In its 2013 session, the Minnesota Legislature directed the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to fund research at the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies (CTS), including research on "transportation policy and economic competitiveness, including, but not limited to, innovative transportation finance options and economic development, transportation impacts of industry clusters and freight, and transportation technology impacts on economic competitiveness." 

The Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness Program was created in response to this directive.

Program focus and anticipated outcomes

This research seeks to further define and promote the relationship between transportation and economic development in Minnesota and the region.  The overall focus of the program is to investigate how innovations in transportation can contribute to economic competitiveness. The program engages in research, outreach and other related activities that focus on the following topics and their impact on economic competitiveness:

  • Innovative transportation finance options – developing a comprehensive transportation finance data base for Minnesota and examining transportation finance alternatives.
  • Industry clusters – examining the role of transportation infrastructure investments and policies on the economic competitiveness of Minnesota's industry clusters and supply chains.
  • Transportation technologies – examining policy issues involving new and emerging technologies such as self-driving cars.

While it is accepted that an adequate transportation system is necessary to promote economic development, this work seeks to further articulate how improvements in technology, finance, and industry cluster strategies can impact the region. The results should positively affect the methods that MnDOT and its partners use to engage stakeholders, analyze investments and approach programming.  Ultimately, all users of Minnesota's transportation system should benefit through a more efficient and productive transportation system that is a key contributor to the economic vitality of the state and the region.