The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 1, 2012

Our View: Minnesota has entrepreneurial drive

— Political leaders and business lobbyists pointing to the pitfalls of doing business in Minnesota may be surprised to learn of a report that puts the state fifth highest in the country on a state of entrepreneurship index.

The University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Bureau of Business Research released its annual entrepreneurship rankings for states this fall and Minnesota was ranked 5th best of all states, moving up some 18 spots from last year.

The study's authors say Minnesota moved up based on strong growth in the number of business establishments and a strong business formation rate. The index ranks states on five criteria: percentage growth and per capita growth of business establishments, business formation rate, number of patents per thousand residents and income per non-farm proprietor in each state.

This year's list puts Massachusetts at the top, with North Dakota, California and New York following in the next three slots.

While we shouldn't take this one index as any kind of comprehensive measure of Minnesota's economy or business climate, we know there have been strides made in the past couple of years to make it easier to do business in Minnesota.

Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican Legislature early on streamlined state permitting processes in a bipartisan law. The state is moving ahead, again in bipartisan ways, with health care exchanges, working with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Minnesota political leaders continue to make decisions to invest in secondary education as well as higher education.

In fact, Minnesota higher education institutions encourage entrepreneurial activity with business consulting classes for students, small business development centers and other tools. Maverick Software, a company that had its genesis via MSU and alumni, started with one client and one campus, but now works with students at nine college campuses.

The company was recognized last year with the 2011 Innovative Collaboration of the Year Tekne Award from the Minnesota High Tech Association. It provides software consulting to large companies like Thomson-Reuters and others. Some 100 students work for Maverick Software serving corporate clients. The partnership opens a pathway for students to land those high-tech, well paying jobs that help grow Minnesota's economy.

There are countless other partnerships between the University of Minnesota, state university and community colleges and business to create jobs through new business formation.

The latest study suggests Minnesota has a lot of entrepreneurial capital that only needs to be nurtured. Not only will that help with job creation, but creation of more businesses that in turn can support more entrepreneurs.

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