MN Business 101 blog | Department of Employment and Economic Development | State of Minnesota en-us There's More to Manufacturing Jobs Than Production & Assembly Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:30:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Southwest Region MapWhen people think of the jobs in the manufacturing industry, they typically focus on a short list of production occupations, such as assemblers or welders. That makes sense. Nearly 60 percent of all occupations in manufacturing are classified as production in Southwest Minnesota.

But that also means a little more than 40 percent - or 16,320 manufacturing jobs in the region- are not in production. These include a mix of well-paid occupations, ranging from sales and marketing to construction and other trades. 

After Downturns in Southeast MN, Growth Returns Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:30:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Southeast RegionIt's been a turbulent few years for manufacturing in southeastern Minnesota, as two recessions in a decade alternately pounded and pummeled the industry and triggered substantial job losses during the economic downturns.

The good news: In the calm that followed the storms job growth in the manufacturing industries is returning, albeit at a slower pace than job growth the region has seen across all other industries.

Paper's Still on a Roll in Northeast Minnesota Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Northeast RegionEven though Northeast Minnesota has the smallest number and lightest concentration of manufacturing jobs statewide, it remains a dominant player in a key industry.

And what the region lacks in job quantity is offset by high quality.

Paper manufacturing is a regional strong suit and (despite some significant job losses over the past few years) is still ripping right along in this part of the state.

High-Tech, Precision are Leaders in Metro Manufacturing Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Twin Cities Regional Map

It's fair to say that the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area is the epicenter of manufacturing in Minnesota.

The 4,105 manufacturing companies in the region supply 162,716 jobs. That's about 53 percent of all manufacturing jobs statewide.

In the metro region, the average annual wage in manufacturing was $69,680 in 2013 - 17 percent higher than the industry’s average annual wage for the state as a whole ($59,540).

Rural Renewal Good For Manufacturers Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Northwest RegionMuch has been made of the “brain drain” that results as young people ages 15 to 29 leave rural communities everywhere to seek out education, careers and lives in cities. 

While the youth exodus is troubling and deserves our attention, what is too often overlooked in all of the hand-wringing is the influx of workers ages 30 to 49 who are coming back to rural communities all over Minnesota - and what a boon that is to manufacturers.

Manufacturing is Comeback Kid in Central Minnesota Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Central Region

After getting knocked down hard during the recession, manufacturing has been the comeback kid in Central Minnesota.

Over the past three years, the sector has picked itself off the canvas, charged forward with remarkable stamina and made substantial gains.

Manufacturing has added more employment to this region’s economy than any other industry since 2010, gaining 3,676 jobs. 

When It Comes to Manufacturing, Minnesota's Got It Made Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

It's Minnesota Manufacturers WeekOn the off chance you forgot to circle it in red on your calendar along with other important dates like your wedding anniversary or your kids’ birthdays, here’s a gentle reminder: Today marks the beginning of Minnesota Manufacturers Week.

Cue the trumpet. The applause. The cheering. Roll out the cake with sparklers. All of it well deserved.

Manufacturers Should See and Seize Export Opportunities Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0500 State of Minnesota

Three globes, three continentsLike lots of Minnesota manufacturers, Erick Ajax hadn’t given much thought to selling his products in foreign markets.

Exporting sounded too complicated. Too risky. And EJ Ajax, a Fridley-based precision metal-forming company, was too busy taking care of its U.S. customers to go prospecting in unknown and uncertain territory abroad.

Are Women Ignoring Careers in Manufacturing? Mon, 06 Oct 2014 10:20:06 -0500 State of Minnesota

Women in Manufacturing
You can’t help but notice the special emphasis Sarah Richards uses as she describes her company.

“We are a third-generation, woman-owned metal fabrication manufacturer,” says Richards, the CEO and president of Jones Metal Products in Mankato, Minn.

SBDC Success Story: Crow Wing Cabinets Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:16:16 -0500 State of Minnesota

Crow-Wing-Cabinets.jpg Since 1992, Crow Wing Cabinets’ owners Dave and Sandy Beyer have worked with builders and homeowners to provide cabinets and counter-tops for new and remodeled homes in the Brainerd Lakes area.

As the company grew, the North Central SBDC at Central Lakes College advised and assisted the Beyers in a variety of management areas.

SBDC Success Story: Kelly's Koffee Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:37:54 -0500 State of Minnesota

After Kelly Brinkmeyer decided to sell Kelly’s Koffee to pursue other opportunities, Keith and Rhonda Yochem made a life-changing decision to buy the business. 

