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Greater MSP Says It “Assisted” Cos. That Added 9,000 Jobs

The economic development group said it has helped attract dozens of projects, but what does it mean for the organization to “assist” on a deal?

Greater MSP Says It “Assisted” Cos. That Added 9,000 Jobs

The regional economic development group Greater MSP held its third annual meeting on Monday evening at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis to tout its work pitching the Twin Cities to businesses looking to expand or relocate.

A statement from the nonprofit group said that Greater MSP “has assisted companies that have added more than 9,000 jobs and $700 million in capital investment to the region” since its 2011 inception.

But at this juncture, Greater MSP is not releasing an updated list tallying up those projects. Mike Brown, vice president of marketing and communications for Greater MSP, said that details would be included in the group’s next annual report to be released early next year.

Greater MSP’s 2012 annual report lists 31 deals that it worked on, which added a total of 4,816 jobs last year. But what does it mean for Greater MSP to “assist” on a deal? That depends.

“Our involvement varies deal to deal,” Brown told Twin Cities Business. “In some cases we receive a formal request from a company. . . . At times we will come in and do real specific work, if there’s a specific issue that needs to be negotiated.”

Brown said that job creation and capital investment are two key elements for measuring Greater MSP’s performance for its partners, which include both private companies and public agencies.

In one of the year’s more notable deals, Redwood City, California-based Shutterfly, Inc., which makes personalized photo books, agreed to occupy a new 217,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Shakopee. Plans calls for 329 full-time jobs to be created at the facility over the next five years.

Brown said that Shutterfly had narrowed its search list to five states and made its initial connection in Minnesota by contacting Greater MSP. The $60 million project, which broke ground in September, includes about $3 million in state, county, and city incentives. On its own, Greater MSP can’t provide any financial incentives to businesses.

“Greater MSP’s role was really to work to bring those groups together,” Brown said. “[Shutterfly] had decided that they wanted a Midwest location. They contacted us.”

Brown noted: “We do try to make it clear that we don’t really do anything by ourselves. There’s a wide variety of partners that we contact and work with.”

But Brown said that Greater MSP is seeing an increase in interest from companies looking to expand or relocate locally: “We are definitely seeing an uptick in activity.”

Last month, Twin Cities Business reported that Greater MSP is looking to hire a new director of investor relations, a key fundraising position for the organization. On Tuesday, Brown said that Greater MSP is “reviewing candidates” for the post and hopes to fill the job by the end of the year.

Greater MSP currently has enough funds to operate through the end of 2014, but it has not yet announced a capital campaign to pay for future operations. The group, which is based in downtown St. Paul, has an annual budget of about $5 million and currently has 18 employees.

Greater MSP in 2011 launched a campaign to attract businesses to the Twin Cities. In January, Twin Cities Business Editor In Chief Dale Kurschner examined Greater MSP’s origins and accomplishments, suggesting that the organization’s role in local deals had been somewhat unclear in its early months.

The latest job statistics from the state of Minnesota show that the state has now regained the jobs lost during the recession.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported in September that the state had added 63,100 jobs from August 2012 to August 2013. The bulk of those jobs—56,900 positions—were in the Twin Cities metro area.

At the time of its mid-September report, DEED said that Minnesota is faring better than the United States average with an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, compared to 7.3 percent nationally.

DEED is scheduled to release employment numbers for both September and October on November 21, a delay caused by the partial shutdown of the federal government.

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