Twin Cities Gets Mixed Marks for “Business Vitality”

The MSP Business Vitality Index, which compares the Twin Cities to eight other metro areas, found that the local business climate excels in its unemployment rate and number of Fortune 500 firms-but it leaves plenty to be desired when it comes to accessing capital and attracting minority entrepreneurs.

A report compiled by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce indicates that the Twin Cities performs well across many facets of work force development, business environment, and general quality of life-but it could use significant improvements in a few areas.

The MSP Business Vitality Index compares the Twin Cities to eight other metro areas: Seattle; Portland, Oregon; San Diego; Austin, Texas; St. Louis; Atlanta; and Boston. These cities are chosen because they are similar to Minneapolis-St. Paul in population, are seen as competitors, or have comparable business environments and quality of life.

The index gives an “A” through “F” grade to the Twin Cities based on its ranking among the nine cities. If the local metro area topped all nine cities in a category, it received an “A.” If it ranked between fourth and sixth, it was awarded a “C” grade, etc. (Last year's list simply ranked the cities, rather than providing a letter grade.)

The report collects data from a variety of sources, including government agencies, media outlets, and research firms. Within the measures of business climate, the Twin Cities got an “A” grade based on its number of Fortune 500 headquarters. (Twenty Minnesota companies made this year's Fortune list).

It also received top marks for the tax rate for foreign-owned firms making new investments in local companies, as well as the metro area's unemployment rate, which remains well below the national average.

The Twin Cities received average grades for job growth, average wages, cost of business, and business incubation, among other economic indicators as tracked by sources in the report.

The area received low marks for access to capital, government and fiscal policy, and forecasted job growth. The Twin Cities received one “F”-meaning it was beat out by all eight of its peer cities-in the “best cities for minority entrepreneurs,” as compiled by Forbes.

Regarding quality of life measures, the Twin Cities ranked high for its cleanliness, overall quality of life, bike-friendliness, and average commute times. It fared poorly for the average premium for employer-based health insurance, as well as weather, which influences visitors' perceptions of the city.

Todd Klingel, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, on Monday told Twin Cities Business that the purpose of the report is to look at the data that would be important to businesses that are considering moving to the Twin Cities, existing companies that might expand here, or individuals who might move here for work.

“It's always good not to just have our pom-poms out as a chamber,” but rather to step back and see what needs to be done to improve economic development-and how those things need to be done, Klingel added.