Recently Bill Blazer, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Business Development, presented about business change and growth in southwest Minnesota to our Board of Directors. He focused on information the Chamber receives visiting with businesses through its Grow Minnesota program.
The statistics gave our board a great chance to think about our work and our region from a 50,000 foot level. One of the biggest take-aways is that the market really is the world—not just the community, region, state or even country anymore.
Another big take-away was how our southwest Minnesota region compares to the state. According to business owners’ perceptions, we outrank the state in K-12 education, sewage treatment, labor costs, business assistance, availability of land, electric rates and local taxes.
We outperform other regions in:
- Business expansions
- Innovation/new products
- Job growth
BUT, we underperform in:
- Recruiting qualified workers
- International trade
According to the same group of businesses asked, other regions outrank us in recreational opportunities, housing supply for workforce, cultural opportunities, highway infrastructure, availability of buildings, proximity to suppliers, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation and state taxes.
During our same meeting, Business Finance Director Amy Woitalewicz provided an in-depth overview of SWIF’s Business Finance Program, so the day-to-day of our loan clients and lending partners was also fresh in our minds. It left us thinking about what we need to do to address both the opportunities and challenges facing our businesses today and well into the future.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities or issues for your business?