The Light Rail Transit (LRT) plays an important role in fostering connections, providing easy and affordable access to areas such as the two cities of Minneapolis and St Paul, the Mall of America, and the Minneapolis/ St Paul International Airport. Transit-oriented development along the light rail translated into hundreds of new housing units — including million-dollar condos, market-rate apartments and low-income housing that cater to the region’s increasing population. The Corridor Development Initiative (CDI) helped the development of the LRT by coordinating and facilitating processes that brings together all interested parties — governing agencies, developers, and neighborhood and community interests.

The Light Rail Transit

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Local/global connections are firmly established through airports with international connections. The Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport serves twenty non-stop international markets. According to Phil Burke, Director of MSP Operations, efforts to celebrate the area’s diverse cultural roots as well as enable visitors to learn more about the region, include exhibit spaces that feature works by local artists, renovated bathrooms whose walls are adorned with Minnesota imagery, mosaic floors that showcase Minnesota’s character and natural landscape, as well as an international fair.

Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The number of immigrants and their descendants in Denmark has been slowly rising and as of the third quarter of 2019, there are around 350,000 immigrants and 150,000 children of immigrants from non-western countries and 250,000 immigrants and 30,000 children of immigrants from western countries. Polish immigrants held the highest number at around 40,000, followed by Syria at around 35,000 and Turkey at around 30,000. The diverse neighborhood of Norrebro includes many small businesses that cater to the city’s immigrant populations.

Supporting diverse businesses


Rice Street Gardens have become a cultural meeting place for the immigrant populations living in Roseville–26.2% of the city’s population is now people of color, including many new immigrants. The 250 garden plots are used predominantly by Nepali, Hmong, and Karen refugees living in Roseville, Maplewood, and St. Paul. Accustomed to growing their own food, the gardens provide the refugee and immigrant residents with a sense of home, access to healthy foods, and exercise opportunities. Studies have long revealed the mental and physical benefits of gardening (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017; Van Den Berg & Custers, 2011; Wang & MacMillan, 2013). Potlucks occur throughout the growing season and act as a means  for residents to share diverse foodways. Fees are kept low and community partners provide necessary resources like land, water, and financial support.  

Rice Street Gardens

Roseville, Minnesota

Photo credit: Sherry Sanders from Rice Street Gardens

Bemidji is the central hub of the Red Lake Indian Reservation, White Earth Indian Reservation, and the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. In 2010, the Sanford Center opened and has become the center of social, cultural and recreational events in Bemidji and the surrounding regional community. In 2015, community members organized the historic Bemijigamaag Powwow at the Sanford Center, attended by over 3,500 community members. The three Tribal Nations were involved, as well as city and state officials including Governor Mark Dayton, facilitating conversations between Native and non-Native community members as well as leaders of the tribes, city, and state. “These are all things that have been helping to build race relations in our community. That’s not to say that we’re done. It’s an on-going process,” reflects Mayor Albright.

Sanford Center

Bemidji, Minnesota

Photo credit:

Every July, Worthington holds their International Festival, a weekend of international craft artisans, entertainment, and food at the Nobles County Government Center lawn in the downtown city core. Founded in 1993, the festival aims to promote cultural acceptance by reducing fear of the unknown (MISSION). The International Festival highlights the diverse communities in Worthington and helps to foster positive relationships among the many ethnic and racial groups in the city. In 2018, the Festival expanded to include stories of past and recent immigrants through a panel discussion about the economic factors affecting immigrants in the community. And the World Cup Soccer Championship Final was turned into a fundraiser at a local coffee shop to help local immigrant families with legal fees.

International Festival

Worthington, Minnesota

Photo credit: Cheniqua Johnson from Worthington International Festival

The global innovation company, 3M employs over 500 individuals at its Woodbury location, many of whom are Asian immigrants. Close to 14.7% of the residents in Maplewood identify as Asian, the largest racial group after White. The jobs at 3M tend to be upper-end tech positions. Woodbury is well positioned to support these high-earner immigrants and their families through its diverse housing stock, high-performing school district, and well-maintained and connected parks and trails system.

3M Influence

Woodbury, Minnesota

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The Midtown Global Market’s mission is to “build upon the economic, social and cultural assets within the surrounding communities and welcome the diverse peoples of this community to share and celebrate together the healthy foods, arts, crafts and other aspects of their heritage.” Housing over fifty vendors, it is one of the largest indoor, internationally-themed public markets in the area. Prominently located on Lake Street, the market establishes the area as a “global gateway.” The slogan “Many Tastes, One Place” perfectly represents the unique experiences of food, shopping, entertainment, and play space.

Midtown Global Market

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Located in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis, Karmel Square Somali Mall houses over150 Somali businesses, acting as a global gateway. Nearly always bustling with activity, the Somali Mall is comprised of two buildings that house food vendors, clothing stores, tailors, shoe shiners, and cell phone shops (Eveland, 2014). Two prayer areas are also found here to support the religious needs of Muslim Somalis, including the largest mosque in the state. Many of the businesses are run by women, providing them and their families with opportunities for financial independence.

Karmel Square Somali Mall

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) mission is to “enrich the community by collecting, preserving, and making accessible outstanding works of art from the world’s diverse cultures.” Engagement with the diverse cultural groups of the region translates into galleries in which all members of the community can relate to and find ways to connect to their past and heritage. These galleries range from the newly renovated African Galleries to the Tibetan Yamantaka Mandala created by monks of the Gyuto Tantric University while in  residence at the MIA, the first of its kind to be made permanent through a collaboration with 3M. Cultural sensitivity carries through the installation of exhibits, such as Native American shields which according to tradition, should not be facing each other.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis, Minnesota