Greater MSP is a welcome addition to our strategy to change and grow our economy. Minnesota has needed an organization that’s committed long-term to building our brand and attracting more businesses. That’s Greater MSP’s first, second and third priority.
Other organizations, most notably the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, are responsible for making the business environment better for all businesses and keeping our existing companies in Minnesota. Together, we are a complete package. The Star Tribune Editorial Board should know this, but its Nov. 2 editorial (“Greater MSP wants a new tune from business”), unfortunately, suggests otherwise.
The partners are doing their jobs. The chamber is focused on improving the state’s overall business climate for the benefit of all sizes and types of businesses. Grow Minnesota!, our decade-old, private-sector business retention and assistance program, meets one-on-one with 900 businesses each year to thank them for their investment, help them resolve any company-specific issues related to doing business in our state, and ask what changes in public policy will help them stay and grow here.
Greater MSP is building a solid business-attraction program. Its new attention to recruiting workforce talent is a welcome addition. It goes hand-in-hand with recruiting new businesses.
If anyone’s not performing, it’s our state’s political leaders. Their 2013 actions made it more difficult and more expensive to run a successful business in Minnesota. Financial investments in education were overshadowed by several K-12 reforms that stalled and others that were unwound — all to the detriment of strengthening Minnesota’s workforce. The enactment of new taxes on job creators — specifically the three business-to-business sales taxes and establishing one of the highest income-tax rates in the nation on our most successful small- and midsize companies and top wage earners — only raises the stakes for growing jobs in Minnesota.
The work of economic development, retention and success is not a separate story or strategy from taxes and spending. Incentives and investments must be paid for; overall tax competitiveness must be weighed. The private-sector partners are doing their respective assignments. Now it’s time for the public policymakers to do theirs.
The writer is chair of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce board of directors.