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Friday, March 6, 2015

An Inside Look at World-Class Innovation: 2015 Ford Site Study Tour

By Mayor Chris Coleman

Almost one hundred years ago, Henry Ford stood on 130 acres overlooking the Mississippi River in Saint Paul and saw a world of potential. Today, we as a city stand in that same place, but with a much different vision. As Mayor and lifelong resident of Saint Paul, it is both my duty and my desire to engage our community and lay a strong foundation for this once-in-a-lifetime development opportunity for our region.

I am deeply grateful for the large number of Saint Paul residents, business owners, artists and activists who have come out in droves to each community meeting, providing input and helping to shape our vision for the Ford site thus far. In just the past year, we have honed in on key principles and areas of focus for that vision: housing variety, jobs and tax base, energy and sustainability, varied transportation options, parks and amenities, and mixed uses and activities. 

Next, we must engage in the hard work of ensuring that our aspirations around transportation, sustainability and quality of life can become market realities. To do so, a group of Saint Paul leaders and I are embarking on a trip to Berlin, Copenhagen, Malmo and Stockholm to look beyond the borders of Saint Paul and into cutting edge, urban developments across Europe – places that have figured out how to implement big ideas. 

                                                 Aerial View of Copenhagen

Business representatives from the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater MSP and the Saint Paul Port Authority will explore how job creation factored into successful mixed-use sites such as Adlershof Science and Technology Park, a 1,000 acre site that’s home to 450 companies and sustains 15,000 jobs. 

 Aldershof Science and Technology Park

Leaders from Xcel Energy and Saint Paul District Energy will speak with their counterparts about cutting-edge sustainability practices at places like Feldheim, a site that is completely self-sufficient when it comes to energy.

City and County leaders, along with representatives from Ford, will see what accessible green space, varied housing and public transportation can look like in Malmo, where no residence exists more than ¼ of a mile from a bus stop. And all along the way, members of our partner organizations such as the Saint Paul and McKnight Foundations will be inspired by how each site evokes culture and community. 

                                    The Bo01 City of Tomorrow in Malmo, Sweden

The importance of this trip cannot be overstated. As we get closer to the “For Sale” sign going up on the historic Ford site, one thing has become increasingly clear: just as it is necessary for us to learn from each other about what we aspire to as a community, it is equally necessary that we learn from those who have made their vision come to life – and build upon the work they’ve already done.  

As we move ever closer to placing this site on the market, we must continue to engage locally. I ask that each and every one of you whose lives are intertwined with the future of Saint Paul get involved. Follow the hashtag #FordSiteFuture on social media to get updates from our trip. Attend one of the monthly community meetings we have planned through the next six months, sign up for the newsletter and engage in content and updates on the project website, Make your voice heard as we go forth with one of the most exciting, impactful opportunities in Saint Paul. 

If done right, what was once home to Ford Motor Company can become one of the most sustainable, accessible communities in the world – a place where people, businesses and organizations across the globe will want to call home.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four Great Winter Activities to Get Your Family Outdoors in Saint Paul

Don’t let the snow keep you indoors this winter. Bundle up the kids and get ready to kick that cabin fever as your family enjoys all the great winter activities, programs, and events Saint Paul has to offer.

Ice Skating

Ice Rink Locations
Saint Paul has fourteen locations with general skating rinks, as well as the Winter Skate refrigerated rink at Landmark Plaza and three refrigerated hockey rinks located at Phalen, North Dale, and Palace recreation centers. At the time of this post, North Dale, Palace, and Landmark Plaza are open, as well as several other rinks throughout the city. There is no cost to skate at Saint Paul ice rinks. For information on rink conditions, warming facility times, additional locations, and other information, visit the Ice Rink page.

Skating Lessons
For those who aren’t ready to hit the rink on their own just yet, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation offers skating lessons at Groveland, Langford Park, Phalen, North Dale, North West Como and Palace ice rinks. Children will learn all the fundamentals, including forward and backward skating, stopping, and falling safely. Lessons begin in January and online registration is available.

