innovative cities minneapolis 3

June saw the opening of a new light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul. Experts from around the country praised it as an example of transportation infrastructure done right -- it integrated the needs of the affected communities and used the new line to drive economic development.

The Twin Cities were early adopters of programs to help immigrants start businesses, artists buy real estate, and enlist local execs in solving community problems.

The cities also get high marks for their public health efforts, including smoking cessation programs, cancer screening and efforts to create walkable communities. (Photo: Jim Kruger/Getty) --S.H.

Loans empower immigrant entrepreneurs

First published October 7, 2014: 1:15 AM ET