When I started my first technology firm Govdelivery in a Saint Paul basement in 2000, it felt lonely starting up in the Twin Cities. A lot has changed since 2000, and as we approach the ribbon cutting in downtown Saint Paul for my new company Structural, I’m thrilled to report that the energy and community all around us creates a sense of optimism that is helping us recruit great people, connect with clients, and
The momentum in downtown Saint Paul did not happen by accident. Back in 2016, Ecolab CEO Doug Baker hosted and encouraged a series of conversations about how downtown leaders and employers could take a more active role in building on (and accelerating) the momentum in our downtown. Doug and others saw that downtown had achieved some significant wins in the past decade while also recognizing that we had an opportunity to do even better.
A lot has been accomplished since these initial conversations. As a downtown community, we have:
- Created the Downtown Alliance
- Brought additional resources to the Saint Paul chamber focused on business development
- Supported the hiring of a jobs-focused staff member in the city’s Planning and Economic Development Department
- Created space for conversations that brought new development energy into downtown, leading to the conversion of the former Ecolab Headquarters to Osborn370
- Launched the Full Stack Saint Paul initiative and a specific target for innovation jobs in downtown
- Supported the recruitment of Techstars Farm to Fork (in partnership with Ecolab and Cargill)
- Secured Knight funding to launch Lunar Startups under APM’s new innovation center
- Brought together foundations, large employers, entrepreneurs, the public sector, the arts community, and nonprofits in stunningly collaborative ways
Bottom line: While I’m not tracking the numbers officially, there are already at least 200 more innovation jobs in downtown than when this work started, and we are gaining momentum daily.
So much of this is has been enabled by the leadership from Ecolab and Doug. It is one thing to convene, and quite another to deliver so impressively and invest millions back into our community. That leadership continues to inspire me and so many others to invest in our wonderful downtown and its future. I’m excited for what’s next.