What Really Makes Us the 'Bold North'

What Really Makes Us the 'Bold North'

Boasting points to share with people who live elsewhere.

Whether you’re visiting for the Super Bowl or a longtime resident, by now you’ve probably heard of the “Bold North” marketing campaign. I thought it was geared toward out-of-towners, but as of 27 days before the Big Game, the Bold North website seemed to outsiders more like “Hard to Find North.”

A Few Minnesota Inventions and Firsts

  • Armored cars
  • Airplane autopilot
  • Cortisone
  • Black-box flight data recorder
  • Blood pump
  • Deep-sea submarine
  • Greyhound Bus Lines
  • In-the-ear hearing aid
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Open-heart surgery
  • Pacemakers
  • Retractable seat belts
  • Rollerblades
  • Satellite TV broadcasting
  • Snowmobiles
  • Snow throwers
  • Supercomputers
  • Water skis


More content was expected to be loaded on the site after this column went to press. But I thought I should offer up the following in case it still doesn’t clearly address the question many of us will be asked more than usual in upcoming weeks: “Why do people live in Minnesota?”

First: there’s SO much more to Minnesota than its winters. Our “theater of seasons” is unparalleled. We go from crisp, white snow, ice-covered lakes and 44-below temperatures (this Jan. 4, not counting wind chill) to lush forests, deep-blue water and skies, and temperatures that push 100 degrees, with tropical dew points. In between are springs that produce among the greenest greens you’ll ever see and autumns that paint the landscape as beautifully as anything you’ll see in New England.

Our lands vary from the dense woods and hilly terrain of the Iron Range and western ridge of Lake Superior to the grasslands and bluffs in the southeast. Scattered throughout the state are more lakes, streams and rivers than anywhere else in the country, giving Minnesota the distinction of having more shoreline than California, Florida and Hawaii combined. Then there’s the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageur’s National Park, thousands of miles of bike and hiking trails, and more.

What makes Minnesota unique, though, is how all of the above combines with major-city attractions, one of the nation’s most diverse and deepest economies, a spirit of innovation and collaboration that dates back more than a century and a knack for showing up on more Top 10 lists than just about any other state.

Take, for example, how in Minnesota one can enjoy a pristine lakeside sunrise two hours from a major metropolitan area that also is home to major sports franchises, great restaurants and acclaimed live theater. We’re the best in the nation for these elements; consider these rankings:

  1. The Twin Cities is one of only 13 major metropolitan areas with four major sports teams (baseball, football, hockey and basketball). Among the other 12, only Boston, Denver, Detroit, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco are as close to locations as beautiful as the lakes of northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin (and few of them have anything as close as Lake Minnetonka).
  2. Minneapolis consistently ranks among the top 10 best cities for live theater, rivaling New York and Boston. We also rank high in per capita-theater ticket sales.
  3. The Twin Cities ranks fifth in Travel + Leisure’s “America’s Best Cities for Foodies” after Houston, Providence, R.I., Kansas City and Atlanta. Other experts also rank Twin Cities chefs as among the best in the nation.

We’re also No. 1 for sports—watching, as well as participating. Men’s Fitness magazine called Minnesota the best state for sports fans, measured by such factors as the number of sports bars and sporting goods stores per capita, sports radio stations and stadiums in the vicinity. “Minneapolis—along with its twin city, St. Paul—has solid MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL teams, but here’s the kicker: It had more than 3 million in stadium attendance between those four teams last year. That’s more pro game attendance per capita than any other city in the United States. Then there are the 353 sporting goods stores, two ESPN radio stations and 20 sports bars per 100,000 people.”

Minnesota is the nation’s fifth-largest ag producer. It’s the largest turkey producer, second-largest in hogs, sixth in cheese and honey, and eighth in milk production. In the crops arena, the state produces the most sugar beets, is second in wild rice, and fourth in corn, soybeans and flaxseed.

Pro sports here generate more than $330 million in spending each year. And then there are the sports that Minnesotans actually play. This side of the sports economy generates far more taxable revenue in this state—more than $12 billion a year.

Backing all those cultural and recreational amenities is an awesome economy. Minnesota has the most Fortune 500 companies per capita in the nation. In addition to UnitedHealth Group, Ecolab and Target, we have Mayo Clinic, Cargill and thousands of multigenerational family businesses (many quite large, such as Marvin Windows and Doors) within our borders. There’s our Iron Range and the promise it shows of industry growth in upcoming years. And we have one of the largest agriculture clusters anywhere, supported by organizations such as Land O’Lakes and Hormel.

But most important of all: our people. We have a long, rich history of innovation (see “50 Fantastic Firsts” at bit.ly/2CGa5NT), and of giving back to our communities, from our C-suite executives through our front-line employees, leading us to rank second in the nation for “most giving states,” according to Fortune.

There’s more to be bold about when it comes to Minnesota, and I’m sure you’ll hear even more on this in the weeks ahead. For those visiting, enjoy your time here, and come back and see us again, especially when we’re at our best in the summer or fall.


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Jim D’Aquila
You nailed it. I have lived in NYC, Chicago, LA and a bit of my career in Europe. Finally, it dawned on me that Minnesota was the hidden jewel of America.
Thanks for writing this.

2/5/2018 2:42:36 AM

Jill Allison
Please send this article to Bill Kristol in response to his snarky tweet about hosting this illustrious super bowl in the middle of nowhere.
1/30/2018 3:45:46 PM

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