Family Skating Parties

Create memories at a Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Family Skating Party this winter! Parties take place in January at Hayden Heights, Phalen, Langford Park, North Dale, and North West Como recreation centers. Additional activities vary by location, but may include winter arts and crafts, snow games, hot chocolate, snacks, bonfires, snowshoeing and other winter themed activities. Family Skating Parties are free of charge. More information can be found online, or by calling the recreation center.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing is a great way to have fun outdoors and get a full body workout at the same time. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation offers groomed cross country trails for classic and skate skiing at Como Park Ski Center, Highland 9 Golf Course, and Phalen Golf Course. There is no cost to cross country ski with your own equipment. Cross country ski rentals and lessons are available at Como Park Ski Center. For cross country trail maps, conditions, and more information, visit the cross country ski website.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Who says you have to leave town to have a great time on the slopes? The Como Park Ski Center features two rope tows and a 150 foot vertical drop on 15 skiable acres. The Como Park Ski Chalet offers a warm retreat with restrooms, concessions and rental equipment. Snowboard and downhill skiing lessons are available in December and January for ages four and up. For hours, admission prices, rental rates, and other information, visit the Como Park Ski Center website.

Sledding Hills 

Feel the wind in your hair and the chill on your cheeks as you glide down a slope of fresh powder at a Saint Paul sledding hill. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation offers fourteen great sledding hills located at parks and recreation centers around the city. Hill slopes range from gentle to steep. There is no cost to slide. Check out a map and full list of locations on the sledding hill website.

Other Winter Activities
We could have listed 100 great winter activities in Saint Paul, but we will let you browse the rest yourself in our Winter/Spring Activity Brochure. Inside you will find more fun family programs and events such as Snow Cave Making, Geocaching on Snowshoes, Family Snowman Making, Ice Fishing, and more! Registration is available online for many activities.

Bonus: The Como Park Zoo is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Hours are 10am-4pm through March. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Have a Happy and SAFE Holiday Season

The holidays are a time for family festivities and good cheer, but unfortunately the holidays also present an increased risk of home fires. Cooking, candles, Christmas trees, and other holiday decorations all contribute to this seasonal increase in fires. Add to that the often hectic nature of the holidays, and the chance for home fires grows even more. However, with a little added awareness and a few safety precautions, most home fires can be prevented.
  • December is the peak time of year for candle fires, and more than half of all candle fires start when things that burn are too close to the candle. Consider the following:
  • Using a battery-operated flameless candle – there are many now that look and smell like real candles without the fire risk.
  • If you use a traditional candle, use a holder that’s sturdy and won’t tip over easily and place on a flat, uncluttered surface. 
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Blow out all candles whenever you leave the room or go to bed, and never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle.

Christmas Trees
Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious – an average of one in every 40 Christmas tree fires in the U.S. result in death.
  • If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant. 
  • If you use a real tree, choose one that has fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. 
  • Before you place it in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk. 
  • Add water daily to the tree stand to keep your tree from drying out. 
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces, radiators candles, or heat vents – a heat source too close to the tree causes one in every six Christmas tree fires.
  • Never use candles to decorate the tree! 
  • After Christmas, get rid of the tree. 
  • Do not leave the tree within 10 feet of your home or garage. 
  • In this dramatic video, you can see how a dry Christmas tree becomes completely engulfed in flames and spreads to the entire room in less than a minute.

  • Some lights are for indoor or outdoor use only, while others can be used indoors and outdoors, so be sure to read the label to make sure you’re using the right kind of lights for the location. 
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. 
  • Connect no more than 3 strings of mini lights or a maximum of 50 screw-in bulbs. 
  • Read the manufacturer’s directions for the number of strings of LED lights you can connect. 
  • Turn off all light strings before leaving your home or going to bed.

