R. T. Rybak
Mayor Rybak's connection to the Partnership began after he took office in January 2002, but his interest in the Phillips neighborhood long predates the recent mayoral election. His connection to Phillips has its roots in his childhood, when his parents owned a drug store in the neighborhood. As Mayor Rybak recalls, “I spent many evenings and weekends at the store, eating dinner at the Chef Café and delivering prescriptions. The neighborhood shared a real sense of integration and community-building in that era. Unfortunately, that dynamic began to erode following the freeway construction in the 1960s, which has challenged the community’s sense of connectedness and vitality.”
In the years prior to assuming public office, Mayor Rybak gained significant experience in business development while still devoting substantial energy to community activism. At the time he was elected, he was a business consultant with a variety of clients. In the late 1980s, he served as the first director of development for the Down-town Council, where he raised private funds to bring new companies to the city, worked to retain small businesses and artists displaced by development, and helped bring the Farmer’s Market to Nicollet Mall. Mayor Rybak also spent much of his career in journalism, serving as the publisher of the Twin Cities Reader and working as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune in the late ’70s and ’80s. The Mayor has a long and varied history of community service, which has run the gamut from service on the boards of non-profits to coaching Little League and leading a Cub Scout troop.
Mayor Rybak has long been a champion of comprehensive, far-sighted urban planning that -incorporates environmental stew-ard-ship, transit solutions that promote independence from the automobile, and affordable housing. Indeed, the Mayor has made affordable housing one of his top priorities, and he finds this aspect of the Phillips Partnership’s work particularly compelling. As he puts it, “The Partnership’s housing initiatives in Phillips present an excellent means of achieving some of the goals I have set for my administration.”
The Mayor’s business experience and public service make him keenly aware of the potential for innovation and success inherent to the public-private partnership model. “I have witnessed firsthand the effectiveness of a dynamic, entrepreneurial business approach to solving problems,” says Rybak. “The Phillips Partnership is a prime example of how we should move energetically, across the sectors, to strengthen our neighborhoods. It offers a remarkable formula for progress, and a great opportunity to work on the issues that matter to the City.” The Phillips Partnership’s ability to leverage public and private investment is especially attractive, given the City’s current budget challenges. “My job as Mayor is to find ways to do more with less,” he says, “and partnerships between government and the private sector are critical to achieving that.”
Mayor Rybak has deep personal roots in the Phillips neighborhood. His role as the leader of the City, his personal ties to the community, and his experience in business development all combine to make him a welcome addition to the Phillips Partnership.
As he puts it, “Despite its current challenges, the Phillips community, with its rich history and wealth of diversity, is a great asset to the City, and I embrace the chance to join the Partnership’s efforts to foster the neighborhood’s revitalization.”