By Anne Cosgrove
From the July/August 2022 Issue
In May, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced $5.4 million in funding for eight businesses through two programs—the Minnesota Job Creation Fund (JCF) and the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF). These projects, described below, are expected to create more than 325 jobs over the next two years.
The Job Creation Fund provides financial incentives to new and expanding businesses that meet certain job creation and capital investment targets. Eligible companies may receive up to $1 million for creating or retaining high-paying jobs and for constructing or renovating facilities or making other property improvements. In some cases, companies may receive awards of up to $2 million.
The Minnesota Investment Fund provides financing to help add new workers and retain high-quality jobs with a focus on industrial, manufacturing, and technology-related industries. Funds are awarded to local units of government who provide loans to assist expanding businesses.
Advanced Interconnect Technologies LLC in St. Cloud is one firm set to receive JCF ($341,500) and MIF ($125,000). The company provides manufacturing services and technical design assistance to the military, defense, commercial air, and space markets with a focus on advanced interconnect and connectivity issues. The proposed project will expand a facility in St. Cloud by adding 5,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space, with an expected total project cost of $3.8 million. The project expects to create 20 jobs within the first three years.
Clow Stamping Company, Inc. in Merrifield is set to receive JCF ($840,000) and MIF ($450,000). The company provides metal stampings to recognized major manufacturers in industries including agriculture, recreational vehicles, light and heavy equipment, exercise equipment, and commercial refrigeration. The project will expand the company’s current facility by 100,000 square feet with an expected total project cost of $18.9 million. The project will create 65 jobs over the next two years.
In North Mankato, Gordini USA Inc. is set to receive JCF ($800,000) and MIF ($210,000). The company makes gloves under the Gordini brand and for other labels, as well as base layer, socks, and other cold weather accessories. The proposed project would construct a new 120,000-square-foot distribution center, with a total project cost of $12.9 million. The project expects to create 60 jobs within the first five years.
Massman Companies Inc. in Alexandria is set to receive JCF ($175,000) and MIF ($150,000). This entity is a collection of businesses that manufacture automated packaging equipment. The proposed project would construct a new 73,000-square-foot facility that will be used for machine design, assembly, testing, customer demonstrations, product development, engineering, and logistics. The projected cost for the facility is $18.2 million and is expected to create 21 jobs within the first three years.
Nextern Inc. is set to receive JCF ($450,000) and MIF ($600,000). The company collaborates with innovators, clinicians, and device partners to create, iterate, optimize, and manufacture best-in-class medical devices. The proposed project would consolidate operations currently in four different buildings across the Twin Cities into a new global headquarters space of around 110,000 square feet in Maple Grove. The total project cost is $25 million and is expected to create 75 jobs within the first three years.
Nucleus Labs INC in Rochester, MN is set to receive JCF ($500,000) and MIF ($220,000). The company, doing business as Nucleus RadioPharma, ensures access to potentially life-saving radiopharmaceuticals by developing technologies to modernize the clinical development, manufacturing, and supply chain of this promising new treatment against cancer. The proposed project will finish approximately 6,500 square feet of laboratory and manufacturing at the current facility, as well as 3,500 square feet of office space. The total project cost is $5 million and is expected to create 28 jobs within the first two years.
SCR Solutions Inc. in Fergus Falls is set to receive JCF ($160,000). The company designs and fabricates stainless-steel equipment for the food processing industry. The proposed project will add an additional 10,000 square feet to the current facility in Fergus Falls, with a total project cost of $1 million. The project is expected to create eight jobs within the first three years.
Altoz, Inc. in Red Lake Falls is set to receive MIF ($420,000). With its parent company being Central Boiler Companies, Inc., Altoz is a manufacturer of commercial grade zero-turn mowers and outdoor power equipment, and currently the sole manufacturer of a tracked, zero-turn and stand-on mower. The first phase of the proposed project would add an additional 75,000 square feet to the existing facility in Red Lake Falls, and will enable production consolidation, as well as add a shipping/receiving area, assembly line, powder-coat paint system, fabrication department, welding department, warehousing, office space, and employee break room. The project is expected to cost $10.3 million and will create 60 new jobs.