Although they had no experience in restaurants, the Yochems were confident they could learn and carry on the Kelly’s Koffee tradition.

SBDC Success Story: Lush Lola's LLC Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:52:40 -0500 State of Minnesota


In the middle of a farming business bankruptcy, Shannon and Jim Malzahn sought the help of the West Central Small Business Development Center to salvage the one part of their business that was working—prepared food.

Never in their wildest dreams did the Malzahns ever consider where this new venture would take them. 

The Bottom Line on Loan Agreements Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:36:07 -0500 State of Minnesota

Loan Documentation

And you thought the hard part was over. 

It's been a nerve-racking month or so, but you've survived the financial inquisition, the scrutinizing of your character and competence, and you've managed to convince the bank that you're a safe enough bet to merit a business loan.

Hurraaaaay! While you're sending out for champagne and confetti, you may be wondering what happens next.

Some Loan Insights You Can Bank On Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:06:32 -0500 State of Minnesota

Bank vault doorIf you’re getting ready to talk to a banker about a business loan, it helps to understand the major factors lenders consider in deciding whether the vault door opens or stays locked -- and whether you’ll leave the bank happy or disappointed.

But before we cover how a bank evaluates your loan application, it’s worth touching on why they’ll subject your request to such intense scrutiny.

Business Finance Questions You Should Ask Yourself Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:44:33 -0500 State of Minnesota

Should I Borrow?After shaking the guts out of your piggy bank and hitting up friends and family for some extra dough (See Business Finance: A Matter of Life and Debt), you've decided that you want some more financial muscle behind your business.

That means a visit to your friendly (you hope) banker.

But before you even think of approaching a lender about a business loan, there are some pretty important questions you should ask yourself.

Business Finance: A Matter of Life and Debt Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:43:58 -0500 State of Minnesota

Help YourselfSo, you've come to terms with the fact that there's no one out there with a briefcase full of bucks just waiting for the chance to finance your new business out of the goodness of their hearts. (See Bigfoot, Small Business Grants, and Other Myths).

Nuts!  So much for Plan A.

But how -- and where, exactly -- are you supposed to find the money you need to get your business up, running and turning a profit? That's probably the most common question ever posed by would-be entrepreneurs everywhere.

Coming to Terms with the Language of Business Wed, 11 Jun 2014 09:31:41 -0500 State of Minnesota

Business TerminologyThe world of business and finance has a language all its own, hundreds and hundreds of terms, some of them so arcane that no small business owner would ever need to understand them. 

Case in point: "Accreting Principal Swap." Go on, look it up, if you dare. But pop a couple of Advil first. It's a headache in 100 words. 

Still, there are some definitions and concepts that every aspiring entrepreneur should understand. Don't know your P&L from your ROI? If it's all alphabet soup to you, here are some basic terms to get you started. In alphabetical order, of course.

Small-Biz Advocates and Consultants Play a Crucial Role Fri, 16 May 2014 13:26:37 -0500 State of Minnesota

RescueThere's nothing worse than feeling alone and helpless, cast adrift on a sea of trouble.

And there's nothing better than, just when you think you're about to be swamped by the next wave, having someone toss a life ring and you're saved. Wheeeeew! 

Hats Off to the Dreamers, Risk-Takers, Go-Getters & Achievers Thu, 15 May 2014 13:36:20 -0500 State of Minnesota

Minnesota Business Success StoriesIt just wouldn't be right if we let National Small Business Week wind down without a nod to companies that are making some really good things happen for themselves and their communities.

Minnesota has more than half a million small businesses. Owners make big commitments and take big risks. They work long hours and face long odds. And they succeed like crazy. Here are just a few stories from our Small Business Development Centers

Small Businesses Success Takes Partners Wed, 14 May 2014 14:04:50 -0500 State of Minnesota

handshakeSuccess doesn't come easy when you start your own business. It takes talent, drive, guts and more than a dash of plain, old luck. 

It also helps to have some rock-solid partners in your corner. 

As we celebrate National Small Business Week, it's important to recognize that Minnesota’s small businesses don’t go it alone (or they don't have to, anyway).

Small Business Means Big Bucks in Minnesota Mon, 12 May 2014 13:48:42 -0500 State of Minnesota

Happy Small Business Week, MinnesotaIn case you entrepreneurs have been too busy taking care of business to notice, this is National Small Business Week.

So, in your honor, the rest of us Minnesotans pooled together and got you something nice: It's the recognition and gratitude you so richly deserve. Go ahead, try it on. Feels good, doesn't it? Yeah, looks good on you, too.

