Despite the optimism expressed in a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce survey of businesses and managers, panels warned of threats to the business climate at a chamber conference Thursday. 

"It's a great place to be in business," said Doug Loon, the Minnesota Chamber's new president. "But look behind the headlines and you will see reasons for concern," he said. 

Taxes on business property and levies on estates and firms that organize as sub chapter S and other corporate entities make Minnesota less competitive than other states, said participants on a tax panel. 

"When we make promises of free stuff paid for by somebody else...our clients get sick of that," said William Horn, an estate tax lawyer. 

Another panel focused on mandates that would force employers to provide benefits like paid sick leave and more predictable schedules for workers. The panel was ebullient about beating back recent efforts to bring these mandates to Minneapolis

Unions and progressive groups and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton reply that business is doing well in Minnesota thanks to a well educated and reliable workforce, and that all workers deserve a certain minimum suite of pay and benefits. 

Conference keynote speaker Cargill CEO David MacLennan said his company, which celebrated its 150th anniversary this week, is focused on helping feed a world population expected to rise from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050. 

MacLennan said the future of food security will require free trade and countries growing what they can grow most efficiently; allowing free markets to send price signals to farmers about what to grow and how much of it; infrastructure to move food around the globe; continued technological advances that have doubled food production in recent decades without new farmland; and sustainable agriculture that will, for example, reduce deforestation that is exacerbating climate change.