Holiday Entertaining
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Test each of them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside and keep their smoking materials with them so children don’t have access to them. Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. 
  • Stay in the kitchen and look when you cook! Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet away from the stovetop and turn off burners when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time. 
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Slide the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it’s completely cooled. 
  • Never put water on a cooking oil fire.  For an oven or microwave fire, leave the door closed and turn off the heat. 

Project Safe Haven
Saint Paul homeowners can help make sure their homes are safe for the holidays by participating in Project Safe Haven. Through this free program, homeowners will get a brochure with a home safety checklist, and you can have Saint Paul firefighters come to your home to make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are installed correctly and working. They will also provide you with and install smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and stovetop fire extinguishers for free if you need them. 
For more information about Project Safe Haven, call 651-228-6273 or go to and click on the link for Project Safe Haven and let us help you make your home a safe haven from fire.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Saint Paul Celebrates Renovated Libraries

See the highlights reel from the recent reopenings of Sun Ray and Highland Park Libraries. Saint Paul Public Library welcomed over 5,000 people at these celebrations! The renovated libraries are now larger and brighter, and feature more meeting and reading space, additional computers and faster Wi-Fi, and interactive art and design.

Check it out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Right Track Wins Local Government Innovation Award

At the City of Saint Paul we work every day to find innovative ways of working smarter in the face of tight budgets. Recently we were honored as an overall category winner of a Local Government Innovation Award (LGIA) for our Right Track youth career development pipeline. The LGIA program is a partnership between the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Bush Foundation, League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties and other public associations. Judges named 20 award-winners from among 100 entries.
What is Right Track?
Right Track is Saint Paul’s pipeline for youth career development and building a diverse future workforce. It brings together partners to address changing demographics and disparities by providing work experiences and skills development for youth facing barriers. Right Track moves youth from subsidized to unsubsidized jobs and creates pathways into in-demand careers.

In Saint Paul 24 percent of youth are unemployed. Our city struggles with poverty and racial disparities. However our diversity is an asset: 40 percent of residents are people of color. Additionally, more than 23,000 businesses are located here. Right Track matches young people’s need for work with employers’ needs to develop diverse talent.

The Right Track Pipeline
Right Track presents youth employment as a pipeline rather than a program:
·         Youth Jobs 01 (YJ01) provides City-subsidized jobs for youth in parks, libraries, and nonprofits.
·         Youth Jobs 02 (YJ02) matches youth with employer-paid professional internships while also providing ongoing skills training and job coach support to ensure success.

·         Youth Jobs Pro (YJPro) is a collection of partner-run programs that provide advanced opportunities in specific sectors, such as IT and emergency medical services. 

Right Track aims to help young people understand how a first job in a park or a library could lead to a summer internship with a company like Ecolab, which could lead to a certificate or credential through a program like Genesys Works or the EMS Academy. The Right Track vision communicates to employers how a summer internship fits into a student’s career trajectory. 

Many cities run youth employment programs. Right Track stands out for these reasons:
  • Clear pipeline that makes it easy for youth and employers to understand the pathways from subsidized to unsubsidized jobs,
  • Use of technology to give young people a voice in their worksite assignment via an online job bank,
  • High level of training and support provided to youth and supervisors in the YJ02 professional internship program, and
  • Intentional marketing of partner-run YJPro opportunities to youth in Right Track YJ01 and YJ02 to expand awareness of possibilities.

As winner of the LGIA “Cities” category, Right Track will receive a $5,000 grant and a professionally produced video to share the story of its work. Two years ago, Saint Paul’s EMS Academy was a finalist for the awards.

We need employers. Join us!
Each year we have many more youth applicants than we have jobs. Businesses can help erase that gap! The cost of hiring a young person for an 8-week professional internship is $1,500.  

To learn more about how your organization can help build a diverse talent pool for our future workforce, visit or contact Catherine Penkert, Right Track Manager, at 651.266.6422 or