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 Response Page - Atkinson  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Robert Atkinson  Interview of
10-04-2013.
 

Structure business incentives to yield broader benefit, lasting value

OVERVIEW

Minnesota's economy has two big core strengths, says Rob Atkinson: lots of knowledge workers, managerial and technical jobs, and scientists and engineers; and lots of research and development (R&D). But, he says, Minnesota needs to work on two big areas: making its linkages to foreign markets stronger and providing an environment that fosters entrepreneurship and new firm formation.

He believes strongly that economic incentives for businesses to grow or expand in a state should not involve just handing out cash to a company that it would put onto the bottom line. He's especially skeptical of giving money to retail. He discusses the incentives Texas offered when Texas Instruments was planning to build a new fabrication facility. The state said it would supply necessary highway infrastructure and invested in improving the electrical engineering department at the University of Texas-Austin. He calls this Texas model a creative way to give an incentive that helps the company, but also creates a tangible asset that other companies can use.

He comments on the failure of inner-city schools and says Minnesota could be a leader on education reform by moving inner-city schools much more to project-based learning. And, he says, the U.S. doesn't do a good job of aligning technical education with the needs of employers. He also believes we need to hold colleges more accountable for results.

Atkinson says the U.S. has no real strategy to compete in global markets and advocates competition among states to create better incentives for foreign companies to come here. 

For the complete interview summary see: Atkinson interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, please rate these statements about today's topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Value of topic. (8.2 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Value of further study. (8.3 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

On a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree), please rate the following points discussed during the meeting: 

3. Develop foreign links, new businesses. (9.2 average response) To improve its economic competitiveness, top priorities for Minnesota should be to develop more and stronger linkages to foreign markets and to actively support entrepreneurship and the formation of new businesses.

4. Tax people, not businesses. (5.3 average response) Since people move less frequently than companies, Minnesota should raise taxes on people, rather than companies, to improve the competitiveness of its tax policy.

5. Non-cash incentives better. (7.7 average response) Minnesota should provide more non-cash assistance to fast-growing smaller businesses, such as vouchers for technical assistance and applied R&D from state universities, and state-sponsored forums on foreign markets, finance and accounting, venture capital, legal resources and workforce development.

6. Offer worker training tax breaks. (7.7 average response) Minnesota should offer worker training tax incentives, not only to improve the tax climate, but also to encourage companies to invest in training a skilled workforce.

7. Offer R&D tax breaks. (8.5 average response) Minnesota should offer R&D tax incentives, not only to improve the tax climate, but also to encourage companies to expand or move their R&D operations here.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Value of topic.

0%

0%

15%

46%

38%

13

2. Value of further study.

0%

0%

15%

38%

46%

13

3. Develop foreign links, new businesses.

0%

0%

0%

38%

62%

13

4. Tax people, not businesses.

15%

15%

23%

38%

8%

13

5. Non-cash incentives better.

8%

8%

0%

46%

38%

13

6. Offer worker training tax breaks.

8%

0%

0%

62%

31%

13

7. Offer R&D tax breaks.

0%

0%

8%

62%

31%

13

Individual Responses:

Ray Ayotte (5) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (10)

RC Angevine (7.5) (7.5) (10) (2.5) (10) (10) (7.5)

5. Non-cash incentives better. Great idea.

Kevin Edberg (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5)

1. Value of topic. Another in an excellent string on economic development theory and data.

3. Develop foreign links, new businesses. Because Americans have access to the largest consumer market in the world, we are complacent in our approach to exports. That said, we have several sectors that depend on foreign markets and that compete quite favorably; agriculture and processed food is one example. The largest multi-nationals (3M, GM, Medtronic, etc.) are already there. Focus state efforts on emerging mid-size companies to grow their international knowledge and capacity. An often-overlooked strength is the amount of foreign study and travel by MN-based colleges (perhaps particularly private colleges). The foreign language capacity of Concordia College in Moorhead and their language villages creates assets in understanding of foreign cultures that is being increasingly recognized.

