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Our Voice: Kate Wolford: Comments at HUD Sustainable Communities visit

April 22, 2010 - McKnight president Kate Wolford was one of several speakers kicking off a visit of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Sustainable Communities Initiative to the Twin Cities.

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On April 8, the Twin Cities hosted a tour for HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims and a team of federal officials. The visit highlighted opportunities the Central Corridor presents for the Administration to demonstrate its new sustainable communities principles. Within this, McKnight’s role organizing and partnering with the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative has been instrumental to align the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, and maximize the economic benefits of the corridor, especially for low-income families.



Good Morning. The McKnight Foundation's investments provide living case studies of livability principles in action. Throughout the Twin Cities region, we work with over 100 grantees, elected officials, and private-sector partners to get double and triple bottom line wins for our region's residents through strategies connecting housing, transportation, open space, neighborhood development, energy efficiency. Creating opportunities to increase prosperity among low-income people.

Placed based efforts to build more livable communities. This isn't a theory for us — it's how we work here. We have lots of smart and pragmatic leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. We have learned how to work together to get the job done. McKnight and other private foundations make sure the lessons learned about planning and implementation here on Lake Street and on the Hiawatha rail corridor are carried forward to the Central Corridor and beyond.

We are particularly excited about the partnership of 12 local, regional, and national foundations in the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Long before the first rivet is pounded into place, the Funders Collaborative has already developed strategic investment plan and mobilized a $5.2 million catalyst fund. Jonathan Sage-Martinson, executive director of the Collaborative, will be on the bus tour. He can share examples of our investments to ensure the best outcomes for everyone working and living along the corridor. A great example of our "can do" ability is this: within two weeks after DOT announced a change in the federal cost formula, the Collaborative joined with public officials to provide the local match to build out three additional stations on the Central Corridor. These stations were a high priority of the surrounding neighborhoods.

By providing venture and patient capital, philanthropy can help ensure that larger public investments support vibrant transit-oriented development that embodies the principles of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Since the Hiawatha line was built, communities have moved from "wait and see" to "when will my line be built?" With a stronger transit-oriented approach that integrates housing, energy and economic development on the Central Corridor, we can build more momentum to accelerate the build out the SW line, the Bottineau line, and each of the 13 planned lines of a robust regional transit system.

Building more sustainable communities is complex work. But in the Twin Cities, you're joined by partners who believe in strong outcome measurement systems, partners who can help you meet your ambitious goals.


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Sustainable Communities Initiative at