Minnesotans were greeted Wednesday by a dramatically different landscape at the Legislature. I'll be honest: The statewide business community is more than a bit nervous.

We're prepared for two difficult years at the State Capitol. We are certain to be faced with major initiatives to raise taxes, increase government spending and add regulations.

As a business community, we are going to have to work harder than ever to let legislators and the governor know the potential impacts of their decisions on private-sector job providers. We know that our economy is not fully on track; wrong decisions clearly won't help Minnesota businesses compete with their peers across the nation and world.

All 201 individuals sent to the 2013 Legislature will interpret their marching orders from their constituents. We're also certain that not a single legislator wants to take actions that will stall the economy or harm the recovery.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has a common-sense blueprint to help guide the Legislature's debate -- a plan that will benefit all Minnesotans. Here are our recommendations to the 2013 Legislature:

Develop the best talent: Employers have jobs to fill, but they cannot find qualified candidates. We must strengthen education and workforce development systems at every point in the pipeline if we are to distinguish ourselves as the skilled-workforce state.

Costs must be competitive: Minnesota employers make hiring decisions based on the costs of doing business. Restructure electric rates so costs are competitive for residential and commercial/industrial customers alike. Implement a health insurance exchange that ensures quality and affordable health care.

Fairer rules, fewer delays: Outdated rules hinder the ability of businesses to compete and grow. Implement additional efficiencies in the environmental review and permitting systems at state agencies.

Innovate: Let's be creative and innovative, offering solutions for better outcomes and smarter results in all areas of government. Adopt meaningful tax and spending reforms as a package deal.

Our work begins now in advancing our 2013 agenda, and we seek the partnership of all employers. Please contact your newly elected legislators and offer your congratulations. Then arrange a time to have them visit your place of business before they head for St. Paul in January. Let them tour your operations and meet your employees. Then let them know how important their decisions are when it comes to your ability to provide jobs in Minnesota.

We look forward to engaging in a constructive debate to strengthen Minnesota's economy.


David Olson is president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.