The Cure for the Gulp Moment and Chronic Business Headaches Fri, 09 May 2014 10:23:18 -0500 State of Minnesota

It may have happened a week ago or a decade ago, but most every small-business owner can tell you exactly when they had the “Gulp!” moment.

That’s the time when the excitement, optimism, and euphoria of starting their businesses suddenly gave way to a breath-stealing, temple-throbbing, sweat-inducing panic.

Government Contracts Can Give Big Boost to Small Business Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:42:01 -0500 State of Minnesota

Hot Ticket Events.jpgSelling goods and services to federal, state and local government offices and agencies can be profitable for all companies, no matter their size or target industries. But government contracts can be especially important for the stability and growth of small businesses.

That's why government at many levels takes pains to nourish small businesses by making sure they get a healthy slice of the procurement pie.

Bigfoot, Small Business Grants, and Other Myths Mon, 24 Mar 2014 15:18:30 -0500 State of Minnesota

BigfootBigfoot ... the Yeti … the Chupacabra … the Loch Ness Monster … the Government Small Business Grant.

Each is a myth, a flight of fancy, an expression of wishful thinking, a figment of someone’s runaway imagination.

Of course, people can be forgiven for believing in such folklore. We humans seem to have a genetic gullibility when it comes to monsters and money.

The Income Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Profits Mon, 10 Mar 2014 17:24:59 -0500 State of Minnesota

Forecast $$$$.jpgMeaningful financial projections are essential to business success. How much revenue will you take in? How much will be profit? Will the profit be enough to sustain the business?

No one should ever start or buy a business without a clear plan of profit and a realistic understanding of the sales volume needed to achieve it.

Count on It: You Need to Know Beans About Accounting Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:04:18 -0600 State of Minnesota

Head for Numbers.jpgWhat business topic can induce deep sleep faster than a cocktail of warm milk and Ambien? If you said “Accounting-ssssssnnnnnk-zzzzzzzz” and then dozed off, you nailed it.

By now, your lids may be drooping and you’re fighting back a yawn, so it’s time to get up, pour yourself some strong coffee, do some jumping jacks, slap yourself on the cheeks a few times, and clear your head enough to wrap it around this simple truth:

You can’t afford to be bored by accounting. Not if you hope to stay in business.

To Buy or Not to Buy? The Answer Starts With Questions Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:23:56 -0600 State of Minnesota

Business for Sale.jpgUp to now, we've focused on fundamental issues that anyone thinking of starting a business from scratch should understand before diving in.

But what if you've got your eye on an existing business or a franchise? Well, the same organizational and operational basics still apply. But before you even get to those, you have to know a whole lot more about the prospective business.

Careful evaluation of any business opportunity is an essential first step, one that is too often skipped entirely or given short shrift as over-eager entrepreneurs leap before they look, their judgment clouded by sheer excitement and warm-fuzzy hopes for the business instead of being guided by cold-blooded financial analysis.

Having a Good Business Story Pays? Do Tell Mon, 03 Feb 2014 14:15:17 -0600 State of Minnesota

Good Story.jpgThere’s money in a well-told story.

And not just for best-selling novelists, Oscar-winning screenwriters and witty public radio yarn spinners. It’s true for small businesses, too.

Think about it. A well told story has the power to help you entice, win and keep customers. It has the power to convince lenders and investors to risk their money on your success.  It has the power to stir government to enact pro-business policies and laws. It even has the power to harm your business, if told by someone else. 

Some Prize Opportunities from Minnesota Cup Mon, 06 Jan 2014 12:55:32 -0600 State of Minnesota

Hot Ticket Events.jpgMinnesota Cup, an organization focused on helping entrepreneurs, inventors and small business people conceive, refine, and commercialize breakthrough business ideas, will be hosting several upcoming seminars that should prove quite valuable to anyone who is contemplating a startup or has recently launched a business. All are offered at no cost.

Over the next few months, panels of experts will cover legal, accounting, financing, marketing essentials and more in a new series dubbed Minnesota Cup 101. And a half-day seminar slated for early March takes a comprehensive look at challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Now Playing: Must-See Business Flicks Mon, 30 Dec 2013 09:59:21 -0600 State of Minnesota

Business Videos2.jpgThat sluggish, sleepy period between Christmas and New Year's is a traditional time to recover from the frenzy and excess of the holidays by kicking back and watching movies.

