Minnesota has been called one of the best-kept secrets in America. Located in the middle of the country, with outstanding transportation links to both U.S. coasts, the state has a diverse and healthy economy.
Minnesota has 21 Fortune 500 companies - more per capita than any state - and seven of the country's biggest private businesses, including Cargill, an international agricultural firm that is the largest privately held company in the United States. Homegrown companies based in Minnesota include 3M, General Mills, Medtronic, U.S. Bank, and Ecolab.
The state has a strong record of producing successful businesses, especially in finance and insurance, biosciences and medical devices, computers and electronics, food production, and transportation equipment.
Home to International Firms
International companies are increasingly finding the state to their liking. India-based Suzlon Rotor Corp. opened its first U.S wind-turbine factory in southwestern Minnesota in November 2006. Another Indian company, Essar Global Ltd., is building a $1.6 billion steel mill in northern Minnesota.
Additionally, Daikin Industries, a Japanese company that specializes in air-conditioning equipment, chemicals, and oil hydraulics opened a $52 million research and testing center at its McQuay International subsidiary near Minneapolis last year. Allianz Life Insurance, a subsidiary of the Munich-based international insurance and finance giant, is headquartered in Minneapolis.
Innovation and Education
The heart of the state's economy and culture is Minneapolis-St. Paul, a thriving area of nearly three million people that has the 14th largest metropolitan economy in the United States. The region has the third-lowest unemployment rate among major U.S. metro areas, and only eight states had lower unemployment rates than Minnesota as of July 2010.
So what is the magic formula for Minnesota's success? Part of it lies in the state's history of innovation that includes the development of the cardiac pacemaker, open-heart surgery, aviation black box, supercomputers, retractable seatbelts, and more.
Minnesotans also have a strong work ethic - with the fifth-highest labor force participation rate in the country - and a commitment to education, ranking second in the United States for the percentage of people with high school diplomas and among the highest for those with bachelor's degrees.
The University of Minnesota, which receives $600 million in federal and corporate research funding annually, is an internationally recognized institution, with strong programs in chemical engineering, economics, biomedicine, and food science. St. Paul ranks second in the country for colleges per capita.
Transportation links to the rest of the country are outstanding. The Mississippi River, which begins as a stream in northern Minnesota, connects the state by water to 17 other states and the international port in New Orleans. Two hours north of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Duluth, the country's largest inland seaport links the state to the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean. The port ships 45 million net tons of cargo annually.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ranks among the best in the country and has 19 nonstop international flights daily. The state is served by 23 railroads and three interstate highways, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is one of the largest trucking centers in the United States.
With outstanding infrastructure, a healthy economy, and a strong labor force, Minnesota is the ideal setting for starting or expanding a company.