How Minnesota became the Land of 10,000 Startups

Friday, December 07, 2018

Minnesota is no stranger to big business. It’s home to such names as Target, Best Buy, General Mills, and Ecolab — all of which have made their homes in Minnesota for generations and have become a source of pride. But a new industry — technology — is taking Minnesota by storm, boosting the local economy and putting the state on the global map once again. Minnesota has long been known for its high standard of living, agriculture industry, and flourishing community of performing arts. But over the past decade the Twin Cities area has made great strides to become a forward-thinking...
The University of Minnesota’s craziest, most interesting innovations

Thursday, December 06, 2018

The University of Minnesota is a research giant. Sure, most colleges and universities have an active team of researchers, but few institutions churn out inventions at the same rate as the U. Last year, the U was named by the National Science Foundation as one of the nation’s top 10 research institutions. A report released by the university in late 2017 estimates that it has had an $8.6 billion impact on Minnesota, and that its inventions generated more than $320 million for the state between 2009 and 2015. Simply put, the University of Minnesota is, and always has been, at the heart of the state’s...
An Enterprise of Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Entrepreneurs, makers and artists networked with DEED representatives from the Offices of Small Business Assistance, Business Finance, Business Development, Small Business Development Centers, Minnesota Trade Office and Unemployment Insurance to learn about technical support and financing programs DEED offers that help get startups up and running.  DEED’s Startup open house, held Oct. 9 at the First National Bank Building in St. Paul, competed with some major Startup Week events taking place that morning, such as Manova Global Summit and specialized tracks in FinTech and Food Ag Ideas. Startup Week program attendees had twice as many events to choose from this year, compared to...
Three Greater Minnesota cities awarded infrastructure grants funding will support improvements in Jackson, St. Joseph and Faribault

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

ST. PAUL – Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded just over $2.35 million in grants to infrastructure projects in the Greater Minnesota area. The funding awarded from DEED’s Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program(BDPI) was approved for the cities of Jackson, St. Joseph and Faribault. It is expected to create an additional 166 full-time jobs and prepare these cities for future growth. “These grants demonstrate how state government and the private sector can collaborate to create greater opportunity and continued economic growth throughout Minnesota,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “Working together these business expansions will support vibrant communities and create...
DEED launches tool to measure, report broadband access

Monday, December 03, 2018

Check Speed Minnesota will give insight into consumer experience, inform policymakers ST PAUL - The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development, located within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), today launched a new tool that will allow Minnesotans to test, map and report various broadband internet speeds across the state. CheckSpeedMinnesota.com is a benchmarking tool designed to gather information about the high-speed internet consumer experience in Minnesota. By answering a few questions and running a speed test, the input captured will help create a better overall picture of broadband in the state. “The Minnesota Office of Broadband Development is charged by law...
Realty check: Broadband sells

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A common theme among realtors within the area is lost sales due to a lack of adequate broadband, Economic Development Coordinator Ross Wagner told Aitkin County commissioners during its meeting on Sept. 11. Wagner said, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was finding out that we are losing potential residents due to the lack of broadband in the area.”   The county was recently awarded an IRRRB matching grant, enabling it to award both SCI Broadband Inc and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative an Aitkin County Broadband Development Grant of $150,000 each. With this award, a total of 738 homes and two businesses...
Rochester, Twin Cities ranked among most innovative on earth

Monday, November 12, 2018

ROCHESTER, MN — Innovation isn't easy. Case in point, your kids have heard of Netflix and Facebook, but will give you a blank look if you talk about Blockbuster or MySpace, two companies routinely listed among the biggest to fail specifically because they didn't innovate. So when we say three Minnesota cities were just ranked among the most innovative on Earth, it's — with apologies to Ron Burgundy and the movie "Anchorman" — kind of a big deal. The Australian data research company 2thinknow, which crunches numbers from cities across the globe, released its 11th annual Innovation Cities Index rankings of the...
How are we doing? Minnesota near top of 'best economy' states

Friday, November 09, 2018

A ranking of state economies using metrics like poverty rate, home ownership, job growth and education puts Minnesota ahead of California (and, more important, Wisconsin).  USA Today reports on the listing, compiled by financial site 24/7 Wall Street. Minnesota comes in No. 7 overall, just behind Hawaii. The state scored points for its low unemployment rate (3.1 percent at the time of the survey), GDP annual growth rate of 1.7 percent (the 14th best in the list) and an especially high home ownership rate of 71.3 percent. The top-ranked states overall were Colorado, Utah and Massachusetts. Louisiana, Alaska and West Virginia came in last. Continue...
Innovation Voucher Award Program

