Itasca's priorities are dynamic. They have evolved over time with the needs of the region and interest of its members. 
In 2011-2012 Itasca has focused on three priorities:

  1.   Improving Higher Education - The Itasca Project launched a task force to identify strategies for higher education in Minnesota to drive long-term, sustainable economic growth and prosperity. The work is being led by a team of 12 leaders from business, nonprofit, and higher education institutions. An advisory group of 40 business and community leaders provides input and guidance. Read: Higher Education Partnerships for Prosperity.
  2.   Generating Quality Job Growth - Itasca launched a task force to assess our job growth position and develop strategies and policies to promote the retention, creation, and attraction of quality jobs in the Twin Cities region.  Read Charting a New Course: Restoring Job Growth in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Region.

Two outcomes of this work include:

- Greater MSP - This regional economic development partnership was initiated to drive a coordinated strategy for the region, including attracting and retaining more quality jobs. As a public-private partnership funded by charitable donations, its vision is to be a value-added resource to all economic development organizations in the Greater Minneaplis St. Paul region.

- Business Bridge - This initiative more efficiently connects proven small companies to larger customers and, in so doing, helps grow jobs here in Minnesota. Business Bridge includes the Supplier Showcase.  More information here.  See the program from the 2012 Showcase here.
  3.   Advancing a Comprehensive and Aligned Transportation System - An Itasca Project task force has worked to amplify efforts to forge a comprehensive transportation plan for the region.  As a stakeholder in regional discussions around proposals for transit investment, Itasca's transportation task force sought to understand "what is the expected economic return on regional transit investments?"  The task force's regional Transit ROI study is available here.  A PowerPoint presentation summarizing the study is available here.
4. Improving our Region's Education System Closely linked to job growth, education reform is a top priority for Itasca.   Recent initiatives include:

- Minnesota's Future: World Class Schools World Class Jobs. The Itasca Project joined with the Minnesota Business Partnership to examine the best practices of world-class education systems, benchmark Minnesota against those systems, and identify initiatives that the business community could support to elevate Minnesotas school system to world-class.  Read the report here

- Supporting the Strategic Re-direction of Minneapolis Public Schools - A new superintendent and an invigorated school board received pro bono support from McKinsey & Company consultants in 2007 to build a plan to transform the district.  Itasca Project sponsored this work and continues its involvement as part of its commitment to closing socioeconomic disparities and workforce development gaps.  Information on the MPS strategic plan is available at www.mpls.k12.mn.us/domain/10.
5. Addressing the Region's Socioeconomic Disparities - In 2012 Itasca plans to build on our previous work in this area, including the Brookings Institution's "Mind the Gap" study and awareness campaign and the five-part documentary that premiered on tpt. To access the documentaries and supporting discussion materials, visit www.MNcompass.org/disparities.

Past initiatives include:

  1.   Building Financial Fitness - A task force researched the best ways to improve the long-term economic stability of the Twin Cities by increasing the financial fitness of individuals and families in our community. Employees, especially those who are minorities, young and earn lower incomes, are often not getting the full advantage of their benefits and are struggling with financial issues. In response, the task force launched Financially Fit Minnesota, which worked with Minnesota employers to promote practical, focused actions to increase savings and banking among employees and close gaps between employee groups.
  2.   Setting Regional Performance Indicators - Itasca Project and Wilder Research launched the Twin Cities Compass in late 2007 (www.MNcompass.org), which will be the central source of data about regional progress toward closing socioeconomic disparities and sustaining our regional competitiveness and quality of life.
  3.   Building a Stronger University-Business Partnership Using a team of loaned executives, Itasca worked with the University of Minnesota to create a front door to the U that would facilitate stronger cooperation with business, improve the process to commercialize intellectual property, and strengthen the U as a talent magnet.
  4.   Improving Early Childhood Education In 2005, Itasca provided Minnesotas Governor the pro-bono services of a consulting team from McKinsey and Company to examine the current programs, develop a common fact base, and identify opportunities for improvement. The outcome of the study was the basis of the Governor's legislative agenda. Itasca has also played a brokering role among a group of the critical players in early childhood to identify and address gaps and overlaps and to develop a common change agenda. Read the report here.