)
- Visit the maximizing the return on transitway investment project page or read the research summary (PDF)