Friday, November 09, 2018

Financial Awards Give Small Businesses Access to Technical Assistance The Innovation Voucher Award Program provides $5,000 to $25,000 awards to help small businesses purchase technical assistance and services necessary to advance research, development or commercialization of new or innovative products and services. Qualifying businesses receive awards – which the recipient must match on a 50 percent basis – to reimburse for expenses incurred for assistance and services rendered by public universities, colleges, technical schools and non-profits in Minnesota. Reimbursable expenses include purchased technical assistance and services in research, technical development, product development, commercialization, market development, technology exploration, and improved business practices, including strategies to...
Aitkin Action Alliance: Strategy for success

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Last year, the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee partnered with APEX to form the Aitkin Action Alliance. A strategic plan was formed, and a business outreach program began. Local areas of opportunity and strength were identified and built upon to drive investment in the region. During the committee’s meeting on Sept. 12, APEX Business Developer Tamara Lowney gave an update on the strategic plan. Target areas addressed by the strategic plan are: workforce, support existing businesses, brand and marketing plan, beyond the status quo, industrial park, training-entrepreneur, recreation-hospitality, attraction, housing and legislative. “The success of the plan is heavily...
More Minnesotans are working past 65

Monday, October 29, 2018

NUMBER PROJECTED TO INCREASE WITH FUTURE GENERATIONS DULUTH — Sixty-five came and went, and Marcia Gurno didn’t bat an eye. “As long as I feel like I’m still making a contribution, and as long as my mind is sharp and I’m still willing to learn and be open to new ideas, and my body holds out — that’s my order for how I look at retirement.” The St. Louis County social worker turns 67 in November and has no plans to stop punching the clock anytime soon. “People expect me to show up and perform, and it keeps me going.” She’s not alone — both...
MnDOT announces availability of competitive grants for community transportation projects

Friday, October 26, 2018

Minnesota communities, schools and their partners are invited to apply for funding on local projects that enhance transportation goals, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. For the 2018-19 application cycle, MnDOT is conducting a joint solicitation for the Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes to School State Infrastructure programs. Applicants submit a single letter of intent to be considered for both programs. A regional representative will contact applicants to help review the project proposal and the steps necessary for delivering a funded project. Applicants will then submit a full grant application. A total of $6.5 million is available in federal funding through...
Minnesota Manufacturing Week

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed Oct. 1-7, 2018 as Minnesota Manufacturing Week. Because manufacturing is a vital part of Minnesota’s economic health. One in nine jobs in Minnesota is in manufacturing – and these tend to be high-quality jobs that pay well. The average manufacturing job paid $65,728 in 2017. That’s over $9,500 – about 17 percent – higher than the typical job in Minnesota. “Manufacturing plays a critical role in the growth of Minnesota’s economy, providing access to high-quality, high-wages jobs,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. Manufacturing contributed $49.2 billion to the state’s economy (Gross Domestic Product) in 2017. Minnesota has 319,000 jobs...
In Southwest Minnesota, food manufacturing brings much to the table

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Southwest Minnesota accounts for nearly one-fourth of the food manufacturing jobs in the state. Chew on this: Southwest Minnesota is home to 109 food manufacturing establishments providing more than 13,000 jobs and $571.5 million in annual payroll. That is nearly 25 percent of the state’s total employment in food manufacturing, making it one of the region’s most distinguishing industries. In 2017, food manufacturing was nearly four times more concentrated in Southwest Minnesota than the state as a whole. Not surprisingly, Southwest also has several other agriculture-related industries that are more concentrated in the region than the rest of the state: animal production...
DEED awards $2.16 million for redevelopment projects

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Eight blighted sites targeted for cleanup and redevelopment ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded $2.16 million in grants and loans for eight redevelopment projects in Minnesota.  The agency awarded seven grants under its Redevelopment Grant Program for projects in Battle Lake, Edina, Fridley, Mankato, Minneapolis (two) and Winona. In addition, DEED approved a loan from its Demolition Loan Program for a project in Braham. The projects will create or retain 1,822 jobs and increase local tax bases by $2.6 million. “Redevelopment grants and loans are a good taxpayer investment, with the latest round of projects attracting $151.8 million...
County leadership discuss change, challenges, vision

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Association of Minnesota Counties strategic planning workshop was held at Long Lake Conservation Center on Aug. 21. Workshop discussion focused on defining the core values, and reviewing the mission statement and vision of Aitkin County. In a group discussion led by Education Director Heather Bandeen, county leadership spoke about external and internal challenges faced by the organization from the perspectives of each department. “I want you to think about the challenges that are happening statewide,” Bandeen said. Responses ranged from changes in technology, need for training, retaining and recruiting staff, economic development and public communication. Continue to full article
Minnesota exports at record $5.9 billion in second quarter

