Richard Copeland does not run a nonprofit foundation trying to change the world. He leads Thor Construction, the largest minority-owned business in the state of Minnesota and one of the largest black-owned businesses in the country. Yet he wants to do something about north Minneapolis.
Copeland has seen his share of proposals and attempts over the years to boost the economy there, given it has long been Minneapolis’s poorest corner. But after years of seeing scant progress, he’s decided to take action by moving two of his companies—Thor and its sister company Thor Sustainability—to north Minneapolis. (Another company, Copeland Truc-King, will remain in Fridley.)
“If we don’t step up and do something about it, we don’t think anybody else will,” says Copeland, who grew up in both north and south Minneapolis in the 1950s and ’60s. “Someone’s got to take this on, and it’s the private sector that’s going to make the difference. It’s got to be driven by economics.”
Copeland is still putting the details together and declined to identify the site where he will locate his businesses. But if all goes as planned, he could be open for business on the North Side by the end of 2017. He’s planning to build from the ground up. “We’re pursuing a major development,” he says.
The move marks the largest relocation of a company to north Minneapolis in recent memory. For 2015, Thor Construction had revenue of $151 million. Copeland estimates the companies moving to north Minneapolis employ about 150, but notes that about half his staff works on job sites rather than an office.
The relocation comes at a critically important time for Minneapolis and the state…
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