The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) recently announced a call for applications from local government authorities for the designation of Transit Improvement Areas (TIAs). Successful applicants will be able to use this designation as leverage in applying for other sources of funding in these difficult economic times. Eligible applicants include statutory or home rule charter cities, counties, and joint powers boards established under Minnesota Statutes, Section 471.59.

The TIA loan program was created by the legislature in 2008 and codified in Minnesota Statutes, Sections 469.35 and 469.351, to designate land parcels within a half mile radius of a bus rapid transit, light rail transit, or commuter rail station. The goal of the program is to increase the effectiveness of transit projects by incorporating one or more public transit modes with commercial, residential, or mixed-use development and by providing for safe and pedestrian-friendly use. Originally intended to be a loan program for eligible expenditures, not including the construction or operating costs of a transit station, the program remains unfunded.

DEED, which has authority to designate TIAs, has initiated this application process with the intent that a designation will allow applicants to leverage and secure financing from other sources, including local public funds, private funds, and regional, state and federal funds. With the recent availability of federal funds targeted at transit projects and sustainable communities, this designation may give applicants an advantage in the competition for funding.

Applications are only encouraged from those applicants actively seeking federal funding or those that find applying will be beneficial for other immediate funding purposes. An applicant must submit a TIA plan that has been adopted by a resolution of the applicant’s governing body. This resolution must also authorize submittal of the application to DEED, as well as the execution of subsequent implementation agreements and contracts.

Qualifying plans must incorporate transit with commercial, residential or mixed-use development, and include the following information:

  • A map indicating the geographic boundaries of the TIA;
  • A description of the project;
  • An analysis of the demographic mix of people who are anticipated to use the transit station;
  • A description of the ownership and intended use of public and private facilities that are to be constructed in the TIA;
  • A description of pedestrian-friendly improvements to be provided;
  • A statement of findings that the redevelopment or development of the TIA promotes higher density land uses resulting in increased transit ridership;
  • A statement of the anticipated sources and amount of local public funds, private funds, and leveraged regional, state and federal funds;
  • A description of the linkages to existing and proposed local, regional and state transit systems; and
  • A description of other factors to increase ridership.

If the TIA plan has a residential component, it must provide a minimum of 12 units per acre or a density bonus that allows for an increase in the number of residential units. Further, if the application is for a proposed transit station, the station must be operational by the year 2020.

If the city where a proposed TIA will be located is not the applicant, then that city’s governing body must also adopt a resolution approving the application and the TIA plan.

DEED’s application deadline is July 16, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. An applicant may seek designation for more than one TIA, but must submit separate applications for each plan. For more information on the application process, as well as information on upcoming DEED workshops on June 3 and June 8, please visit