Minnesota 2020 recently released Made in Minnesota 2011: Fertile Ground for Minority Opportunity, which highlight findings on how immigrants, refugees and new arrivals to Minnesota are revitalizing neighborhoods
and entire communities through their involvement in MN’s agriculture economy and retail and other
Some key findings:
- Minnesota’s ethnic and immigrant communities contribute more than $12 billion to the state’s overall business activity.
- Retail and service sales from minority-owned enterprises are estimated at $5.8 billion. These enterprises employed about 40,000 people.
- Revenue at minority-owned firms increased by 83 percent between the 2002 and 2007 Census of business owners, compared to 30 percent for all Minnesota firms.
- Minnesota farmers’ markets contribute up to $64 million in annual net economic benefits.
- Minnesota is home to more than 11,300 Asian-owned businesses, generate $2.4 billion in revenue, and employ nearly 17,500 workers.
- “Other Asian owned firms” (mostly Hmong) totaled 3,271 with $507 million in 2007 revenue.
Highlights on challenges and problems:
- Mainstream and organic sectors of agriculture are capital-intensive and asset heavy, presenting a major barrier for entrance to agriculture.
- New residents and prospective entrepreneurs have difficulty learning about and accessing federal and state programs that could help with everything from startup and business loans to complying with regulations.
- Language problems and a general distrust of government are some of the main barriers.
The Minnesota Legislature should invest in expanding the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and its Small Business Development Centers. Greater cultural awareness and expertise would help with outreach and training for aspiring ethnic entrepreneurs.
Minnesota’s Office of Tourism should develop a brochure guiding travelers who want to explore the state’s international cultural venues and markets, similar to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown directory.