Lake Superior is arguably Minnesota’s most majestic body of water, although it shares the shoreline of the Great Lake with other states and a Canadian province.
The lake is an incredible natural resource for Minnesota, providing fishing and water recreation, shipping and other benefits.
But nobody would overlook the fact that Minnesota, as the slogan says, is the land of 10,000 lakes. Minnesota’s bountiful water resources are widely dispersed throughout this incredibly rich and diverse state.
So it is with Minnesota’s incredibly rich and diverse economy. When thinking of Minnesota’s business prowess, there’s a natural tendency to focus first on the Fortune 500 firms that are headquartered in the Twin Cities metro area: familiar names such as Target, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills, Xcel Energy and Cargill.
Less obviously, Greater Minnesota also is home to many thriving and noteworthy businesses that help form the backbone of the state’s economy: familiar names including Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls, Lund Boat Company in New York Mills, Hormel in Austin, Polaris in Roseau, Marvin Windows and Doors in Warroad, American Crystal Sugar in Moorhead and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
We note this because we shouldn’t forget the people and the important things they do in Greater Minnesota, the diverse area outside the seven Twin Cities metro counties.
The needs of Greater Minnesota should be kept in mind when officials in St. Paul decide what to do with the unexpected wealth that is filling the state’s coffers. Minnesota appears to have ended its just completed fiscal year with a bulging $2.7 billion in revenues above and beyond what economists expected.
Minnesota is on track to collect $26.6 billion in net general fund revenues — 11.2% better than predicted in February, thanks to an economy that is performing better than expected as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
More people are being vaccinated, businesses keep reopening, and federal support continues.
That means Minnesota is in an excellent position to invest wisely throughout the state. By investing wisely, Minnesota can strengthen its already robust economy and create even better opportunities for residents and businesses.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are thriving. But we need to make sure that other areas of Minnesota keep pace. It’s taken Moorhead decades, for example, to get a crucial railroad grade separation that will put an end to long waits for trains — a cause of delays for ambulances and public safety crews.
There are too many such examples throughout Greater Minnesota. Now that the state is flush, we need to ensure that we invest wisely so that the entire state can flourish.
We can chart a better future by investing amply in crucial needs including infrastructure, transportation services, economic development and workforce development, affordable housing as well as local government aid and property tax relief.
Minnesota’s small towns are an overlooked source of strength for the state. To keep them vibrant, and to buoy the entire state, we shouldn’t neglect to invest in Greater Minnesota.
This other view is the opinion of the editorial board of our sister publication, the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.