Poster Paper: The Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Region and the Minnesota Economy

Thursday, November 8, 2012
Liberty A & B (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Lee W. Munnich, L. Burke Murphy, Megan Roberts and Jennifer Schuller Prins, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

Minnesota has developed a reputation for having a resilient and broad-based economy. Agriculture, financial services, defense, publishing and printing, and medical devices are just a few of the significant and varied economic activities in the state. The Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) metropolitan area, which also includes counties in western Wisconsin, is the economic engine for the state’s economy, with a large concentration of corporate headquarters and both nationally and internationally competitive industry clusters. This case study describes the background, activities, and outcomes of the nascent cluster based economic development movement in Minnesota and the MSP region. 

The work of the  MSP Regional Cluster Initiative (RCI) and its partners has been a learning process for political and business leaders in the MSP region. This learning process has helped to define future steps and build regional cohesion. While the regional competitiveness approach is still emerging and being redefined in the MSP region and state of Minnesota, several key lessons can be identified:

1)      Corporate headquarters are important economic drivers in the MSP region. It is important to understand the historic context of the corporate headquarter cluster in encouraging and facilitating new and emerging clusters in MSP.

2)      The Minnesota medical device cluster could be a significant driver of new health-related cluster growth in the region.

3)      MSP and greater Minnesota need a regional strategy based on public/private relationships, which build on Minnesota’s civic tradition and regional energy, to grow the economy.

These key lessons, along with the identified goals and objectives of the RCI, provide direction for future organizational movement, activities and outcomes within the nascent cluster-based economic development movement in Minnesota.

While MSP’s Regional Cluster Initiative is still a work in progress, other regions looking to develop a regional economic movement can learn from MSP. The regional economic movement followed a series of steps:

1)      Leadership emerged focusing on key idea of regionalism

2)      Private sector became engaged finding relevance in focus on regional competitiveness

3)      Concrete objectives emerged focusing on growing jobs and increasing wages while decreasing social disparities

4)      Action items assigned to key stakeholders concentrating on regional and organizational strengths

5)      Accomplishment of outcomes and measurable success.

MSP is currently between stages three and four and working towards final accomplishments. As regional leaders look to the future, there is optimism that MSP can, through a greater regional focus and a cluster-driven approach, create greater investment and entrepreneurship, increased innovation, increased cluster coordination, and improved access to quality jobs.