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A Great Place to Live

Posted on August 06, 2013 at 3:36 PM
Categories: Economy, Health

By almost any measure, Minnesota is a great place to live. We have it all: a growing economy, affordable living, top-notch health care, pristine lakes and forests, educated workers and a low crime rate.

In study after study, Minnesota consistently lands at the top of the heap when it comes to quality of life measures. The granddaddy of those studies, the Camelot Index, recently ranked Minnesota second in the country based on six factors: economic vitality, health, education, crime, society and government. Another study, the Opportunity Index, rated Minnesota third this spring behind Vermont and North Dakota, based on social and economic factors that contribute to opportunities for career and life success.

Underscoring the health of the economy, the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, while per capita income grew to $46,227 last year – 11th best in the United States.

Want more evidence about the quality of life here? Minnesota was rated the third-happiest state in the country, according to a 2012 report by the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index, which measures physical health, emotional health, work environment and overall life satisfaction.


New Grants Help Minnesota Livestock Producers

Posted on August 06, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Categories: Agriculture, Economy

Cows are a key component of Minnesota's agricultural production
Cows are a key component of Minnesota's $15 billion dollar agricultural production industry. Photo credit: Flickr user Jannes Pockele

Minnesota ranks fifth in agricultural production in the United States. The $15 billion dollar industry is vital to Minnesota’s economy. Agriculture also is a major area of international trade for Minnesota. In fact, our state exported $5.2 billion worth of agricultural commodities in 2011!

Governor Mark Dayton recognizes that our agriculture industry is critically important to growing Minnesota’s economy. To better support farmers, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is providing $1 million to fund livestock production improvements.

The grants will make a big difference for livestock producers seeking to make farm improvements. These enhancements will help our farmers remain competitive and increase their production. Since the initiative began five years ago, it already has helped 179 Minnesota farmers make $55 million dollars in upgrades and improvements to their farms.


Why Hire a Veteran

Posted on August 02, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Categories: Veterans

Already there are reports of military veterans landing jobs as a result of the connections they have made during the Minnesota Veterans Career Fair held on July 16. Three veterans were hired by E.J. Ajax & Sons, a metal stamping company in north Minneapolis that had a booth at the event. One of the veterans, Curt Jasper, received the job offer just two days after the career fair.

“Combined, these three veterans have 50 years of experience,” said Erick Ajax, co-owner of the company. “Where else can you find such a group of talented and skilled workers?”

The company hired Matthew Greseth with 14 years of experience in the U.S. Army Reserve; Thomas Searles with eight years of service in the U.S. Army; and Curt Jasper, with 28 years of military experience in the Minnesota National Guard. Both Greseth and Searles are currently active in the reserves.

Greseth was hired for a position in logistics, Searles as a machine operator, and Jasper as a human resource manager.

Kent Djubek, the company’s president, explained why the business seeks to hire veterans. “They are excellent workers and have a strong work ethic,” he said. “All three of them have been trained in skills that are transferable to civilian jobs.”


August 1, 2013 is ‘Freedom to Marry Day’ in Minnesota

Posted on August 01, 2013 at 11:12 AM
Categories: Human Rights


Governor Dayton gives remarks at Minneapolis City Hall on the eve of Freedom to Marry Day 

Governor Mark Dayton issued a proclamation designating August 1, 2013, to be ‘Freedom to Marry Day’ in Minnesota.

"On May 14, 2013, I was honored and proud to sign the Freedom to Marry bill into law on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol. On August 1, 2013, same-sex couples shall be free to marry in the State of Minnesota, and this event will be celebrated at the stroke of midnight with marriages across our great state" said Governor Dayton.

"Our nation’s founding principle was stated more than 237 years ago in the Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.'

That principle was later embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: 'No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'

These deeply held American ideals of liberty and justice must assuredly protect the freedom for every person to marry the person they love.

Throughout its history, some of our country’s most important progress has been to extend equal rights and protections to everyone. And while that progress has often been difficult and initially divisive, it has always been the next step forward to fulfilling our country’s promise to every American."


Plan a Trip with MnDOT

Posted on July 31, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Screenshot of new MnDOT traffic App

Stuck in construction traffic? You should have consulted the free, brand-new Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) traffic mobile app. The mobile app features all the construction, maintenance, crashes and road incidents currently available on MnDOT’s website.

The app features a zoomable map with clickable icons for information on traffic incidents, winter road conditions and images from MnDOT’s freeway cameras. Users also can access traffic data that helps drivers determine how much time a trip will take, based on current traffic conditions.


