Sunday, June 17, 2018

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A Forum First

This spring, Minnesota Public Radio launched the Minnesota Agenda series to address a range of topics critical to the future of the state's competitiveness. The event was held at The UBS Forum, a convening space at Minnesota Public Radio's newly expanded headquarters. The April 7 half-day summit, which included Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman along with city council members, department heads, police and fire personnel and other senior staff from both cities, marks the start of an ongoing conversation about Minnesota's competitive future.

St. Paul, Minn. -- "Minnesota Public Radio is in a unique position to bring these groups together, and The UBS Forum is the ideal space to do it," says Jeff Nelson, senior producer for The UBS Forum. "There were people in that room who had not met and discussions that needed to happen that had not happened and, for me, that's why we did it."

Discussion focused on major collaboration areas, including economic development, transportation, education, health, public safety and urban leadership. The series will include half a dozen meetings over the course of the year that bring together elected officials, business leaders, related nonprofit organizations, interest groups, members of Minnesota Public Radio's Public Insight Network, the general public and Minnesota Public Radio journalists, who will dig into an issue, deeply explore its implications and generate ideas regarding future action.

Eventually, says Nelson, the discussions will make their way online and on air. "Not only can we convene [at The UBS Forum] but we can amplify that event to the public," he says. The UBS Forum is equipped to serve as an interactive production and broadcast facility for keynote presentations, political debates, town-hall meetings, international convocations and cultural dialogues. And it can broadcast those conversations to Minnesota Public Radio's network of 37 regional radio stations and beyond.

That capacity as a studio space came into play at the summit, which it concluded with a live broadcast of Midday with Gary Eichten. Both mayors talked about the need for more collaboration to advance both city's agendas in a range of areas from health to education to transportation. It's the first of many conversations centered around issues that affect the lives of Minnesotans.

(This article also appeared in the June 2006 "Plugged In" section of Minnesota Monthly.)