Friday, October 05, 2018

Exports grew 15 percent between the second quarters of 2017 and 2018 ST. PAUL – Sales of Minnesota agricultural, mining and manufactured exports grew 15 percent to a second quarter record of $5.9 billion, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Minnesota represents the 11th largest gain in exports nationwide for this period. U.S. exports as a whole were up 11 percent, with 43 states reporting increased export sales. It is unknown whether countermeasures on U.S. exports had any impact on these statistics. Countermeasures were implemented in June and July by Canada, Mexico, China, and the European...
Minnesota looking to attract 'mass timber' producers

Thursday, October 04, 2018

A burgeoning industry based on a relatively new type of material may be coming to Minnesota. Known as mass timber, the material is an alternative to steel in building construction. While dozens of buildings constructed with the product are dotted around the country, the majority stand in the Pacific Northwest. "This type of building product is new to the U.S.," said Brian Brashaw, a program manager with the U.S. Forest Service. "It's geared at taller buildings; it's building more along the lines of four, five and six stories. That product is seeing a lot of growth in the United States." Now, local groups...
Helping startups succeed—and stay—in the Midwest

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

At the University of Minnesota, launching a new company is one of several ways that breakthrough research can move beyond the lab to benefit the public. But finding the right leader, with the right experience, to bring these new technologies to market can be difficult. “Leadership is just as important as intellectual property to a startup’s success,” said Mary MacCarthy, Venture Center program manager with the U’s Venture Center in the Office for Technology Commercialization. “The biggest challenge the U of M has with launching our startups is finding skilled, available CEOs with experience in particular industries.” A new network comprising 11...
Number of women-owned businesses increased nearly 3,000% since 1972, according to new research

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Eighth Annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, Commissioned by American Express, Finds Women Are Starting an Average of 1,821 Net New U.S. Businesses a Day Number of Firms Owned by Minority Women Has Grown by Nearly 3 Times That of All Women-Owned Firms Over the Past 11 Years NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018, according to analysis in the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express (NYSE:AXP). This level of new business formation by women is greater than the daily average during the pre-recession period...
Innovation Voucher Award Program

Friday, September 28, 2018

Financial Awards Give Small Businesses Access to Technical Assistance The Innovation Voucher Award Program provides $5,000 to $25,000 awards to help small businesses purchase technical assistance and services necessary to advance research, development or commercialization of new or innovative products and services. Qualifying businesses receive awards – which the recipient must match on a 50 percent basis – to reimburse for expenses incurred for assistance and services rendered by public universities, colleges, technical schools and non-profits in Minnesota. Reimbursable expenses include purchased technical assistance and services in research, technical development, product development, commercialization, market development, technology exploration, and improved business practices, including strategies to...
Twin Metals Minnesota names Osborne CEO

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kelly Osborne has been named chief executive at Twin Metals Minnesota. Osborne returns to TMM after previously working with Duluth Metals starting in July 2012, including serving as CEO of TMM from 2014-2015. He has more than 30 years of experience in the mining industry, including underground operation. Devoted to the outdoors and northern Minnesota adventures, Osborne’s leadership values, the company said,  are consistent with TMM’s commitment to design an environmentally responsible underground mine that protects our wilderness, natural environment, and recreational and cultural resources. His industry expertise will be a valuable asset in ensuring our project meets or exceeds environmental regulations. TMM...
Entrepreneur Fund, Great River Energy combine resources

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Entrepreneur Fund and Great River Energy (GRE) are partnering to distribute $1 million of loan financing in rural areas. The money is being provided through Great River’s revolving loan fund and will be available for projects that are served by one of GRE’s electric cooperatives. They include Arrowhead Electric, Cooperative Light & Power, East Central Energy, Lake Country Power, Mille Lacs Energy and North Itasca Electric Cooperative.  The Entrepreneur Fund – which offers consulting, programming, training and small business financing up to $750,000 – will work with borrowers and guide them through the application process, then service the loans. Entrepreneur Fund...
Daikin plans $40.3 million expansion in Faribault

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Company adding to manufacturing operations, creating 132 jobs ST. PAUL – Commercial HVAC manufacturer Daikin Applied Americas Inc. will create 132 jobs and invest $40.3 million to expand its manufacturing operations in Faribault.  The company said it will buy an existing 300,000-square-foot warehouse and renovate the building into a state-of-the-art production facility. The new jobs will be created within five years and pay wages that average $22.20 an hour. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is supporting the project with a $750,000 loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund and a $1.6 million grant from the Job Creation Fund. The company will...
County to apply for grant to fund more broadband

