By Doug Loon
Minnesota has the tools to lead the nation in economic change and growth with tremendous workforce and innovation strengths, according to our annual Minnesota Business Benchmarks. Yet the state lags in many key economic indicators, partly due to self-imposed headwinds.
Those are the chief takeaways of the third annual report produced by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and our local Chamber Federation partners. Click here for the full Business Benchmarks report.
Positioning Minnesota for a prosperous future requires preventive maintenance borne from awareness and informed conversation on our state’s economic strengths and challenges. To be certain, it’s tough to evaluate Minnesota’s economy by following the state’s disparate performance in national business rankings. How can we be CNBC’s third best state for business, yet 47th in the Small Business Policy Index.
That makes the clarity of our Business Benchmarks especially timely and valuable. By aggregating objective data measuring Minnesota’s health and competitiveness against other states, we can build on our many strengths and mitigate notable threats.
Among the key findings:
- Minnesota continues to shine in innovation. This success should be used as a catalyst to close the gap with other states on entrepreneurship and start-up activity.
- Our workforce continues to be one of Minnesota’s greatest assets. Working to close the achievement gap and keeping an open door to incoming talent will continue to fuel economic growth.
- Minnesota’s tax environment threatens our other competitive advantages. Working to lower rates and simplify the tax structure will make other elements of our business climate even more inviting to grow jobs and our economy for the long term.
- Minnesota’s affordable cost of living helps recruit and retain talent. Reining in other everyday business costs will help employers maintain a healthy bottom line and compete into the future.
Business Benchmarks provides an excellent springboard for our legislative agenda to grow our state’s economy. We encourage policymakers and business leaders to use the report to spark meaningful conversations on how to impr0ve Minnesota’s position in key business and economic climate rankings.
Minnesota is a homegrown economy built on innovation. We are home to 17 Fortune 500 companies and the largest privately held company in the nation. Almost all of them started and succeeded here. That’s a big deal, and we cannot stand on our laurels. We need public policies that encourage continued change and growth of businesses of all sizes.
Business Benchmarks helps us set a course for adopting policies that will propel the state’s economy forward and sustain our cherished quality of life. We look to policymakers in St. Paul to understand our statewide business climate, support policies that facilitate change and encourage job growth, and remove barriers to long-term economic success. If we lead from ahead, we will remain there.
Doug Loon is president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce – www.mnchamber.com.