Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read August 2021 — The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is dedicated to promoting business recruitment, expansion and trade and workforce and community development. Commissioner Steve Grove spoke with Invest: about moving beyond challenges of the past year and attracting new businesses to the state.
How did the past year play out in terms of addressing the challenges that emerged?
One of the unique things about Minnesota is that during the pandemic, we were living in the only state in the nation with a divided legislature. Despite those differences, this is a state that came together to help businesses get through the pandemic. We passed several multimillion-dollar business aid packages for small businesses across the state that were struggling. We had an unemployment insurance system that stood up to the test of hundreds of thousands of workers who needed it as their lifeline during a challenging time. We were one of the first states to implement all of the federal programs quickly because we were efficient and had an effective system in place to help workers navigate a difficult moment. We worked closely with businesses, consulting directly on a weekly basis to navigate business restrictions and COVID-mitigation measures.
In Minnesota, we have a functioning government that can get things done. We are a state that balanced health and economic considerations throughout the pandemic and because of that, we were ranked among the top states in the nation in vaccine distribution speeds. We’re small enough to be a place where business owners and government leaders know each other personally and can work together, and yet big enough to host the biggest companies in the country.
What industries have experienced the most growth in recent years?
We have a diverse economy. Our hospitality, art and entertainment industries took a hit in the past year but those are also the sectors that are coming back the fastest. Our unemployment rate is ticking down and people are getting back to work. This is a state where you can start a company in almost any sector and immediately have customers waiting to work with you. We have a strong retail environment and strong healthcare, medtech and food-processing industries. We’re seeing growth in cybersecurity and fintech. Minnesota has the highest business survivability rates of any state in the nation. We also have a lot of talent and the employees to help grow a business.
What business segments are you looking to grow and what steps are you taking to attract those new businesses?
We are bullish on the medtech sector and medical technology in general. We operate from that strength with the Mayo Clinic, and we have seen Google open their office in Rochester to work closely with Mayo. This is an example of a national technology company wanting to be where medical innovation happens. We have a huge economic development program in Rochester called Destination Medical Center, allowing the flow of millions of state dollars into the city to develop it into the country’s premier headquarters for the medical community. We think we have a shot there given the presence of Mayo and our other partners in Rochester.
We are also bullish on our startup ecosystem, especially on B2B, software, food, retail and agritech. There is no better market for startups in those spaces given that companies instantly have a density of companies and customers to work with right away. We have a program called Launch Minnesota that helps incentivize early-stage founders to start something new, and to encourage venture dollars to flow into startups through a generous Angel Tax Credit program. Launch Minnesota provides a host of grants, educational resources and other programs that help early-stage companies thrive.
What is your near-term outlook?
I think 2021 is going to be a year of recovery and workers are navigating opportunities in the market in a lot of different ways. We want to take advantage of the record number of new businesses starting in Minnesota. That always happens after recessions, but we want to encourage that and ensure there are as many new business startups succeeding as possible. We are focused on inclusive economic growth and making sure the path forward for workers and businesses in our state provides for everybody. This is a huge priority as we look at the kinds of things the government can do to bring businesses into our state along with our partners in the private sector. We learned a lot during the pandemic because we had to act in unique ways. We don’t want to lose the spirit of collaboration that the pandemic inspired between business and government. We want this to be the best state to build a company that matters and create a life for your family.
For more information, visit: https://mn.gov/deed/