Monday, August 20, 2018

Aitkin County may have an opportunity to increase its broadband funding through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB) community infrastructure grant. Upon recommendation from Economic Development Coordinator Ross Wagner, the board approved submitting an application for the IRRRB grant during its regular meeting on July 24. Last year, the county dedicated $450,000 for a three-year Aitkin County Broadband Development Grant, to be funded at $150,000 a year for local projects. This year, SCI Broadband, Inc. and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) submitted applications to the county. The Economic Development Committee recommended the county award its grant to SCI since it will...
Grand opening of new Bell Museum has link to Palisade company

Monday, August 20, 2018

Superior Thermowood of Minnesota’s Palisade wood treatment plant has been processing wood, making specialized parts, and negotiating new markets, all while working to rebuild after a devastating fire in July 2015. The business was open within 13 days of the fire to complete orders for lumber. However, according to owner and manager John Bieganek it’s been an unbelievable challenge for him and his employees, Gene Mejdrich, Vern Bishop, and Greg Kaczor to move forward with all the damage from the fire still so visible around them. Despite the challenges, roughly 360,000 board feet of lumber was processed in 2017. Rising from the...
Broadband initiative success stories shared with Blandin leadership

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Community leaders from Aitkin met with Bernadine Joselyn and Mary Magnuson of Blandin Foundation, and Bill Coleman from Community Technology Resources in Aitkin on July 21. The group met to share success stories and celebrate the first round of Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) success stories. The BBC program is an intensive, two-year partnership between rural Minnesota communities (cities, counties, tribes or other self-identified communities of interest or place) and the foundation. Selected communities work through a proven process to define their technology goals, measure current levels of broadband access and use, and seek technical assistance and resources to meet their goals. Each BBC...
Market value up in county

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The overall estimated market value of Aitkin County is showing its first substantial increase since the 2008 assessment. “This is good for a stable real estate market,” said Assessor Mike Dangers. The Certificates of Real Estate Value (CRV) is filed with the state each time a real property sale of $1,000 or more takes place. CRV volume has increased over 30 percent in the last three years. This is evidence of an active real estate market, Dangers said. Another indication of a healthier market is the number of sheriff sales and sales where banks are the seller continue to decline in the...
MLEC’s Zelenak: ‘Focus is on safety, efficiency, community’

Monday, July 02, 2018

The annual meeting of the Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) at Eddy’s Mille Lacs Lake Resort was attended by 93 members. Minnesota Senator Carrie Ruud attended the meeting briefly, as did David Saggau, CEO of Great River Energy (GRE). GRE is the wholesale supplier of electricity to the cooperative, which is one of 28 different distribution systems supplied by GRE. The full annual audit report of the cooperative’s financial statements can be viewed at the cooperative office. Board election Ballots were counted for the election of MLEC board members. Incumbents Bruce Robinson of Palisade and Michael Reem of Aitkin were elected for...
2019 Final Four to bring $142M, 94,000 visitors to Twin Cities, analysis claims

Friday, June 29, 2018

Event at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2019 will attract 94,000 visitors — and their wallets.  The economic impact estimate is in for the 2019 Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium, so let the debate begin. The number is $142 million. “We didn’t want the biggest number, we wanted the most credible number,” Final Four CEO Kate Mortenson said. The 2019 Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee commissioned the report by Pennsylvania-based Rockport Analytics, the same firm that did the pre-Super Bowl LII estimates and is now analyzing the actual financial gains from the NFL event. Trying to define a community’s financial benefit from hosting a...
Gov. Dayton submits Opportunity Zone Recommendation to U.S. Treasury

Thursday, June 28, 2018

128 census tracts in Minnesota recommended for Opportunity Zone designation Gov. Mark Dayton recommended to the U.S. Department of Treasury 128 low-income census tracts in Minnesota to be designated as Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones are a new economic and community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term economic development and housing investments in low-income communities nationwide. “Expanding access to good jobs and better opportunities has been a top priority for my Administration. These efforts have been especially important in communities that are experiencing continuing economic disparities,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “The Opportunity Zones program provides Minnesota a great...
Pathways to Prosperity awards $17.8 million statewide for 57 workforce training programs

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Workers with employment barriers receive training for in-demand careers The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has awarded 57 grants statewide totaling $17,884,007 under the Minnesota Pathways to Prosperity program. Pathways to Prosperity Competitive Grants fund programs and services designed to provide workforce development and training opportunities to adults in Minnesota experiencing barriers to employment. These programs help job seekers develop increased career awareness, participate in education training and skills-training programs, and connect to employment in high growth, high demand industries with long-term opportunities. "The Pathways to Prosperity initiative plays an essential role in the training of our state's workforce, and...