Section Two: Economic Development describes Minnesota’s most pressing challenges to economic growth and some of the most practical solutions to be enacted by state, county and city governments, as well as by the people living in diverse communities. Solutions are organized by topic headings:

  • Small & Medium Businesses
  • Farming & Agriculture
  • Arts & Placemaking
  • Workforce
  • Criminal Justice
  • Immigrants & Refugees
  • Childcare

More than 30 specific options for community action or statewide policy changes are recommended.


In partnership with business-minded and community-minded partners such as the Minnesota Association of Development Organizations and Greater MSP, our Blueprint process produced a promising new paradigm for economic development based on equity and inclusion, local place-making with arts and cultural amenities, rethinking regulatory models and attitudes, welcoming immigrants, and improving access to more affordable child care and housing.

Our listening and research focused on strengthening economic development initiatives that bolster entrepreneurship and small businesses, assist farmers, and broaden workforce readiness through programs that train for jobs of the future, with a special emphasis on communities of color, immigrants and refugees and formerly incarcerated individuals.

Minnesota’s regulatory structures create unnecessarily high costs for farmers and new and small businesses. Proposed solutions include creating a one-stop regulatory interface, rationalizing and simplifying regulations and other customer focused structures that would assist the state in moving towards an assistance role, rather than a “gotcha” mentality.

“Placemaking” is a term used to describe efforts to increase the attractiveness of a particular by improving cultural and natural amenities. The Blueprint recommends maximum efforts in state bonding bills and from other funds for placemaking efforts, particularly in Greater Minnesota and for communities of color.

Everywhere that TBDN members gathered to discuss community needs, shortages and quality of child-care emerged as an economic development obstacle. The Blueprint proposes to greatly expand the CCAP program and the refundable Minnesota Child Care Tax Credit and to encourage more public-private partnerships in providing child care.

Support for farmers and more sustainable agricultural development came through strongly in our listening sessions. The Blueprint recommends a MinnesotaCare buy-in, land-use tax incentives, and investments in cultivating new markets and methods to help farmers weather the current perfect storm of climate-related weather disasters, farm consolidations and federal trade policy. Policies that help immigrants and people of color to become farmers and land owners also were strongly recommended.