Photo of Powderhorn Lake on May Day taken by Brian Dunnette
Fifteen years ago, Powderhorn Lake in Minneapolis was in a dismal state — trash floated on the surface, the shoreline was eroding, and fertilizer and animal waste running off from the surrounding neighborhood caused frequent algae blooms.
Years of neglect had taken their toll. Loss of natural vegetation, urbanization of the surrounding area, and increased stormwater runoff had all contributed to a decline in the lake’s water quality. In 2002, the lake was placed on the impaired waters list.
But today, thanks to the efforts of residents, the city and other groups, Powderhorn Lake is a poster child for what can happen when citizens and government work together to create change.
Minnesota recovers all jobs lost from the recession
Minnesota employers added 12,200 jobs in August, pushing total jobs in the state over the pre-recessionary peak that was reached in February 2008, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
The agency said Minnesota has now recovered all the jobs that were lost in the recession, eclipsing the February 2008 mark by 5,100 jobs. The state has added 63,100 jobs in the past year, a 2.3 percent growth rate that exceeds the national rate of 1.7 percent.
The state unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted 5.1 percent, the lowest level since April 2008. The U.S. unemployment rate in August was 7.3 percent.
Joined by Governor Mark Dayton today at the Minnesota State Capitol, Taiwanese trade officials and business leaders signed letters of intent to purchase billions of dollars of agricultural products from farmers in Minnesota and other Midwestern states over the next two years. The Taiwanese delegation plans to purchase up to $3.5 billion of American corn and soybeans in 2014 and 2015. Taiwan is Minnesota’s sixth-largest export market, and a key trading partner for the state’s corn and soybean growers.
“Minnesota farmers produce the highest quality agricultural products in the world,” said Governor Dayton. “Our trade relations with other nations, including Taiwan, are crucial to ensuring that our farmers can sell their products in the global marketplace. I want to thank everyone involved, especially the corn and soybean growers of Minnesota, for their efforts to support strong business relationships, and promote the exchange of goods.”
The Taiwanese delegation, led by Mr. Wen-Deh Chen, Vice Minister of the Taiwan Council of Agriculture, plans to purchase 197 million bushels of U.S. corn and 500,000 metric tons of dried distillers grains (DDGS), valued at an estimated $1.83 billion. The deal also includes the purchase of between 92 million and 99 million bushels of U.S. soybeans valued at an estimated $1.68 billion.
“The U.S. remains one of Taiwan’s largest suppliers of agricultural products, regularly supplying one-fourth of the Island’s total food import needs,” said Mr. Chen. “This visit will help to further-strengthen our bilateral trade relations.”
In January 2013, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson led a trade mission to Taiwan to personally extend an invitation to the 2013 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to visit Minnesota and sign letters of intent to purchase corn and soybeans.
Students who sign up to be part of the Summer Nudging initiative get text messages reminders for college application deadlines
Incoming college students not only face academic challenges, but also often struggle simply to navigate the required paperwork. New students must fill out forms for financial aid, registration, housing, courses, and meal plans. For first-generation college students without a parent or guardian already familiar with the system – the mounting paperwork can present a major barrier to higher education.
To help our incoming college students, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education started its “Summer Nudging” initiative to help guide students through the process. Students who sign up for the program get regular text message reminders with dates and deadlines for critical registration paperwork.
Governor Dayton, Shutterfly executives, and local officials break ground in Shakopee for a new 217,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility that will bring hundreds of new jobs to Minnesota
At a groundbreaking ceremony today, Governor Mark Dayton, Mayor Brad Tabke, other state and local officials, and executives of Shutterfly, Inc. got a picture of what a new 217,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility will look like in Shakopee. The company, based in San Francisco, is expanding its operations to include a manufacturing facility in Minnesota, creating hundreds of new full- and part-time jobs in the state.
"Shutterfly's expansion will bring hundreds of new jobs to Shakopee and Minnesota,” said Governor Dayton, who met with Shutterfly executives earlier this summer in San Francisco. “Great credit goes to the City of Shakopee, Scott County, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and Greater MSP for this tremendous achievement."
The move was aided in part by a loan of up to $1 million from the Minnesota Investment Fund – an incentive tool, which helps the State of Minnesota compete successfully for businesses and the jobs that come with it.
