Skip to main content

Coleman touts St. Paul arts, biz as reasons to 'brag' – but says work still to be done

  • Author:
  • Updated:

We're in good shape, but we need to do better.

That was the general theme of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's State of the City speech Thursday night, in which he touted the artistic, economic and safety reasons to brag about the city – while also asking its residents to realize there's progress still to be made.

Arts and culture

"Here in Saint Paul, we have so much to brag about," the third-term mayor said from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts' new stage – a venue upgrade that happened after he pushed for state money nine years ago, the Pioneer Press notes.

The speech also served as a concert where local musicians performed,including Chastity Brown, Heiruspecs and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The inclusion underscored one of Coleman's themes of the night: the city's cultural scene. While acknowledging Austin and Nashville have "a pretty good head start" for the title of "most musical city in America," St. Paul has plenty to brag about.

He also mentioned the new comprehensive bike plan, the Wild and the Xcel Energy Center, CHS Field, and the $15 million in city library renovations of recent years.

More businesses

Coleman also said the city's economic growth, particularly the number of new and thriving businesses, is worth celebration.

The headliner may have been Ecolab, which announced Thursday that it's buying downtown St. Paul's Travelers Cos.' tower, the Star Tribune reports. Ecolab's thousands of employees will be more centralized in the 17-story tower, rather than spread across a few downtown locations as they are now.

Coleman also listed businesses that have expanded, including Redpath, KLJ Engineering, Afro Deli, Urban Growler, Legacy Chocolates, and Revival Wine, Beer and Spirits.

Last year, the city issued building permits representing $715 million of activity, Coleman said. That's almost double what it was five years prior.

Work to be done

Despite the list of successes, Coleman took time to point out that not everybody sees the prosperity.

The achievement gap between whites and students of color is still too wide, he said. But he did say programs such as Promise Neighborhood show things are moving in the right direction.

At all three schools in St. Paul's Promise Neighborhood (an area comprising of the Frogtown and Summit-University areas), test scores went up, and outpaced state and district averages.

"In fact, at Jackson Elementary School, students made an 8 percent gain on state achievement test scores, compared to the state’s one percent gain," he said, noting that there is no significant gap in achievement between racial groups at the school.

Overall racial inequality Coleman described as a "monumental" challenge facing the city, one he hopes to address with programs such as the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, or helping youths find summer jobs.

"We must aim not to narrow the achievement gap, but to close it," he said. "Aim not to reduce disparities in income and employment and in housing and health care, but to eliminate them."

Next Up

police tape

3 at trauma centers in critical condition after rural MN attack

Two victims and the alleged attacker are in critical condition.

grinch neighbor

Neighborhood 'grinch' sends letter to Burnsville family over holiday lights

A Burnsville family's holiday decorations were the subject of an anonymous complaint.


Anthropologie shutters Grand Avenue store, opening planned for Rosedale Center

The popular holiday shopping weekend marked the last for customers of the Grand Avenue store.

hospital, emergency room

Woman found on side of highway after hit-and-run

The 41-year-old was airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Jorden Nicole Borders

Charges: Minnesota woman tortured her kids, removed boy's blood

Warning: This story contains upsetting content.

first snow

Will narrow band of 6+ inches of snow hit Twin Cities Tuesday?

The NWS says a band of 6+ inches is looking likely. It's now a matter of where.


Siblings, ages 19 and 14, killed in crash on icy MN highway

The crash happened around 1:15 a.m. Saturday in Carlton County.

Nicholas Kraus

Man sentenced for fatally striking woman during Uptown protest

Nicholas Kraus, 36, of St. Paul drove into a protest in Uptown last year, killing Deona Marie Knajdek.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Fleeing suspect crashes into vehicle in Woodbury, 2 injured

The crash occurred Friday afternoon after a pursuit with Woodbury police.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 2.34.44 PM

Yes, that's MN native Jenny Taft in a State Farm commercial

Jenny Taft got her broadcasting career started in Minneapolis in 2011.

crime scene tape - police tape

23-year-old woman critical after shooting in Plymouth

A 23-year-old woman was shot Friday night in Plymouth.

white Christmas

2 MN towns among most 'magical' winter locations in the country

The list was compiled by Trips Discover and published earlier this month.