Greater MSP is a
private/public nonprofit organization, receiving most of its funding
from private sources.
According to David
Griggs, vice president for business development at Greater MSP, the
organization officially launched in October 2011. The
business-attraction group, which has a staff of 18 people, is set up
as a private/public nonprofit, receiving its funding from a mix of
private and public resources. About 85 percent of its funding is from
private sources, which include banks, law firms, utility companies,
retailers, manufacturers. "We purposely keep our public dollars low,
which allows us to operate more as a private entity than as a public
entity," he said. "The sunshine laws don't apply to us, so we can
operate in the shadows. The businesses we work with appreciate that."
He said the public
funding comes from a mix of counties, cities and a few towns. "We take
no money from the state, which allows us to have more of a peer
relationship with the state," Griggs said. The funding is based on the
size of the funder, which is determined for the organization's
public-sector partners by population and for its private-sector
partners by revenue. "We have a top-end maximum that any one company
can contribute, which is $150,000," he said.
The mission of
Greater MSP is to accelerate job growth and capital investment in the
Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) region.
Greater MSP was created to address the performance of Minneapolis/St.
Paul relative to its peer regions, Griggs said. It represents a
16-county region, using the definition of the U.S. Census Standard
Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA). "We've been tasked with three
things: to develop a regional economic development strategy, to brand
and market the region around the world, and to handle job retention,
expansion and attraction projects," Griggs said.
"We work with the banks,
the angel networks, the venture funds, the state, and anyone else to
overcome whatever hurdle a company has identified to doing business in
our region," he said. "Our role is to explore everything to reduce the
cost to a company of locating or expanding here."
To be globally
competitive, Greater MSP has offices in
Toronto, Shanghai, Osaka
There are five
sectors of strength in which the region competes very well.
According to Griggs,
those sectors include:
Health and life sciences;
Headquarters and business services;
Food and water solutions. Water
technology is a strength and Greater MSP is looking to expand that
sector. Companies like Pentair and Ecolab are great assets.
Innovation and advanced
Financial services and insurance.
Operating within those
five, Griggs said, Greater MSP must be very targeted. "We can't use a
shotgun approach to this," he said. "We have to use a sniper rifle
approach to this."
Greater MSP is now
trying to attract dental device companies.
The group has identified
some subsectors, like medical devices, that will always be in the
region's mix. Greater MSP has expanded that subsector to include the
dental device market. He said nobody around the country has focused on
the dental industry, but the assets a dental device company needs are
the same as for medical device companies. "We have all those assets in
place here," Griggs said. Greater MSP is now looking for dental device
companies that are expanding and trying to get them to come to the MSP
Griggs added that we
have a number of hearing device companies as well, but noted that this
is a smaller subsector than the dental device subsector.
The MSP region is "a
magnet" for snack food company headquarters.
Snack food is one of the fastest growing segments of the food
industry. "We've had some good wins so far this year in bringing in a
few headquarters and we have a few more lined up for next year,"
Griggs said. "They're coming because of the talent we have."
Greater MSP just
completed a regional strategy that identified 27 subsectors among the
five broad-based sectors.
He said the group is somewhat limited in how quickly it can address
some of the subsector opportunities, since it only has five people on
the business investment side and three people on the research side.
The MSP region should
take advantage of its proximity to
North Dakota's oil and
Griggs said his organization has started working with the oil and gas
industries. He pointed out that while MSP does not have either
industry, nevertheless it is "the perfect spot" for the engineering
services, legal services, land surveyors and other professional
services needed within the oil and gas industries.
industry is a major contributor to the region's exports.
While there are several
strong subsectors, such as specialty food products; robotics; and
specialty vehicle manufacturing and development, such as snowmobiles,
fire engines, ambulances and buses, one important subsector merits
greater attention. He noted that MSP has a very strong aerospace
sector, very narrowly defined, focusing on electronic controls and
measuring. "It's been flying under the radar here," Griggs said. "We
need to learn what we can do to expand that industry and to bring in
more complementary companies." He said companies in the region like
Emerson Controls, UTC Aerospace Systems and Honeywell are expanding
and hiring lots of people at good salaries.
MSP is the number one
destination for engineering graduates from universities in surrounding
Greater MSP commissioned a study to look at the engineering field in
the region. The report shows that MSP is the number one destination
for engineering graduates from the
University of Wisconsin,
University of Iowa, Iowa State, University of North Dakota and North
Dakota State University. Griggs said each school graduates different
kinds of engineers: the University of Minnesota (U of M) graduates
research engineers, while the
of North Dakota
graduates applied engineers. When a company is thinking of coming to
or expanding in the MSP region, Greater MSP can help it determine
where it can find the talent it's looking for.
The region has the
second highest concentration of industrial engineers in the country,
engineering report shows that the region's aerospace industry is the
number one employer of industrial engineers here. And the report found
that a number of different types of engineers are employed in
company management, especially in headquarters companies. "Our
engineering sector is responsible for so much of our success," Griggs
Greater MSP goes to
trade shows attended by regional companies to meet other companies in
that same sector.
An interviewer asked
what Greater MSP does after it has targeted a certain industry sector.
Griggs responded that the organization talks to any companies here who
will talk about their industry. "They'll give us direction as to the
health of the industry," he said. "They'll tell us what trade shows
they go to, which could allow us to meet other companies in that same
sector. We develop a message based on the assets of MSP and we go out
and tell the story to other companies within that sector. We go to
trade shows and test our message. We'll come back and rerun it and go
back out to test the new message. We have to go out and identify
companies that are expanding and talk to site selectors in that
particular industry. It's very targeted; you must have a message
that's specific to one industry."
development comes from companies already located in the region.
In response to a
question, Griggs said his organization must talk to local companies,
partly to see what the assets of the region are, so the group can go
out and find more companies. "Also, in the economic development world,
it's assumed that 80 percent of your business will come from companies
you have locally already," he said. "Twenty percent will be attraction
University of Minnesota
is making changes to be responsive to the needs of business.
An interviewer asked
why groups like Greater MSP take the education system for granted, but
don't push back at that system to say: Why are you not delivering what
we want and need? Griggs said Greater MSP went to a water technology
show in Munich
this fall and had conversations with a Twin Cities-based major
manufacturer that had an "enormous" presence at the show. The company
was recruiting people. "We asked them where they go within the MSP
region to find people," he said. "They go to the
University of Wisconsin,
Whitewater, to get graduates, because they have the right programs. We
took that information back to the U of M."
An interviewer noted
that Dunwoody is the school most closely associated with specific
industries and that the University
of Wisconsin, Stout, and North Dakota State University also have close
ties with industry.
asked how we might encourage the U of M to change so it is more
responsive to the needs of the business community. Griggs responded
that Greater MSP is linking with the U of M and noted that University
President Eric Kaler is on the organization's board. "I think they're
making great changes there," Griggs said. "They're making changes to
address the problem."
The public sector
should play a role in business attraction and retention.
Responding to a question
about the public sector's role in economic development, Griggs said,
governments are absolutely not overextending themselves in economic
development." He noted that the state of
and local municipalities are offering $3 billion in incentives to try
to attract the Boeing expansion. "You won't ever see that in
he said. If Minnesota's government had played the economic development
role 20 years ago that it plays today, he said, perhaps 3M would not
have moved some of its operations from Minnesota to Texas, California
and North Carolina.