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Minnesota Brown: Asia expands influence over Iron Range economy

One of the interesting northern Minnesota economic stories of the past decade has been Cirrus Aviation in Duluth. The narrative was innovative airplanes built in an old steel town.

And while the company has struggled at times, especially in the recent economic slump, it still represents compelling story. This week a Chinese airplane manufacturer has acquired Cirrus. Today's Duluth News Tribune explores the deal, which officials are quick to say will not close the Duluth plant.

Whether it's iron, grain or now airplanes, it's interesting to see how China, India and other emerging nations are shaping the future of northern Minnesota's economy.

India's Essar Steel is a large potential player in Iron Range mining. Chinese steel production and demand is now a central indicator in the global steel industry. One little hiccup and Hibbing Taconite, MinnTac or the others go on temporary shutdown. Or they hire 100 people tomorrow.

I am also reminded something I heard from a friend who happens to be a Risk savant and global geopolitical hobbyist. He said that China's air force is the world's largest, but that this hasn't been marshaled into global air supremacy because China doesn't have the big carriers necessary to deploy planes worldwide.

Well, they've got little planes that have parachutes now. More importantly, Chinese companies are increasingly capable of building or acquiring anything they want.

Soon, they'll be generating a great amount of wealth as well. Some Americans might curse this fact, but it also represents an opportunity for America generally and Minnesota specifically. That is, so long as trade can be made a two-way exchange.

This post was written by Aaron J. Brown and originally published on Minnesota Brown. Follow Aaron on Twitter: @

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