As most Twin Cities residents know, construction for the long-discussed Central Corridor Light Rail project is now underway, with the line expected to be completed sometime in 2014. While hopes are high that the billion-dollar project will bring great benefits to both Minneapolis and St. Paul, the construction phase is disrupting business as usual for many retailers along the route.
Dr. Dave Brennan, Professor of Marketing and Co-Director of the Institute for Retailing Excellence in the Opus College of Business, recently commented on the business impacts of the light rail line in an interview with the Pioneer Press. He believes that the long-term benefits of the new transit corridor will be positive for local businesses, but that unfortunately some small businesses may not survive the disruption of business during the construction period.
Minnpost.com highlighted the actions that Central Corridor businesses are taking to combat the disruptions from construction. Loyalty cards, discounts, and other perks are being used to lure new customers and keep existing ones visiting local businesses. The Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce has also instituted a marketing campaign to promote Central Corridor businesses called "Discover Central Corridor."
In a related story, the Star Tribune reported that the light rail could physically damage the Capitol building in downtown St. Paul. Apparently sections of the marble on the building, installed over a century ago, could loosen and fall due to vibrations from the light rail trains passing nearby. The legislature has not yet decided whether or not to allocate funds to strengthen the structural integrity of the Capitol, or to defer repairs until after the Central Corridor light rail opens.