PwC managing partner says Minnesota is a good place for business

Five years after the Great Recession, CEOs in Minnesota and across the country are ready to hire again, PwC survey shows.

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Tom Montminy, a managing partner of audit-tax-and-advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, transferred from New York to Minneapolis in 2009.

Photo: JOEL KOYAMA • jkoyama@startribune.com,

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Five years since the bottom of the Great Recession, stock prices are at record highs, business sentiment has improved and hiring appears to be accelerating. The annual survey of CEOs by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) indicates that two-thirds of the chief executives polled plan to add employees this year. Meanwhile, the Minnesota economy is growing faster than the national economy and the unemployment rate is lower.

Thomas Montminy, a career auditor, business adviser and manager at PwC, transferred in 2009 from the New York national office to Minneapolis, then took over as managing partner of the Minneapolis regional office last fall. The Minneapolis office has nearly doubled in size to 550 over the last five years.

 

Q: What’s driving the expansion of the Minneapolis regional office?

A: We’ve broadened our client base along with our expertise with multinational operations. And a lot of the companies thriving in the Twin Cities are going national and global. We’re also growing in cybersecurity. And Minneapolis is a great destination for employment. We’re able to recruit students from colleges around the Midwest and nation to come here. We have grown our four practices: assurance or audit, tax, advisory and private company. We go as a single firm to our companies, with integrated solutions.

On the consulting side, or advisory, we’ve had a large national practice and often have flown in experts. We’ve been hiring and growing the local practice.

 

Q: What are Minnesota CEOs telling you?

A: The recovery we’re seeing in the market suggests that CEOs are optimistic about long-term growth prospects. They believe in hiring locally to drive innovative and expansive ideas in the market. Our study found that this is especially true in the U.S. Thirty-six percent of CEOs are prioritizing new product and service innovation, citing this as the main opportunity in 2014.

 

Q: We read daily about the growing compensation gap between executives and employees. Should executives be concerned?

A: Executives are always concerned about losing their most valuable assets: their employees, which unfortunately is part of the normal business cycle. As a result, businesses need to invest in their people, providing the right education and training, and growth opportunities that are demanded in today’s competitive environment.

I think the unemployment rate in the Twin Cities area is extremely low relative to the nation. Companies are looking to increase head count in the right businesses. Most of the companies around town are in a growth mode. Companies are hiring. Our hiring goals are growing each year at PwC.

That being said, if employees leave to start new ventures it can also be good for the economy and for all businesses. It’s also why our firm has a robust alumni relations program in place to stay connected with our employees who choose to explore other opportunities. In my view, any ventures that help create innovation and new ideas are good for our local economy and the country as a whole.

 

Q: What are CEOs concerned about?

A: [Government] policy and economic volatility are still considered by U.S. CEOs to be top threats to growth. Overregulation is one of the top three, with 81 percent saying they’re concerned. In Minnesota, regulation and taxing can influence corporations on how they operate and stay competitive. PwC is working with companies to evaluate and adapt to changing tax regulations, helping clients stay competitive in the state.

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