Gov. Walz Makes Business Pitch to “Join Us” in Minnesota
DEED Commissioner Steve Grove, Gov. Tim Walz and business leaders kick off the #JoinUsMN campaign.

Gov. Walz Makes Business Pitch to “Join Us” in Minnesota

A new economic development website and marketing campaign fuel state’s effort to draw more startups and growing companies.

Gov. Tim Walz and the state’s economic development leaders intend to get more aggressive about pitching Minnesota as a place to start and grow business. On Wednesday, they unveiled a new website, that makes the case for building business in Minnesota with information on key industries, talent, and quality of life.

“We’re talking to hundreds of companies a week. This gives us a core DNA,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner Steve Grove. “We don’t sit on top of a giant marketing budget. You’re not going to see a Super Bowl commercial from us. Our goal here is to make #joinusmn similar to Explore Minnesota’s #onlyinmn.”

The #onlyinmn hashtag has generated more than 1 million uses across social media platforms, helping Explore Minnesota promote state tourism.

“Now is our moment to build what matters,” Gov. Tim Walz said. He and Grove led Wednesday’s kickoff press conference at the Twin Ignition Startup Garage in Northeast Minneapolis. They invited four business leaders to help them make the pitch for Minnesota: Aneela Idnani, co-founder of medical device startup HabitAware, Digikey Corp. president Dave Doherty, Xcel Energy executive vice president and chief customer and innovation officer Brett Carter and Walker Art Center executive director Mary Ceruti. All four are Minnesota transplants who spoke to falling in love with the state.

“I’m a first generation South Asian American who grew up in New York, and when I moved here with my husband 10 years ago, we knew this was the place for us,” Idnani said. “What’s kept us here is the community, the quality of life, the affordability, the culture.”

Doherty spoke to Minnesota’s “commitment to service,” which, he said, is unlike any place he’s lived. Now based in Thief River Falls, he said he’s taken to the outdoors from pontoon boating to snowmobiling.

The JoinUsMN site rounds up compelling state rankings like No. 1 in five-year business survival rate, Fortune 500 companies per capita and medical device patents per capita. It also includes economic development programs, business incentives, available buildings, and lifestyle information.

Grove said businesses shopping for new locations aren’t only interested in tax breaks or economic incentives. “More often, they want to know what the work force is like, what the schools are like. Our state sells itself if you’re willing to share the story. We need to be bold.”

The types of companies Grove and his team are targeting including existing companies looking to expand or relocate, as Arctic Wolf did in 2020, and startups that are at an inflection point. “Maybe they have eight or nine employees and now they need HR, legal services—coming to this corporate environment, that’s a sweet spot for us.”

When pressed to pick one sector where he’d like to see growth, Grove named global wellness and health. “That’s where we really thrive,” he said. “It differentiates us.”

The new website casts Minnesota as a “problem solving state.” Walz on Wednesday took care not to brush Minnesota’s racial disparities and civic challenges under the table. “Until every Black family feels welcome and safe here, we have work to do,” the governor said. He added a plea for more collaboration between the cities and Greater Minnesota.

Dwelling on differences, he said, is unproductive. “We have to work to work together. We’re stronger because of our diversified economy. We can talk about our successes while simultaneously bringing everybody up.”

Walz ended his pitch by encouraging Minnesotans to get louder about talking up the state’s advantages, particularly to outsiders.

“Come to Minnesota,” the governor urged. “We’ll be sure you stay.”