This Policy and Impact Study by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota is the second in a series of four developed as part of the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project, an effort supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The report illustrates how Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) has benefited from applying a cluster approach as a conceptual framework for diagnosing the regional economy and as a platform for joint action to address the challenges identified. The cluster framework provided public and private regional leaders with a common language for understanding regional competitiveness, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of their dialogue. By organizing the policy discussion around clusters, the programs that were developed became targeted enough to have an effect on the issues that mattered for MSP. The cluster-based approach was first applied in workforce development, but over time has been used in other policy areas as well, including in the creation of a broader regional economic development strategy.
A set of four Policy and Impact Studies was developed by the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project to impart collaborative, real-world examples of how clusters have been used to improve regional economic growth. These studies are: Mobilizing Oregon Clusters (OR), the Minneapolis-St. Paul Regional Cluster Initiative (MN), New Carolina (SC), and the Precision Manufacturing Regional Alliance (MA). By documenting cluster programs and amassing a set of best practices, they display how organizations can apply and leverage data from the U.S. Cluster Mapping website to improve their own regions. Each study tells a unique story, but all provide lessons learned that can be applied and extended to other regions.