David Dillon (10) (10) (10) (10) (10) (0) (10)

2. Value of further study. I am thrilled with the greater coverage and discussion of economic subjects. This should be a priority subject as a successful economy is both possible and creates opportunity for social and environmental policy,

4. Tax people, not businesses. Oh boy. I bet this gets negative comments. Ouch.

Phil Kinnunen (10) (10) (10) (0) (0) (7.5) (10)

4. Tax people, not businesses. People often relocate because they are looking for a place to live that will stretch their dollar. Raising taxes only encourages people to move, especially people who might be running or thinking of starting a small business. Why would you start a business in a state, where as a business owner, your personal taxes would be higher than another state? Yes, Minnesota is a great place to live and work because of the lakes and vacation locations; that is part of the reason that if a person wanted to open a plant that made hot dogs, it would be an up hill battle. There would be the environmentalists, PETA, vegetarians, EPA and on and on trying to stop the project. And the state wouldn't be any help because they would be supporting all of the above.

5. Non-cash incentives better. All of the mentioned things sound good on paper, but the best thing that government can do for small business growth is to step out of the way. Less rules and regulations, less paperwork would go a long way to business growth in Minnesota and every other state.

6. Offer worker training tax breaks. Here again, if the tax environment were more business and owner friendly, state money wouldn't need to be spent on worker training, companies would be happy to spend their own money.

Scott Halstead (7.5) (10) (10) (2.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

2. Value of further study. The summary needs to be provided to the Governor and legislature for their action.

4. Tax people, not businesses. First, Minnesotans are leaving the state at an increasing rate. Minnesota needs a more effective government at all levels including public education. We need government reform. We need balanced taxation that reflects the services necessary and businesses and their leaders need to contribute. We have far too many municipalities, school districts and legislators. We have invested very large sums of money for construction and operation for a horse and buggy rail transit system. We are wasting excessive resources on professional sports.

Don Anderson (5) (5) (10) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

Dave Broden (10) (10) (10) (0) (2.5) (7.5) (5)

1. Value of topic. The insight is one set of opinions of how the incentives for innovation, etc., should and do work. Some of the information seems on track and further attention to similar in the future will be of interest.

2. Value of further study. This fits the overall evolving plans and approach of Civic Caucus.

3. Develop foreign links, new businesses. This should be the top priority and in most Minnesota industries it is and has been the focus for several decades. Some of the international exposure has not been widely communicated and perhaps should not be for company completive reasons. The incentives for new start-ups is another issue that has been pushed aside by [virtue of] some elements of the public sector having been negative about business growth and expansion of key areas of the business. There must be a broader understanding of what is going on within industry or what can be going on and also more focus on the level of business that creates products, not just manufacturing.

4. Tax people, not businesses. This is a crazy statement without any rationale. Where did this thought come from? Competiveness can only come from a complete redesign of the total tax system in Minnesota and the nation not shifting the burden from corporations to people.

5. Non-cash incentives better. There are plenty of these going on regularly. The issue is making sure that the academic units are receptive to help the companies that want assistance. Further the quality of forums must be first class and far too often they are put on [by] groups that are not well informed or are simply too simplistic, etc.

6. Offer worker training tax breaks. I fully support an effective worker-training program at all skills levels. The incentive must be not only [for] companies to train the workforce but [for] individuals [to] adapt to the changing workplace. We must be both company- and individual-training related.

7. Offer R&D tax breaks. R&D tax credits or incentives are one of the key components of innovation incentives. I take a neutral position while also being a very strong advocate for R&D incentives because there seems to [be] a sense that the state should pick winners and losers and that is not [its] role. If it is general and there are metrics to measure the R&D focus, then it is "strongly agree."

Chuck Lutz (7) (6) (8) (9) (9) (8) (9)

Wayne Jennings (8) (8) (8) (7) (7) (9) (9)

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (10) (8) (10) (10) (10)

Carolyn Ring (8) (8) (10) (5) (8) (6) (9)

Tom Spitznagle (8) (8) (9) (5) (8) (7) (8)
 

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White


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