Dan Gage, Chair
Minnesota 2050 (MN2050) is a coalition of partners comprising engineering and infrastructure professional organizations working in the public, private, and educational sectors and striving to provide Minnesota citizens with acceptable infrastructure that meets the needs of the 21st century.
MN2050 is not a political organization with party affiliations. We are strictly affiliated with a healthy future for Minnesota. As a not-for-profit organization, we rely on the generosity of our members and sponsors – both public and private. The MN2050 organization was started in December 2009 following a meeting coordinated by the Minnesota Chapters of APWA and ASCE. The meeting included representatives from the University of Minnesota, the engineering community, transportation lobbying organizations, the legislature, and a local elected official. The educators, engineers, and lobbyists generally described infrastructure issues, including the importance of adequate infrastructure funding. The elected officials stressed the importance of delivering the infrastructure message directly to the public.
In mid-2011, the MN2050 organization name was reserved as a non-profit organization pursuantto Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 317A along with the ICANN name: MN2050.org. As a nonprofit organization, MN2050 operates under the Minnesota Chapter of APWA as an educational or scientific organization having a tax-exempt status under Section 501 (c) 3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 granted to the American Public Works Association.
Minnesota 2050 (MN2050) Goals
MN2050 is a collaborative partnership for infrastructure advocacy with three main goals:
- Increase public awareness about the importance of our state’s critical infrastructure.
- Develop K through 12 infrastructure-related curriculum to educate Minnesota’s 2050 leaders and partner with educators, coalitions and foundations to integrate the STEM education fields and infrastructure knowledge.
- Establish a platform to help professionals research and advance our infrastructure management message.
Why MN2050 and How Did it Get Started?
Dan Gage, Past-President, MN Chapter of APWA
In 2008, Larry Frevert, Past-President, American Public Works Association (APWA) made a presentation at the annual Minnesota Chapter Fall Conference. It was titled America 2050 in reference to a 2006 publication (Regional Plan association, “America 2050: A Prospectus,” New York, September 2006). It covered what America might look like from an economic perspective and the role that infrastructure plays in our economy. Clearly, if we as Americans are going to compete at a world level, we must invest in not only maintaining, but strategically building the infrastructure of this country. Infrastructure has clearly allowed this country to become a world economic leader. We have been able to manufacture goods and disperse them not only in this country but worldwide. Today, we need to ask ourselves what is the current state of this country’s infrastructure and will it meet our needs moving forward? At the end of his presentation, President Frevert suggested that Minnesotans should ask: What we might look like in the year 2050?
As incoming 2009 Minnesota Chapter President, I thought the challenge had merit for a number of reasons. In early February 2009, we brought the idea forward to the Chapter strategic planning meeting to discuss whether the idea should be pursued. It was concluded we should at least ask other organizations throughout the state if they would like to get together and discuss the topic.
Many infrastructure managers are not only members of the APWA, but also members of other professional groups. The one thing that stood out was that all of these organizations fight for the same tax dollars. We have similar goals and infrastructure projects needing funding. We all understand that to get funding we need to generate public knowledge and support. Here is the amazing part; we have never gotten together as a larger group to discuss each organization’s needs or ideas, but we understand the challenges.
Another concern raised in the America 2050 presentation was that there were eight large economic “Mega Regions” that would drive the country forward. Minnesota was within the Chicago/Great Lakes Mega Region and along with Kansas City represented significant interconnected urban zones to the Region. This would be challenging, but if we want Minnesota to grow, prosper and play a more significant role going forward, we need to be different from surrounding states. Meaning, we need to plan better and have a collective and all-encompassing approach for our State and local governments infrastructure improvement, thus ensuring our economic long-term success.