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Taiwan to purchase $3.5 billion in agricultural products from Minnesota, Midwestern Farmers

Posted on September 13, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Governor Mark Dayton hosts Taiwanese delegation, agricultural trade event at Minnesota State Capitol.

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.



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New Summer Nudging Initiative Increasing College Enrollment

Posted on September 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM
Categories: Education

Students learning in a classroom.

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.


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Picture this: Hundreds of new jobs coming to Shakopee

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM
Categories: Jobs, Economy

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

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."


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Worldwide Equipment Leader Toro Announces Expansion in Bloomington

Posted on September 09, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Economy, Jobs

Governor Dayton joins Toro leaders at their Bloomington Expansion

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.


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Back to School Safety

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Categories: Public Safety

School buses ready for students 
Photo Credit: Flickr user Larry Darling

ST. PAUL — For parents and students, the start of a new school year brings anticipation and excitement. But there are also safety issues to consider. 

Whether students are starting kindergarten, finishing high school, or are away at college, parents are encouraged to make themselves aware of potential dangers and teach their children how to stay safe.
                                                                                                                          
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has compiled a list of issues and tips to help parents. From walking to school to surfing the Internet, kids will be safer if they and their parents abide by a few common-sense principles.

“If you’re providing transportation, access to technology, or any type of guidance to a student of any age, you have the ability to help assure they get safely through the school year,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman. “We’re providing this information because we want to be sure our students learn safety lessons the easy way — from adults who model safe behavior and give them good advice.”

Stay safe online — Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
As children become reacquainted with their peers, they’ll continue classroom conversations online. Sometimes, that includes teasing, humiliating or harassing others. Stop your child from cyberbullying or being a victim by learning the signs and stepping in to deal with the issue. Talk with your child about limiting what they share, including photos, and take steps to help your child be safe online. 
  • Take charge – establish use guidelines for electronic devices and understand the technology you’re bringing into your home.
  • Monitor – use monitoring software to supplement your attention to your child’s Internet use.
  • Communicate – talk with your children about protecting themselves and respecting others online.
  • Go to bca.dps.mn.gov to learn more about cyberbullying and steps you can take to prevent it. Report instances of inappropriate online contact to: www.missingkids.com/cybertipline.


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Minnesota Workforce: Quality and Employment Data

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 2:14 PM
Categories: Jobs, Human Rights

20130828_CareerFair.jpeg 

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.


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The Unsession

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 1:24 PM
Categories: Reform

The Unsession

Click to enlarge 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.


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Governor Mark Dayton on Farming in Minnesota

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 10:07 AM
Categories: Agriculture

Governor Dayton attending Farmfest

Governor Mark Dayton at Farmfest 2013

When I was growing up, I heard a story about how the legendary University of Minnesota football coach, Bernie Bierman, recruited big, strong players for his national championship teams.  Reportedly, he drove through Minnesota farm country in the springtime.  When he saw a young man walking behind a plow, he stopped and asked for directions to a nearby town.  If the young man pointed with his finger, the coach drove on.  If, however, the farm boy lifted the plow to point the direction, Bernie recruited him to play football at the U!

Whether or not that story is true, it tells the truth about the strength and spirit of Minnesota farmers.  Today’s agriculture requires not only physical strength but also many other skills, to manage complex businesses, overcome all kinds of obstacles, and survive serious setbacks.


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Lt. Governor's Visit Highlights New Efforts to Protect Our Natural Resources

Posted on August 12, 2013 at 1:41 PM
Categories: Environment, Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon

Lt. Governor Prettner Solon and Senior Policy Advisor Will Seuffert

Lt. Governor Prettner Solon and senior policy advisor, Will Seuffert, spent time on Isle Royale reviewing efforts to address aquatic invasive species.

Last week, Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon visited Isle Royale, Michigan. The island is located in the northwestern corner of Lake Superior – a two-hour ferry ride from Grand Portage, Minnesota. 
 
The 850 square-mile island’s isolated location provides one of the most unique ecosystems in North America. Isle Royale is home to only 18 mammal species, unlike the nearest mainland, which hosts more than 40 species. The island also houses the longest running large mammal predator-prey study on earth.
 
Unfortunately, this otherwise pristine wilderness is now grappling with aquatic invasive species such as spiny water fleas, sea lamprey, and zebra mussels. These water-based invaders can disrupt the natural ecosystem – pushing out native plants, fish, and animals.
 
During her visit, the Lieutenant Governor traveled aboard the Ranger III, a National Park Service lake boat, to review efforts to address invasive species on the island and in the waters surrounding it. Here in Minnesota, we also have made new efforts to address aquatic invasive species.
 
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) first began addressing aquatic invasive species in 1987. Since then, the DNR has developed a comprehensive program with more than 160 permanent and seasonal staff dedicated to quelling aquatic invasive species.


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Shopping for school supplies? Save your receipts!

Posted on August 08, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Education

Keeping school supply receipts can lead to valuable tax credits
Kindergarten students find something to laugh about during a classroom exercise. Photo credit: Flickr user Woodly Wonderworks.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Heading to the store for back-to-school shopping? Don’t forget to save receipts from all of your school supply purchases. Doing so could qualify parents and guardians for tax credits or subtractions on your 2013 state income tax returns.

There are two tax options that help Minnesota families pay expenses related to their child’s education: the refundable K-12 education credit and the K-12 education subtraction. Both programs reduce the tax parents must pay and could provide a larger refund when filing a 2013 Minnesota Individual Income Tax Return. To qualify, you must have purchased educational services or required materials during 2013 to assist with your child’s education. Your child also must be attending kindergarten through 12th grade at a public, private or home school.

“The list of required school supplies continues to grow each year,” said Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans. “These supplies are a necessary part of school and saving your receipts now will save you money later.”

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