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

Principal Investigator(s):

Matthew Schmit, 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 the Minnesota Department of Transportation's (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. The proposed project will replicate the process in MnDOT's District 2. To achieve this goal, the proposed research has the following objectives: 1) employ a regional industry cluster approach to identify key industries and manufacturers in the District; 2) work with MnDOT, 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) analyze and present the data to MnDOT and other key decision-makers at various meetings and forums; and 4) work with MnDOT and Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) staff to prepare a report that documents the process and recommendations such that they can be replicated in other districts. As of March 31, 2017, the work in District 2 had been completed and the report published on the 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 September 2017, the District 1 work is complete and interviews have started in District 6.

Project details:

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