Posted at: 01/09/2013 7:34 PM
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The goal is to strengthen Minnesota's economy and give it a more prominent place on the world stage.
On Wednesday, the head of a state agency visited southern Minnesota to outline her strategy for doing that.
"To continue to focus on how we increase our exports," Katie Clark told us. And when the new head of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development spoke to the annual meeting of Greater Jobs, Inc in Albert Lea … "we also need to make sure we have a skilled workforce"… she shared her plan.
“We know that we need to be focused on how do we retain and attract companies," Commissioner Katie Clark explained.
And that's even written into the Greater Jobs mission statement, to retain, expand, create and attract businesses and quality employment opportunities.
"I think rural Minnesota has different challenges than the suburban areas or the metro area," said Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen.
“You've got to make sure there's a strong advocate for greater Minnesota," added director Dan Dorman at the Albert Lea Economic development Agency.
"That's the environment we hope to promote is the collaborative partnerships,” said DEED commissioner Katie Clark.
“I think without question we need a replacement for the JOBZ program," said ALEDA’s Dan Dorman.
JOBZ provides local and state tax exemptions to for qualified companies that expand or relocate in Minnesota. The program is set to sun-set in 2015.
"I know for sure we have one company that because of JOBZ would be in Clear Lake, Iowa if it wasn't for that program," said Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen.
"We used that to create probably more jobs than any other community in the state," added ALEDA’s Dan Dorman.
“I do expect that will be a hot topic this session with the governor and our leaders at the state capitol," said commissioner Katie Clark.
"It's really going to take all of us partnering in this effort and collaborating in this effort to make sure Minnesota is competing well."
And here's a sign of a strong business economy: the Minnesota Secretary of State's office says nearly 61-thousand new businesses were filed in the state last year. That's an 18 percent increase over the year before, and the second highest number of new filings in Minnesota history.