APEX Convenes Roundtable for Lt. Governor’s #InnovateMN Initiative

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

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On Friday, February 17, 2017, Minnesota’s Lieutenant Governor, Tina Smith, addressed a roundtable of business, healthcare and education representatives at the Duluth LHB office. APEX was invited by the State of Minnesota to host and coordinate the open forum, focused on innovation, business and economic development. Smith’s visit followed the recent launch of the State’s Innovate Minnesota (#InnovateMN) initiative, a campaign celebrating emerging discoveries in technology.

The Lt. Governor initiated the conversation by highlighting the State’s rich history in innovation – calling out familiar businesses including 3M. While the State’s economy is currently trending in a positive direction, she mentioned the lag in addressing innovation compared to other states. To address the innovation gap, the State launched #InnovateMN – a campaign aimed at creating a more nimble policy, capital and supportive environment for business growth and success. The campaign is focused on education, research, broadband and business.

Smith indicated she was looking for candid insight from businesses to determine how the State could improve the landscape for business. Responses from attendees included concerns about workforce and policy mandates, recruitment challenges, infrastructure improvements and permitting process improvements.

Complicated by the State’s expected workforce shortage through 2020, Smith highlighted the importance of educating the next generation of a technology workforce. "Ten years from now there's going to be a company that none of us have heard of yet that will be the fastest growing in Minnesota," Smith stated.

There was considerable conversation about the disparity in funding throughout the State – specifically highlighting Rochester and the Twin Cities as areas that have received significant State resources. Lt. Governor Smith acknowledged the concerns and challenged both the City of Duluth and the region to articulate the competitive advantage more clearly. She indicated that part of Rochester’s success was due to the private and public sector’s partnership and the collective narrative. The collaboration was strategic and well-orchestrated at all levels, including in the legislative arena.

The Lt. Governor’s visit also included one-on-one meetings with business and policy makers.

If you would like to provide direct insight to the Lt. Governor with respect to these issues, contact her team at 1-800-657-3717 or by submitting the online contact form.

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