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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Introducing Saint Paul Business Beat – A New Video Series

The City of Saint Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) works to ensure that Saint Paul continues to be the most livable city in America, and a recognized leader in city planning, neighborhood revitalization, housing and economic development.
The Economic Development team within PED works directly with businesses around the city to provide technical and financial assistance, identify office space with help from a broker network, create solutions for parking, and provides referrals that leverage resources and assistance through economic development partners such as the Saint Paul Port Authority, the Minnesota Trade Office, and Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.

PED staff also helps businesses by promoting their innovative products and services around the region. To further this work, PED has just launched a new video series called Saint Paul Business Beat that will provide viewers a glimpse inside great companies in Saint Paul highlighting their unique products and services.

The inaugural edition features CoCo, a coworking and collaborative space located in Lowertown at 213 4th Street. CoCo got their start in Saint Paul in 2010 and since then has expanded into Minneapolis with two additional locations, has garnered attention and support from Google for entrepreneurial training, and recently started a new school called Jump! for people to uncover their purpose and design their life’s work around that purpose. Don Ball, co-founder of CoCo gives us a tour and a couple of CoCo users talk about their experience in utilizing the space to do business and network. 

Stay tuned for future editions of Saint Paul Business Beat and for more information about PED, visit

Monday, February 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Emerald Tree Boas!

Como Zoo's Emerald Tree Boas are one year old!  Twenty neonates were born in January 2013 from the same parents who had offspring in 2011.  Emerald tree boas are born brick red and start changing color around 6-9 months of age, with red becoming orange and eventually green-- a process called ontogenesis.  The white markings do not change from juvenile to adulthood.   Many species of snakes have different color phases as they age.
These boas are arboreal and native to the tropical rainforests of South America.  Their “emerald” green coloration provides perfect camouflage during adult years when they are found in the canopy of the rainforest.  The reddish juvenile coloration is thought to provide camouflage in the lower part of the rainforest where it is darker and shadowy.  Juvenile emeralds find protection from predators and abundant food in the lower forest areas.  As they mature (and change color), they will move higher into the rainforest's upper canopy.

The pictures show their newborn coloration, 8-9 month transition phase, and adult coloration now at one year old.  Happy 1st Birthday Emeralds!

Red coloration of neonates
8-9 months old coloration

Adult coloration

Friday, February 21, 2014

Green Line train testing about to ramp up: Be ready, be safe

By now, everyone’s likely heard that the Green Line will start operations on University Avenue starting June 14 with a celebration and a weekend of free service on the entire transit system. The entire transit system includes the additional bus service to help you connect to the Green Line – more info on that here.

Trains have been testing already, but the regular schedule (without passengers) will begin in April for additional testing as well as training of drivers. This will mean a lot more trains and a greater need for everyone to know the rules about safety. Be sure to learn more about safety and the Green Line here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A motley media mix from our video staff

There’s a lot happening in Saint Paul, and our Office of Technology and Communications staff have been working hard to capture it all.
Would you like to take a behind the scenes tour of the soon to open Arlington Hills Community Center?  Well then, click here …

The cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are partnering together in a challenge with Columbus, Ohio and Des Moines, Iowa to end veteran homelessness.  The challenge will run until January, 2015.

While the 138th Saint Paul Winter Carnival is history, this video will help you re-live some of its best moments.

In 2013, the City of Saint Paul produced 184 videos. Here is a taste of what our video producers captured throughout the year.


Friday, February 14, 2014

The Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority

Submitted by Councilmember Amy Brendmoen, Ward 5
As the recently elected Chair of Saint Paul's Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), I've enjoyed digging in to Saint Paul's development history and goals for the future. In short, the HRA (comprised of the seven members of the City Council) authorizes nearly all the activities of the Planning and Economic Development Department (PED). PED is responsible for ensuring a sufficient supply of adequate housing for persons of all income levels and redeveloping blighted areas. To accomplish these goals, PED can buy and sell land, rehabilitate housing, employ financial tools to spur redevelopment, and apply for and distribute financing from other governmental and non-governmental entities.

