State Focus: Minnesota – The Road To Growth Starts Here

By Robert Tilton
From the March/April 2015 issue

Minnesota’s recovery is picking up speed. The Land of the Lakes is busy expanding its exports horizons: Gov. Mark Dayton will lead representatives from business, education and cultural institutions on a trade mission to Mexico this summer that will expand MN’s ties to the world’s 15th-largest economy.

The August 9-14 trade mission will include visits to Mexico City and Guadalajara. Besides helping Minnesota companies find business opportunities in Mexico, Gov. Dayton hopes to attract Mexican investments to Minnesota and promote the state as a great place to do business. The mission is being coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

“With a growing middle class and increased demand for high-quality Minnesota-made products, Mexico is one of our state’s fastest-growing trade partners,” added DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben.

Mexico became the state’s second-largest export market (behind Canada) last year, with sales climbing 52 percent from a year earlier to $2.2 billion. Since 2004, Minnesota exports sales to Mexico have jumped 255 percent, adjusted for inflation. Mexico is a top-three market for nine of the state’s top 10 export products, including agricultural products and machinery.


The heart of Elk River, MN is powered by nature, with 45 parks covering almost 1,100 acres, more than 75 miles of paved walkways and numerous hiking and biking trails.
The heart of Elk River, MN is powered by nature, with 45 parks covering almost 1,100 acres, more than 75 miles of paved walkways and numerous hiking and biking trails. (Photo: Elk River Economic Development.)

Elk River is located just 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis on US Highways 10, 169, and 101, with immediate access to Interstate 94. Already a thriving business community, the city is home to Fortune 50 company data centers, medical-device technology manufacturers, metal product fabricators, energy-related businesses, and multi-tenant office parks as well as numerous retail shops and restaurants along the Mississippi riverfront in our historic downtown. But Elk River is still looking to continue this economic growth.

  • Available commercial, business, and light industrial space, including a variety of site options of mixed-use space at the Nature’s Edge Business Center located on U.S. Highway 10, 14 acres of light industrial/light manufacturing space at the Northstar Business Park located on both Highway 10 and the Northstar Commuter Rail, and over 33 acres of shovel-ready, data center-certified space in Elk River’s data center cluster off of Highway 10.
  • Reliable, cost-effective, and cooperative utilities. Elk River offers an unmatched electrical reliability of 99.99 percent, with energy costs an estimated 23 percent lower than the national average; it also boasts a surplus water capacity of 10 million gallons a day and multiple fiber-optic service providers with high-bandwidth fiber-optic networking.
  • Direct market accessibility via road, rail, and air. In addition to being located directly on U.S. Highways 10, 169, and 101 and Interstate 94, Elk River is within 60 miles or less of three airports, including MSP International Airport, St. Cloud Regional Airport, and Blaine Regional Airport. The city also is situated on BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway as well as the Northstar Commuter Rail, connecting to Minneapolis, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Big Lake and surrounding areas.
  • Elk River has a growing skilled workforce of 12,000 with a median age of 35 and nearly 70 percent of talent attaining at least some level of college education. With close proximity to Minneapolis and St. Paul, businesses also gain access to another 400,000+ workers within 30 minutes. And among the 19 public and private colleges in the immediate area, two are leaders in science and technology.
  • Incentives, rebates, and assistance to locating businesses. The Elk River Economic Development Department can turn around development projects in fewer than 90 days and assist in matching a business with available financing options and rebates, including:
    * Energy Efficiency Improvement
    * Minnesota Investment Fund
    * Industrial Incentive Financing Program
    * Tax Increment Financing
    * Tax Abatement
    * Micro Loan Programs

Depending on the industry, qualified businesses may also be able to take advantage of sales tax exemptions for certain business expenses. For more information about development opportunities in Elk River, call (763) 635-1000 or visit