Understanding Manufacturers' Perspectives on Transportation in Four MnDOT Districts: An Industry Cluster Approach

Principal Investigator(s):

Matthew Schmit, Former Researcher, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Michael Darger, Extension Specialist, UM Extension
  • Frank Douma, Director, State & Local Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Lee Munnich, Senior Fellow (Retired), Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

This project follows work done in 2013 and 2014 in MnDOT's Districts 8 and 4 that employed a qualitative approach (in-person interviews) to obtain a better understanding of the transportation challenges and priorities faced by manufacturers and related industries in the district, and to identify and recommend potential responses to these needs from MnDOT. This project replicated the process in MnDOT's District 2. To achieve this goal, the research had the following objectives: 1) To employ a Regional Industry Cluster approach to identify key industries and manufacturers in the district; 2) To work with MnDOT and Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) staff, and local economic development officers to contact 125-150 specific manufacturers and freight carriers, with a goal of having at least 50 agree to in-person interviews and/or site visits to learn their transportation concerns and ideas for improvement; 3) To analyze and present the data to MnDOT and other key decision makers at various meetings and forums; and 4) To work with MnDOT and MMB staff to prepare a report that documents this process and recommendations, such that it can be replicated in other districts. As of March 31, 2017, the work in District 2 had been completed and the report published on MnDOT website: http://www.dot.state.mn.us/ofrw/mps.html. Key clusters included automotive, wood products, hospitality and tourism, and 68 businesses were interviewed. The success of these previous projects has led to the contract being amended to now cover projects in District 1 (Northeast Minnesota) and District 6 (Southeast Minnesota). As of June 2019, the work was also completed in District 7 (South Central MN).

Project details:

  • Project number: 2016017
  • Start date: 07/2015
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy
  • Topics: Data and modeling, Economics