Transportation Planning to Support Economic Development: An Exploratory Study of Competitive Industry Clusters and Transportation in Minnesota


Lee Munnich, Michael Iacono, Jonathan Dworin, Bethany Brandt-Sargent

January 2015

Report no. MnDOT 2015-02


Economics, Planning

This project seeks to advance the state of knowledge of the relationship between transportation and economic development by investigating how firms in competitive industry clusters use transportation networks and what role the networks play in the formation and growth of these clusters. The approach combines quantitative and qualitative techniques to geographically identify competitive industry clusters and to investigate the role of transportation. The U.S. Cluster Mapping tool is used to identify competitive clusters by employment location quotients in 25 Minnesota metropolitan and micropolitan regions. Twelve competitive clusters were selected for further study, and in-depth interviews and site visits were conducted with businesses in each cluster to explore the competitive importance of different modes of transportation. These methods can yield valuable insights into how transportation functions as an input within competitive industry clusters and how it can inform economic development strategies tailored to certain locations and industries.

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