Despite state job loss, Minneapolis No. 1 for businesses

Kelly Gulbrandson

Minneapolis is the best metro area for business in the country, according to a recent study done by the business news source MarketWatch.

The study, released Oct. 21, considered four factors when ranking metro areas: diversity of businesses, the city’s job growth, population and commuting distance for employees.

Fifty of the country’s biggest metropolitan areas were scored out of 50 points for each category, and then ranked. Minneapolis edged out Denver by 38 points, according to the survey.

Despite the survey results, Minnesota as a whole lost 6,600 jobs in October, 2,700 of which were in the professional and business services job market, according to a monthly report released Tuesday by the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The state and metro area both had an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent in October, which is equal to the national average.

However, during the year, job growth in the state continues to grow, with 2,166 new jobs created so far.

While 20 Fortune 500 companies are based in the Minneapolis metro area, the city also has a diverse mix of small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the survey. The fact that these businesses continue to succeed is another factor of the city’s top ranking.

Christine Hobrough, senior vice president and regional market manager for U.S. Bank, said the bank’s long history in St. Paul and Minneapolis is part of the reason it operates out of this area.

“After making a few acquisitions of other companies since 2001, we selected Minneapolis as our headquarters because of our history here, the good corporations and the very strong business climate,” she said.

Hobrough said the quality of life, work ethic and the transportation in Minneapolis are a few reasons U.S. Bank is headquartered here.

In addition to the Fortune 500, many privately held companies are based in Minneapolis as well.

Bill Brady, corporate affairs representative for Cargill, a privately held, Minneapolis-based agriculture company, said it has a different perspective on business because it is not publicly owned.

“Private ownership enables us to act independently, to take a long-term view and to build a company that can be sustained,” he said.

Brady said Cargill has remained successful because of its engaged employees and “strong commitment to customer satisfaction.”

Though the MarketWatch report makes things seem bright for businesses in the metro area, job growth in the state has decreased over the past six months.

According to the DEED, the state job growth rate for the year so far is 0.1 percent, while the national average is 1.2 percent.

“The employment data over the past few months are concerning, and we will take a deeper look at what is happening in the state,” said Commissioner Dan McElroy of the Department of Employment and Economic Development in a prepared statement.

“I am directing our economists and department experts to look at the trends and make recommendations on how to encourage stronger economic growth,” McElroy said in the statement.

While many University students still succeed in the city, some are focused on pursuing jobs elsewhere after graduation.

Math senior Lara Brekke-Brownell said she moved here from California. Brownell said although she likes the arts scene and the variety of things to do, she plans on moving back to California after graduation.

Political science junior Hannah Lussier said while she grew up in Minneapolis, she hopes to move to Washington, D.C., to get a job.

“I love the climate and the state but hope to go into politics,” she said.

U.S. Bank officials, however, haven’t thought about leaving the area, because of the strong economy, diverse background and the University, Hobrough said. As a University alumna, she said she sees a large number of University students go on to become accomplished in a variety of fields.

With more than 9,000 employees, U.S. Bank has many undergraduate and graduate students as employees and offers a tuition reimbursement program, she said. The chief financial officer for U.S. Bank is also on the Carlson School of Management’s advisory board, Hobrough said.

Economics sophomore Christopher Abacon said he thinks Minneapolis is a hot spot for business.

“I think this is great for the local economy and gives more opportunity for the housing market to expand,” he said.

When he lived in California, he said the business atmosphere there was different because it was already developed, while Minneapolis is still a developing economy.

However, the business atmosphere here is “exciting,” Abacon said, and being a University student gives him an advantage to possibly work for a big company after graduation.