A group of business leaders from the Twin Cities metropolitan area heard about the opportunities and challenges presented by China’s market at the China Business Roundtable Luncheon on Oct. 8 in Minneapolis. The purpose was to continue strengthening ties between the Minnesota Center China and the local business community.
Personal income in Minnesota plunged during the Great Recession, driven by a combination of job losses, reduced work hours, delayed raises, wage cuts and other factors. Many of those factors have reversed direction since then, helping to boost real per capita income over the last three years.
We’ve seen much evidence in recent months of a recovering economy in Minnesota. The unemployment rate is at a five-year low, requests for jobless benefits continue to slide and the state’s gross domestic product is among the fastest growing in the country.
The Minnesota unemployment rate and job figures get a lot of attention when they are announced on the third Thursday of every month, frequently attracting front-page newspaper coverage statewide. Reporters and economists analyze the numbers and interpret what they say about the economy. While there are plenty of other ways to look at our economic performance, the monthly unemployment rate and job figures are arguably the most closely watched barometer in Minnesota.
Think of northwestern Minnesota as the state’s sugar bowl.
Abundant ag resources – from wheat to sugar beets – fuel the region’s thriving food processing industry. Sugar beets make a substantial contribution to the Minnesota-North Dakota economy. Standout food manufacturing firms include American Crystal, Dean Foods and Lamb Weston which together employ nearly 1,500 people.
Manufacturing is king in central Minnesota.
More than 28,000 people work in manufacturing in the region, making everything from gears to soaps to engines. Major companies include New Flyer (buses), Cold Spring Granite (stone products) and American Crystal Sugar (food products).
Twenty-two members of the Chicago International Trade Commissioner’s Association (CITCA), focused on opportunities and partnerships in the life sciences sector, were in the Twin Cities on Sept. 17-18, hosted by the Minnesota Trade Office.
CITCA comprises trade representatives from foreign governments that are based in Chicago. CITCA members representing Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Flanders, France, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico and South Africa participated in the Minnesota biosciences tour.
Southwestern Minnesota is the breadbasket of the state, producing 700 million bushels of corn, 140 million bushels of soybeans, 10 million turkeys and 5.5 million hogs annually. The region has nearly 26,000 farms generating more than $6.5 billion worth of commodities each year.
But farming is only part of the story in this remarkably diverse 27-county region.