"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Shutterfly to Minnesota,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “Shutterfly ranked ninth in Forbes' fastest growing companies in 2013 and is also ranked as one of the best places to work. Minnesota has the talented and productive workforce to help fuel Shutterfly’s rapid growth."
Governor Dayton and DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben join Toro leaders at their Bloomington, MN Expansion
Minnesota companies are shifting into expansion mode. In the latest example, Toro Co. broke ground today on a 75,000-square-foot expansion project that will bring 50 new corporate jobs and retain nearly 900 jobs at the company’s headquarters in Bloomington.
“Toro is a longtime Minnesota manufacturer that has been operating in the state for 99 years,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “We’re grateful that the company chose Minnesota for latest expansion and congratulate their leadership and employees on all of their success.”
The company, which specializes in manufacturing lawnmowers, snow blowers, leaf blowers and other outdoor equipment, will add a three-story addition on the north side of its headquarters building at Lyndale Avenue South and 82nd Street West.
To assist in the expansion project DEED plans to award Toro a $750,000 forgivable loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund.
The project is the latest in a series of corporate expansions in Minnesota this year. Through the first two quarters, 80 businesses have announced expansion projects that will create more than 2,800 jobs in the state.
According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Minnesota workforce is 2.8 million strong as of July 2013. Minnesotaworks.net held a career fair in November 2012 where community members were able to have their personal resumes critiqued to better prepare them for the job search (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota DEED Facebook page).
Employers relocating to Minnesota often tell DEED’s Business and Community Development representatives that the quality of the workforce is one of the driving factors. But what does quality mean?
Does equality equate with educational attainment? Labor force participation rate? The hard-to quantify — yet frequently heard – tireless work ethic? Rate of absenteeism? The quality of the workforce likely means different things to different employers.
Some look to the state’s labor market participation rate as an indicator that Minnesotans are hard working. We know Minnesota’s labor force participation rate, which measures the proportion of the population age 16 and older that is employed or actively looking for work, is 70.3 percent, the third-highest labor force participation rate nationwide. The U.S rate is 63.7 percent.
This week marks the beginning of the Minnesota State Fair; and Governor Mark Dayton is asking Minnesotans for their ideas to make state government better, faster, and simpler.
At more than a dozen state agency booths across the State Fair, fair-goers will be able to find more information about Governor Dayton’s ‘Unsession’ Agenda, and have an opportunity to provide their suggestions to the Governor. Suggestion boxes will be set up at each state agency booth, and Minnesotans will also be able to submit their Unsession ideas online over the next several weeks. The Governor is asking specifically for ideas for the upcoming 2014 Legislative Session.
The Unsession, proposed by Governor Dayton, will focus on eliminating unnecessary or redundant laws, rules, and regulations, and getting rid of anything else that makes state government nearly impossible for people to understand.
“My request of Minnesotans is simple: send me your Unsession suggestions,” said Governor Dayton. “Send big ideas that could revolutionize how state government operates, or commonsense changes that would eliminate headaches for Minnesotans. I invite every Minnesotan to join in building a better state government that better serves you.”
The Dayton Administration is also asking state employees for their ideas. The Governor sent a personal email to the state’s more than 30,000 state employees this week, asking for their reform ideas and suggestions. Already, nearly 1,200 state employees have registered to participate, and over 300 Unsession suggestions have been collected from state employees in just the first four days.
Improving how state government works has been a hallmark of the Dayton Administration. State employees have already made important reforms that have saved Minnesotans time and money – including changing the way the state pays for health care, reducing expensive and time-consuming paperwork, and creating new online solutions for permit applications. Other examples of improvements achieved over the last several years include reducing the waiting times for vehicle registrations from 90 days to just 10 days, cutting environmental permit waits by over 40 percent, and making hunting and fishing licenses available on smartphones.
Submit Your Unsession Suggestion
If you have a good idea for how to make state government better, faster, or simpler, Governor Dayton wants to hear from you. Over the next three weeks, the Governor will be accepting suggestions online and at the Minnesota State Fair. Your idea might just be the next big reform measure that could save Minnesotans time and money.
To submit your idea, visit any state agency booth at the Minnesota State Fair, or visit the Governor’s Unsession Suggestion website at www.mn.gov/governor/unsession.