May 12, 2024 - News

Breaking the "Minnesota ice"

A group of people at a brewery stand around talking

A Break the Bubble mixer at BlackStack Brewing in St. Paul. The twice-monthly events regularly draw 100+ people looking to make new friends. Photo: Kyle Stokes/Axios

As a newcomer, you may have already heard an old joke: If you want to make friends in Minnesota, go to kindergarten.

The big picture: You have arrived in a community with a reputation as a difficult place to make new social connections — especially as a transplant.

Why it matters: We love Minnesota. We want you to love it, too — and for that to happen, it's important that you connect with the people here.

  • On top of that, employers want you to stay! There aren't enough native Minnesotans to fill the region's jobs and "meet the demand of the economic opportunity that's here," Matt Lewis of the Greater MSP Partnership told Axios.

Context: Lewis and Greater MSP, an economic development organization with both public and private backing, have interviewed and surveyed hundreds of newcomers.

Reality check: It's hard to make friends as an adult in almost any city, but are Minnesotans "uniquely bad at that? I don't think so," said Lewis.

  • Lewis asserted it's probably just as hard in the Twin Cities as most other Midwestern cities, which — unlike D.C., New York or Los Angeles — don't have as many super-dense transplant populations looking for new connections.

"It's super awkward," Lewis said of making friends as an adult. "Like, 'how do I do the playground thing at, like, 27?'"

By the numbers: Overall, three out of five transplants feel welcome in the Twin Cities, according to a 2019 Greater MSP survey — but specific answers varied.

  • Black respondents were less likely to feel embraced: 28% reported feeling unwelcome.
  • Midwesterner transplants were more likely to feel welcome than others, especially those from the Northeast.

Between the lines: Lewis said most newcomers decide whether they're staying in Minnesota — or leaving for good — after 18-24 months.


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