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Minneapolis is bucking many downward economic trends

The groundbreaking of a new steel mill on the Iron Range is a great success story for the state of Minnesota. MinnPost writer Dan Haugen was right to point out this sorely needed economic boost amidst this period of economic uncertainty (“For a change, the economy in Greater Minnesota is looking stronger than business in the Twin Cities”).

Unfortunately, Haugen pairs this exciting development with a misplaced prediction by Bill Blazar, of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, that the impact of our nation’s financial turbulence will be worse for the Twin Cities than in greater Minnesota. The story notes that the metro area depends “on the retail, financing and real estate sectors, all of which are struggling.” I see the situation quite differently.

In Minneapolis, I see an urban economy bucking many of the downward national economic trends and withstanding this challenging business climate with a growing and diverse economy and unparalleled quality work force.

Strong, conservative financial institutions
Minneapolis is fortunate to have very strong, conservative financial institutions located here, including U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Piper Jaffray and TCF. They are sound and are predicted to weather this economic storm.

No other large city in America has a higher percentage of people between the ages of 25 and 34, which makes our work force perfectly situated for creative and knowledge-based businesses.

While financial services and real estate are important components of our city’s economy, Minneapolis’ largest job sectors lie in the health and life sciences and education, sectors that are strong and continue to grow. In Minneapolis, between 2004 and 2007, hospital employment grew 32 percent; ambulatory-health-care services grew 23 percent; and education grew by 23 percent.

Growing a green economy
We’re at work growing a green economy. The city has made a commitment to attracting the kind of private investment that will make Minneapolis the center for clean energy technology and products and is dedicated to helping green businesses succeed.

In addition, our local retail giants — such as General Mills and Target — are thriving. In fact, General Mills recently posted higher-than-expected quarterly profits and raised its full-year forecast.

Minneapolis’ years of investments in people, our No. 1 asset, and in the common ground where we all prosper, are paying off. As a result, our urban creative economy continues to grow and help Minnesota withstand this time of economic turmoil.

Mike Christenson is the director of the Department of Community Planning & Economic Development, City of Minneapolis.

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