Minnesota Exports Up In 2022 With Record High
Minnesota exports of agricultural, mining and manufactured products reached a record high of $27 billion in 2022, according to a report in March 2023 by DEED. The state’s exports continued its significant growth from 2021, adding 16% over the year.
“Minnesota’s record export sales and continued export growth are great news. These trends show that our manufacturers are well-positioned in international markets and contribute strongly to resilience in our state economy,” said then interim DEED Commissioner Kevin McKinnon.
“We will continue to engage in multi-faceted efforts to bring Minnesota companies and goods to the global stage,” he added.
“The Minnesota Trade Office is committed to helping small and medium-sized Minnesota companies navigate international markets,” said Gabrielle Gerbaud, Executive Director of the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO). “We invite all Minnesota companies looking to launch or grow export sales to utilize all the resources our office provides.”
In 2022, North American markets drove Minnesota’s export growth. Minnesota exports to North America grew to nearly $12 billion, jumping by 30% over 2021. Exports also strongly performed to the European Union (up 26%), the Caribbean, Central America and South America (up 22%), and the Middle East (up 30%), but fell to Asia (down 2%).
Individual national markets gaining over $150 million in exports from the state in 2022 included Canada (up $2.3 billion), Mexico (up $349 million), the Netherlands (up $239 million), Korea (up $211 million) and Spain (up $158 million).
Among products, global sales of mineral fuel, oil (up $1.8 billion), electrical equipment (up $681 million), and cereals (up $618 million) contributed the most to Minnesota’s export gains in 2022. Mineral fuel, oil exports doubled to $3.6 billion—propelled by Canada and petroleum products. High-growth markets for electrical equipment included Canada (up 38%), Germany (up 49%), and Singapore (up 50%); while those for cereals included Canada—the primary market for cereals—as well as emerging markets for wheat such as Yemen and Indonesia.
Minnesota conducted $70 billion in total trade in goods with 215 countries in 2022. Total trade grew 25% since 2021. With nearly $43 billion in imports (up 31%), the state ran a trade deficit of about $15 billion in 2022.
U.S. exports overall grew 18% between 2021 and 2022. Minnesota ranked 21st highest in exports among the 50 states for total exports, up from 22nd in 2021. The state’s exports of goods supported about 118,000 Minnesota jobs in 2021.
Additional export details can be found in the 2022 annual report, which is posted on DEED’s website in the Export and Trade Statistics section.
The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) supports small- and medium-sized Minnesota businesses through technical assistance, export education and training programs, trade promotion activities, services by offices in strategic overseas locations, and export expansion grants. State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grants (50% matching, up to $7,500) support a range of export development activities, including participation in virtual and in-person trade shows and missions.
The MTO also helps foreign companies explore expanding or relocating in Minnesota, and serves as Minnesota’s Office of Protocol, ensuring that the state’s interactions with foreign delegations and dignitaries are conducted with appropriate diplomatic etiquette and cultural practices.
Powering Up With Energy Job Programs
In February, Xcel Energy and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the grantees that will implement the Xcel Energy Power Up program. These grantees will deliver outreach, supportive services, apprenticeship readiness training and facilitate job placement for a variety of energy-related construction occupations. Xcel Energy is investing $4 million in the Xcel Energy Power Up initiative, $3.6 million of which will go toward grants to provide energy-related construction training and apprenticeship or employment placement through June 2025.
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The Power Up program goal is to educate and place 150 training program participants into union apprenticeship or energy-related construction jobs. Program graduates will have the opportunity for job placement with contractors working on Xcel Energy’s Sherco Solar project in Becker, MN, with multiple career pathways available. An overarching priority for both DEED and Xcel Energy is to increase the diversity of the energy-related and trades workforce through focused outreach to people of color, women, and veterans.
The grantee groups to receive portions of the $3.6 million funding are located around the state of Minnesota. These are: Avivo; Building Strong Communities; Career Solutions; Central Minnesota Jobs and Training; EMERGE; Native Sun Community Power Development; and Summit Academy OIC.
“As we pursue our vision of 100% carbon-free electricity, we will depend on construction workers who have the skills and training needed to build cutting-edge clean energy resources into the grid,” said Chris Clark, President, Xcel Energy – Minnesota. “This unique public-private partnership between Xcel Energy and DEED will help grow and diversify the clean energy workforce in our state so we can accelerate the clean energy transition.”