With nearly half of the commissioners on the HRA in their first terms (including yours truly), it’s the right time to refresh our knowledge-base, clarify our goals and help shape Saint Paul’s development plan for the future. To this end, Vice Chair Russ Stark and I have been engaged in a ‘listening tour’ with stakeholders over the past month. The meetings have been energizing and informative, and we plan to bring our regional and local development partners to the HRA on a regular basis to keep us apprised and engaged in economic development work that impacts our city. 

Recently, the HRA participated in a workshop with Ramsey County focused on cultivating economic prosperity. The county’s plan aims to bring its stakeholders to a consensus about the region's strengths and challenges when it comes to positioning ourselves for a future of shared prosperity. An important insight of this presentation is that Ramsey County (and the City of Saint Paul in particular) has a very high proportion of non-taxable and non-developable land as compared to other areas of Minnesota. In addition, we have a high percentage of subsidized housing for low and moderate income earners. Financially speaking, housing generally costs the city money (tax revenue falls short of the cost of development and services) and industry generates more revenue to finance public operations. Finding the right mix of jobs and housing will be a primary challenge the HRA faces as we assess potential investments.

Saint Paul’s outstanding public services and amenities make it a place people chose to live. Economic development and growth generates the revenue needed to support these vital services and creates jobs that will attract and retain a talented, community-centered workforce. I am excited to work with my HRA colleagues, PED and our local and regional stakeholders to find that balance and continue to move our great city towards an even more vibrant future.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

African American History Month events start this Friday

The City of Saint Paul and Ramsey County are proud to celebrate African American History Month.  This year’s events will profile one of Saint Paul’s largest African American communities, the Rondo neighborhood.  The theme of the 2014 African American History month is, “Rondo: An Enduring Legacy Celebrating the Past; Embracing the Future.”  The events feature speakers who witnessed Rondo’s history and are committed to preserving Rondo’s future.      

The 2014 African American History Month Committee for the City of Saint Paul and Ramsey County has organized the following schedule of events that profile the Rondo community:

Friday, February 14, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.: 
  • Marvin Anderson, Co-Founder of Rondo Days, “I Remember Rondo”
  • Ben Mchie, Creator of the African American Registry, “Preserving Memories of Saint Paul”
  • Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, Master of Ceremonies
  • City Hall/Courthouse – 15 W Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul, Lower Level - Room 40 A & B

Friday, February 21, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.:
  • Debbie Montgomery, “March from Selma to Montgomery”
  • Ramsey County Director of Workforce Solutions Patricia Brady, Master of Ceremonies
  • Government Center East, 160 E. Kellogg Blvd., Room 7600

Friday, February 28, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
  • Proclamations by Mayor Chris Coleman, Council President Kathy Lantry, & Commissioner Chair Jim McDonough
  • Saint Paul Public Schools African American Male Initiative will give a performance on legacy, entitled: “We’re Honoring a Legacy”
  • Daniel Bergin, Documentary Filmmaker and Senior Producer at Twin Cities Public Television will present “The Power of Storytelling: A Pathway to the Future”
  • Deputy Mayor Paul Williams, Master of Ceremonies
  • Lunch catered by Abundant Catering:  First-come, first-serve.  Lunch served on 2/28 only.
  • Program 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • City Hall/Courthouse - 15 W Kellogg Blvd, Saint Paul, Lower Level - Room 40 A & B

The above presentations are free and open to the public.

Saint Paul Public Libraries is proud to feature the following Book Clubs in honor of African American History Month:

Thursday, Feb. 13 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Book Club presents the film: Freedom Riders
  • Dayton’s Bluff Library, 645 E 7th St, 651-793-1699

Monday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Book Club discussion: Copper Sun by Susan Draper
  • Merriam Park Library, 1831 Marshall Ave, 651-642-0385

Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7:45 p.m.
  • Book Club discussion: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • Highland Park Library, 1974 Ford Pkwy, (Library is closed for renovations; event will be held in the Hillcrest Recreation Center)

Thursday, Feb. 27 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Book Club discussion: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass
  • Central Library, 90 W 4th St, 651-266-7000

Book clubs are free, and new members are always welcome.  For more information about the Saint Paul Public Library’s book clubs, visit:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Good neighbors can warm up the winter

Submitted by Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management

Mr. Rogers taught us many lessons in his day-- mostly to be a good neighbor.  During this cold, snowy, icy winter season, we can take cues from Mr. Rogers and help our neighbors out (cardigan sweater optional).

