Minnesota’s economic future discussed at CSOM forum

Anne Preller

Leaders of metro businesses and University academic circles expressed optimism Thursday at Carlson School of Management about the future of Minnesota’s economy.

The forum, mediated by Minnesota Public Radio’s Chris Farrell, volleyed between Minnesota Business Partnership and University faculty. The group focused on the anticipated furloughing of airline employees across the nation and continuing economic decline.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale called the Sept. 11 tragedy a fundamental change for the United States.

Outlining steps for economic recovery, Mondale called for increased safety measures, that he said would reestablish a sense of unity in the United States.

“I think we have to look at ourselves again,” he said, “and look at it in terms of whether what we are doing is helping or not.”

Robert Kudrle, a University political science professor, said he agreed there will be increased security within the economic world.

David Banmiller, president and CEO of Sun Country Airlines, spoke about the estimated $20 billion revenue loss the airline industry suffered after the attacks.

“The world changed, the nation changed, and our airline industry has been changed forever,” Banmiller said.

Banmiller quoted a figure of 100,000 employees furloughed since Sunday. He said he also expected a ripple affect to harm the economy through manufacturing and mechanical companies that do business with the airlines.

Sandra Davis, CEO of MDA Consulting, and Keith Dixon, president and CEO of CIGNA Behavioral Health, spoke of the leadership required within company management to reassure the American workforce.

“At the root of the American productivity is the American worker,” Dixon said. “Their emotional well-being is most important.”

Dixon complimented the mental health professionals who have been working continually affected in the business community. He attributed the need for counseling to the difficulty of understanding terrorism.

“One of the things we need to do is help people regain their own sense of security and power,” Davis said.

The economic community needs to provide workers with ways to feel in control of their own lives, she said.

“I think many people are looking for the things that they can go to do,” Davis said, “without glossing over the fact that things have changed drastically.”