In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, riots and efforts to dismantle the city's police department, Minneapolis could be facing economic damage from which it may never be able to recover, according to a new report.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sunday reported that persistent crime, shock from the riots that destroyed much of the city earlier this year and most of the city's workforce not commuting to their downtown offices -- and therefore not spending money at local restaurants and businesses -- have brought the city to the brink of disaster.
"I’m moving my business out to the suburbs," Vanessa Rybicka, who owns a professional services firm, said. "I can't deal with it."
Rybicka complained of a decrease in police, regular harassment of passers-by, and daily fights at a mall in downtown.
Rybicka also told the Star Tribune that she plans to move out of her apartment in the city too. Her move would add to the already flagging real estate markets in the city. The Star Tribune reported that there's a 6.4% vacancy rate in downtown apartments, citing a report from Marquette Advisors, and that the listings for condos in July were up 46% in Minneapolis compared to the same time in 2019, citing Minneapolis Area Realtors.
Add to that the fact that 85% of the city's workforce is still telecommuting, according to the paper, and some of those moves to virtual work may be permanent, and you have a recipe for long-term economic contraction, said Steve Cramer, the president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
"Realistically when we come out of this condition that we’re in … I just think there’s going to be a new lower baseline of economic activity for downtown," Cramer said, according to the paper.
The Minneapolis Downtown Council also cited calls to dismantle the city's police department as a potential deterrent to the city's economy in a joint statement with two other economic organizations in June. A ballot measure to reduce spending of police was tabled for this year, but Minneapolis City Council members have reiterated their commitment to dismantling the city's police at their next potential opportunity.
"There is an unmistakable and significant negative impact from the framing of a needed discussion about improving law enforcement and other public safety efforts as 'dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department,'" the downtown council said in its June statement. "Without a clear understanding that policing services will be reinvented but not eliminated in our City, we can anticipate the desirability of Minneapolis as a community to live, visit, invest, and create/maintain jobs within will diminish."