The Big Story Blog

What are the biggest issues facing Minnesota business?

Posted at 3:31 PM on December 29, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy, Taxes

We've been writing a lot today about the business climate in Minnesota but focused mainly on taxes.

But when we asked Minnesotans in the MPR News Public Insight Network to talk about the biggest issues facing their business and what the state could do to help, taxes didn't come up a whole lot.

"The biggest problem I face is that my customers don't have the money they used to and, as a result, have cut back on the use of my services," said Kim Otterson, a farrier from Browerville in central Minnesota.

I don't know that the state government can help much. I really think what we're seeing is the result of the growing gap between the super rich and the "98%". Government, to a large extent, is too beholden to the 2% and that isn't going to change unless the rest of us MAKE it change.
"It is demand," agreed Susan Gebelein, a Wayzata-based consultant to executives.

"There is nothing MN can do about it," she added. "That is okay. As a small business owner, my job is to create a differentiation offering to my customers. My success or failure is mine-- not tax policies or support from MN.

Click on the map icons below to read what others told us, then tell us what you see.

View How's Minnesota's business climate? in a full screen map

Most of the responses came from self-employed Minnesotans, who know absolutely the challenges in this economy. Minnesota lost some 10,000 self-employed businesses in 2008 the first year of the Great Recession, according to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development.


"The biggest issue facing our business is access to a line of credit," wrote Lisa Helminiak, who runs a design firm in Minneapolis.

We started our business in 2007 so obviously the financial markets have not worked in our favor. Getting the banks working again as the grease that turn the wheels of commerce should be priority number one.

Also, the political polarization is hurting business more than any single policy issue. When the State of Minnesota shut down this past summer, business came to a stand still for our company. It felt like 2008 all over again.

Our legislators need to stop the brinksmanship and get back to work. Voters need to take a good look at why we are voting in representatives that cannot compromise.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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