FastTRAC Initiative paves the way for hard working Minnesotans

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Categories: Education, Jobs

Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative
The Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative provides a route for students to advance their careers while providing for their families.

In March of 2012, Patricia Rice found herself moving to Anoka County, leaving behind life in a shelter. As a single mother trying to support her two children, Patricia met with a Minnesota Family Investment Program job counselor where she was able to find a job in a nursing home. She enjoyed the job, but needed something that could further sustain her family and help the community.

Patricia then learned about the Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative, which would lead her toward her goal of becoming a certified nursing assistant. 

The road to a degree can be difficult. Patricia found herself trying to balance her school and work, keeping a roof over her children’s heads. Thankfully, Minnesota FastTRAC provides understanding instructors and specially placed “navigators” who work with students to efficiently comprehend course materials. The Minnesota FastTRAC professors are determined to see their students succeed and move on into sustaining jobs.


Growing Veteran-owned Businesses and Creating Jobs for All Minnesotans

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 5:08 PM
Categories: Economy, Veterans, Jobs

A veteran uses a job fair to help find a job.
Minnesota is veteran friendly, with roughly 600 veteran-owned businesses.

Minnesota is home to almost 400,000 veterans and roughly 600 veteran-owned businesses. A few years ago, Minnesota implemented a veteran-owned business preference for state contracting The preference allowed these businesses to be more competitive when bidding on state contracts – helping veterans transition to civilian life and attract more retiring service members to our state.

The change has made Minnesota more veteran friendly and helped small businesses to grow in our state. Minnesota also has a similar preference for minority and women-owned businesses. The preference works by giving firms owned by disadvantaged groups a small boost during the bidding process.


Redevelopment Creating New Jobs in Oakdale

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 1:23 PM
Categories: Jobs


Oakdale is undergoing a major makeover. The city is redeveloping underutilized and blighted areas around Tanner’s Lake and at the Oakdale Mall. The two projects will infuse more than $65 million into the local economy – creating 325 jobs in the construction, labor, retail, office, commercial, and medical sectors!

Tanner’s Lake. Spending time at the lake is about to get even better. The project will remove three vacant buildings and replace them with high-quality commercial, housing, retail, and public spaces. The improved lakeshore should be fun for residents and visitors alike. The improved site will include a restaurant and pavilion along the shore.

The Oakdale Mall. In recent years, the Oakdale Mall has become an eyesore. The renovated mall will include senior housing and 125,000 square feet new development. Mixing housing and commercial development will increase the vitality and livability of the area for years to come!

The support of Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL legislature was critical to the redevelopment of these blighted sites. This past spring, the Governor and the legislature passed a bill allowing the city of Oakdale to create a tax increment finance district (TIF). The technique, which is used by local government across Minnesota, allows Oakdale to use the increased tax value of the improved sites to pay for the initial renovations.

Supporting local projects is critical to growing Minnesota’s economy, which is why Governor Dayton supports economic development opportunities across our state. Some of the biggest projects from last legislative session included:

The Mayo Clini c: Destination Medical Center. The project is expected to attract $6 billion in private investment, create 35,000 to 45,000 jobs, and ensure Rochester remains a premier global medical destination.

3M Expansion. The creation of a new TIF district in Maplewood is going to help 3M construct a $150 million, 400,000 square-foot research and development lab – creating create 700 permanent jobs.

Projects like these are great way create good jobs for Minnesotans and demonstrate the power of collaboration between government and the private sector. 


Helping Minnesota Veterans Navigate the System and Access Earned Benefits

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Categories: Veterans


With the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military is downsizing – creating a whole new generation of veterans. What does this mean for Minnesota’s veterans’ resource offices? At a basic level: more veterans who need help accessing state and federal resources.  

After leaving the service Minnesota veterans have access to a myriad of state and federal resources. Instead of requiring our veterans to call or visit a central office in Saint Paul or Washington, D.C., we have veterans’ resource offices in every county of the state.

These small offices provided big value to Minnesota’s veterans – connecting them with advice and assistance when filing claims for state and federal benefits like disability compensation, employment training, and medical treatment. Resource offices also assist veterans and their families with a variety of other programs and provide referrals to other community resources.

This year, Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL legislature provided new funding for Minnesota’s County Veteran Service Offices – ensuring Minnesota veterans receive help when applying for the benefits they have earned. The new resources will be used for veterans outreach efforts and to enhance current services.


New Legislation Protects Those with Service Animals

Posted on July 25, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Credit: KSTP TV, Naomi Pescovitz


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