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  • SAFE AND SICK LEAVE OP-ED (Star Tribune 5/27/2016)

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    On behalf of 21 metro chambers of commerce: Apple Valley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Dakota County Regional, Eden Prairie, Edina, Elk River Area, Hastings Area, Hudson, WI, Metro North, Midway, Minneapolis Regional, North Hennepin Area, Northfield, River Heights, Saint Paul Area, Shakopee Area, South West Metro, Twin Cities North, TwinWest, Waconia

    In addition to being known for having “twin cities,” the Minneapolis St. Paul metropolitan area is home to 180 local cities within the seven county metro area.  Each community has its own identity and energy that brings with it both strengths and challenges.  We can offer people a broad variety of places to live, things to do, and people to hire and work with – in part because of the diversity of our marketplace.
    The challenge faced in this unique marketplace is finding an effective way to blend this diversity into a coordinated vision. Public and private sector leaders in Minneapolis and other communities have advocated a broad vision for the entire marketplace that allows for regional growth to strengthen our economy - a vision that allows us to better compete across the country and around the world.
    One of the strongest advocates for a regional approach has been the City of Minneapolis, which is comprised of a number of Fortune 500 companies, a burgeoning small business sector and significant public venues within its boundaries. Minneapolis enriches our metro area while benefiting from being part of a thriving metropolitan region.  We are stronger when we work together with a coordinated vision to allow our region to compete with Denver, Seattle, and other cities. 
    After years of urging the entire metro area to take a regional approach to complex issues, today we stand at a crossroads as Minnesota’s largest city takes the dramatic and amazingly autonomous step of creating a sick and safe leave mandate.  A mandate that will not solve the challenge of how to better support employees, but rather threatens the foundation of our regional vision.
    The Metropolitan Advocacy Coalition of Chambers (MACC), a group of 21 Chambers of Commerce throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area with a combined membership of more than 10,000 businesses urge the Minneapolis City Council to consider the effects their action will have on our regional vision.  Our members are employers who hire thousands of people from across our region, purchase goods and services from companies in the area, and work in collaboration to make our regional economy strong and vibrant; yet will have to pause and consider how business is done in the City of Minneapolis once this mandate takes effect.

    Mayor Hodges has stressed the need to take a regional approach to key challenges yet Minneapolis now seeks to enforce a system that will create new burdens and costs for companies, negatively impacting the entire region’s ability to compete with other markets for customers and employees.  Our economy is too diverse for a one-size-fits all sick and safe leave policy to work, particularly if enacted differently in each local community.  While Minneapolis is an economic hub, it is not an island—rather it is surrounded by and supported by businesses and workers from communities throughout the Twin Cities Metropolitan area.  
    As a regional economy, we are all interconnected in a way that helps make this a great place to start and grow businesses.  We have an amazingly skilled workforce who is incredibly important to each company and our region’s ability to grow.  Our member employers know this and do all they can to attract and retain employees with generous benefit packages that best meet their business needs. Minneapolis’ decision to enact its own set of rules creates a new and dangerous challenge to our interconnectivity. 
    Together let’s focus on creating a regional environment where businesses across city boundaries are encouraged to offer benefits; an environment where our workplaces promote innovation and flexibility—two things that simply cannot be mandated.
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