Studies show that Minnesota offers many advantages for medical technology companies, but industry will need future investments in trade promotion, local workforce engagement and strong supplier networks to keep its edge in the ever-changing global field.

Enter the Minnesota Medical Manufacturing Partnership. The multi-stakeholder public-private MMMP, led by economic development group Greater MSP, was formally launched Tuesday as a means to increase Minnesota's reputational standing among potential med-tech investors and to give local projects an advantage with 11 federal agencies that coordinate more than $1 billion in economic development assistance.

The U.S. Commerce Department last year named Minnesota's med-tech sector an official Manufacturing Community, joining two dozen other communities accepted into the Obama administration's Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. On Tuesday, a group of executives and government officials gathered at CHS Field in St. Paul to mark the official launch of Minnesota's program.

"It could bring more federal resources to our region, but I think the Good Housekeeping seal of approval from the government, which could garner private investment here, is probably the aspect of the program that makes it really valuable to the region, as a tool to show the world and tell our story that we have a great industry here in manufacturing," said Greater MSP Chief Executive Michael Langley.

The federal Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership is intended to help drive a resurgence in manufacturing in the United States by encouraging local groups like Minnesota's med-tech cluster to cooperatively develop comprehensive, long-term economic development strategies. The program's website says the government seeks to reward "best practices" by coordinating federal aid.

The MMMP's 20-member executive committee includes representatives from the Medical Alley Association, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota High Tech Association, and economic development groups from St. Cloud, the Twin Cities metro area, Mankato and Rochester.

So far, six working groups within the MMMP have been formed to churn out ideas on how to establish educational and mentoring programs, engage diverse populations in workforce training, attract industrial suppliers that work with med-tech firms, increase affordable housing near existing operations, redevelop brownfields, increase investments in trade promotion and increase access to financing and investment tax credits.

The ultimate goal is to attract more companies to Minnesota.

An example is Coloplast, which hosted a tour on Tuesday for federal officials at its Minneapolis location. Coloplast opened the building in 2009 as both U.S. headquarters for the Danish company and a manufacturing plant for some devices. Coloplast is a global leader in making devices for what it calls intimate health care needs, like ostomy bags, urinary catheters, and skin creams.

The company invested $45 million to tear down an old building along the Mississippi River and build its new one, where about 300 people work today.

"We're just proud that Coloplast can be a part" of the Minnesota med-tech community, said Coloplast North America President Ed Veome. "Obviously, we located our facilities here with the thought that this is one of the premier areas in the country for medical device manufacturers. And being a global leader in our specific space, we wanted to be a part of that community."

Joe Carlson • 612-673-4779