By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A tough time borrowing money and difficulty in finding skilled employees for certain jobs remain top concerns for many businesses in the Mankato region and around the state.
Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said building a strong labor pool is vital to fuel continued economic growth.
“We have to look at how we make sure there is that pipeline of talent,” said Sieben, who toured Mankato-area businesses Tuesday.
She said she often hears concerns by small businesses and entrepreneurs that they have difficulty finding capital. And the alternative to banks — venture capitalists — are not as prevalent.
“At one time Minnesota had a very strong venture capital pool and we need to rebuild that,” she said.
Sieben also touted Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget, noting it targets $75 million for three state programs aimed at creating jobs and helping businesses.
She said the state and Mankato have shown a strong rebound from the recession. Minnesota, in the past six months, has added jobs at a faster pace than any similar period since the 1980s. And it is outpacing national growth.
“Of the 11 sectors tracked (for job numbers), nine are outpacing the nation and manufacturing is continuing to grow,” said Sieben who finished the day at MTU OnSite Energy (formerly Katolight), a manufacturer of diesel generators.
She said the Mankato-North Mankato Metropolitan Statistical Area job numbers have been particularly strong, outpacing all but one MSA in the state in job growth the past six months.