Unfortunately, that kind of leisure just isn't an option for most small business owners. There's always work to do. Best get to it. But that doesn't mean you can't squeeze in a few must-see flicks between your chores. We're talking short videos for small business.  

A Holiday Gift for Manufacturers That's Made in Minnesota Mon, 23 Dec 2013 15:50:44 -0600 State of Minnesota

Minnesota ManufacturersHere's one of those gotta-have-it gifts that hardworking manufacturers and suppliers all over Minnesota can give themselves this holiday season:  An online place to find - and be found by - more customers right in their own communities, regions and state. 

A Minnesota manufacturers supply chain database has been on the industry's wishlist for quite a while. And this year, manufacturers will find it neatly wrapped beneath their collective tree.

The Better Angels of Business Development Mon, 16 Dec 2013 10:13:57 -0600 State of Minnesota

Angel FundA couple years ago, Lisa Lavin posed a question to a friend over lunch. “Do you have a patent burning a hole in your back pocket?” she wondered.

The inquiry wasn't entirely out of leftfield, considering that Lavin’s dining companion was Mark Kroll, an internationally recognized biomedical engineer who helped revolutionize implantable heart defibrillators, who holds more than 350 issued or pending patents, and who is widely considered Minnesota’s most inventive genius.

Describe, Discuss, Detail: Drafting the Guts of Your Business Plan Mon, 09 Dec 2013 16:32:25 -0600 State of Minnesota

Biz Plan Essay.jpgFor anyone who dreads the thought of writing anything longer or more complex than a text or a tweet, words like "describe", "discuss", or "detail" are synonyms for a splitting headache and the main ingredients for an upset stomach.

If you're among the faint of heart when it comes to putting complete sentences and paragraphs down on paper, it's a good idea to stock up on pain pills and Pepto before you sit down to write the guts of your business plan. This is going to be like the world's longest essay exam. Deep details count big. Generalities, not so much.

Writing a Business Plan: The Art of the Executive Summary Mon, 02 Dec 2013 15:21:40 -0600 State of Minnesota

My Biz PlanThere’s a literary legend in which Ernest Hemingway places a brash wager on the power of brevity. 

Insisting that just a few well-chosen words are enough to tell a compelling story, Hemingway bets several other writers $10 each that he can compose a complete story – one with a beginning, middle and end – in just six words.

Once his buddies ante up, he pens this on a napkin: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Short. Engaging. Powerful.

Whether it's true or not is a matter for literary scholars to debate. But when it comes to writing the executive summary of your business plan, it’s a good idea to channel Hemingway just a little.

A Big Day to Think Small Tue, 26 Nov 2013 10:49:01 -0600 State of Minnesota

Here’s a Thanksgiving recipe that should become a tradition all over Minnesota:

Take one small business – preferably one that’s homegrown, not mass-produced – and stuff it with customers and a generous portion of greenbacks.  Serves: the entire community.

Success is Spelled P-L-A-N Mon, 18 Nov 2013 14:06:44 -0600 State of Minnesota

Success in business is no accident.

Ok, so everyone knows someone who launched a business on a whim; has flown it by the seat of his pants; and – far from going down in flames – has been wildly successful. Yes, it happens. But it’s not the norm.

Rough, Tough, and All Business: Veterans are Natural Entrepreneurs Fri, 08 Nov 2013 09:46:03 -0600 State of Minnesota

What do Westinghouse, Walgreens, Wendy’s, Forbes and FedEx have in common? Besides the letters W and F, that is. 

Give up? Or maybe the better word here is “surrender.” (Pssst. That’s a clue.)

More Manufacturers Should Think Outside the Border Mon, 21 Oct 2013 14:17:41 -0500 State of Minnesota

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Owatonna and one day you get an inquiry from a potential customer in Los Angeles or Chicago or Atlanta. Do you respond? Of course you do. When business comes knocking, you answer the door. That’s a no-brainer.

But what if the inquiry comes from Toronto … or Hamburg … or Sao Paulo? What then?

Export Seminars Focus on Benefits for Small Business Mon, 23 Sep 2013 09:36:57 -0500 State of Minnesota

Ask owners of small and midsized companies what scares them most about expanding their sales or business operations into foreign countries, and the answer is predictable.

“Risk,” says Ed Dieter, deputy director of the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO), the state’s official export promotion agency, ticking off the top reason small companies with great potential shy away from exporting. “They worry they won’t get paid, that it’s too easy to lose their shirts. They’ll say, ’Look, I get stiffed often enough at home. Why would I take that chance overseas, where there’s nothing I can do about it?’”