Cold winter temperatures cause us to spend more time indoors.  Unlike in summer, when we see our neighbors outside regularly, we can go days without seeing neighbors in the cold and longer nights of winter.  Please, take the time to check on your neighbors, especially if they are older or ill health, just to make sure they are OK. 

Another way to help your neighbors is to adopt a fire hydrant.  There are more than 7,000 fire hydrants in the city.   Snowfalls and snow removal often covers, buries or restricts clear access to fire hydrants.  If any of those are needed to fight a fire, having them covered in snow will delay the fire department and waste precious seconds and minutes while firefighters locate and dig them out to gain access rather than fight the fire.  If you have one on your street, help out the fire department by shoveling out a clear access path to the hydrant, at least one foot around the hydrant and out to the street.  You may be helping your neighbor or yourself. 

While you are shoveling, make sure your sidewalk is also clear and salted/sanded if necessary.  Leave skating on ice for the hockey rink, not your sidewalk.  And since you are outside anyway, check your fresh air intake on your furnace system to make sure it too is clear of snow.  There have been several stories recently of carbon monoxide poisoning stemming from blocked air intakes.  Carbon monoxide detectors are essential for alerting you to any dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in your residence, but performing the crucial preventive checks on your system will keep your family safe and healthy.

For more on how to prepare for winter, visit:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Live in Saint Paul? Do your local firefighter a favor and help us clear access to fire hydrants!

As the snow continues to accumulate in Saint Paul, the Saint Paul Fire Department and Saint Paul Regional Water Services are asking for the public’s help in digging out the city’s more than 7,000 fire hydrants.

In an emergency, being able to get to fire hydrants easily can save lives as well as property. The fire department regularly sends out crews to dig out Saint Paul’s fire hydrants and SPRWS has created an updated map of all hydrant locations, but with more than 7,000 throughout the city, they cannot get to them all. We need everyone’s help in making the hydrants accessible and visible.

Difficulty finding or clearing a fire hydrant can pose serious problems for fire fighters in the midst of an emergency. Trucks carry 500 gallons of water, but in a serious situation, they can pump more than 1,000 gallons a minute per truck. In larger fires, several trucks pumping this volume of water is required, and fire hydrants are needed to deliver that life-saving water.

When shoveling your sidewalk, take the extra time to dig out at least a foot around the hydrant down to the ground and out to the street. This will allow fire fighters access to the hydrant.

Try to clear enough snow to make the hydrant visible. With snowfall and subsequent plowing, hydrants could be buried under hard, compacted snow.

If you know where a fire hydrant is near your home, your neighbor’s home, or at work, offer to adopt that hydrant and keep it cleared of snow. It could save a life, your home, or your place of work.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Project Legacy: The Dreaming Begins

Last week, some civic-minded staff from Public Works spent a Saturday morning overseeing two engineering challenges designed to engage the minds of 75 middle school children.  

The students, all hailing from schools in the Saint Paul school district, had the chance to test their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) knowledge against two challenges: The first was to build a car from junk food including Oreo cookies, marshmallows, Lifesavers and pretzel sticks.

The second challenge required the students to build a free-standing tower using only mini marshmallows and toothpicks. Working under a tight deadline of just a few minutes, these activities were an important exercise in utilizing problem-solving skills while working together with peers.

Civil engineer Jesse Farrell and electrician supervisor John McNamara, who oversaw the tower challenge, both came away impressed with the students’ creativity and ability to take on the problems from several unique angles. Civil engineers Sonja Piper, Reuben Collins and David Kuebler oversaw the car challenge and were very impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and teamwork.

Public Works’ goal was to create a first-hand demonstration of how engineering is everywhere in our everyday lives. Hours of planning goes into the most mundane everyday activities—from crossing the street to flushing the toilet. One thing is certain-- engaging students to recognize the benefits of STEM skills is just one part of keeping them interested, but sometimes junk food is a great catalyst.