MN's Wimpy Tech Growth Figures from DEED, Trend of Lost Firms Continues

Best Buy Corporate Campus in Richfield, Minnesota in the Twin Cities south of Minneapolis

Photo: Best Buy Corporate Campus in Twin Cities by Chad Davis via WikiMedia Creative Commons usage.
According to Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development, or DEED, the state of Minnesota added around 5,500 technology jobs that average more than $90K per year, 78 percent higher than the average worker in the private sector of the state according to Twin Cities Business Magazine. The magazine also reported that nearly all of those jobs were created in St. Paul, Minneapolis or Bloomington. DEED also mentioned that the state has a high demand for skilled tech workers that far outpaces the supply of those workers. But Minnesota is home to several fortune 500 companies, 17 of them in fact including Target and Best Buy, as TECHdotMN pointed out in an article written at the beginning of this year, which listed 13 Minnesota technology startups and companies that left the state, sold off or vanished for some other reason. One of those companies was based in Mankato. Retail, health care and agriculture remains big in the state but is there too little investment in technology by those with the means and resources in Minnesota?

According to an article in Finance & Commerce written just this past week, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, CEO for Minnesota High Tech Association, explained that the state has a demand for at least 155,000 high paying technology jobs in the next four years, so a measly addition of 5,500 seems almost not worth mentioning. Science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM to educators, needs to be rigorously improved at the K-12 and college levels in the state, many critics argue. MHTA is attempting to help bridge this gap by creating internship, hands-on training and other STEM opportunities for students to get the skills needed to succeed and fill some of those needed roles in the tech industry. But what if those jobs continue to leave the state or fail to get off the ground due to a lack of understanding and unwillingness to invest on the part of the established old-timers already in business in the state of Minnesota? It seems unlikely that the state will fill those jobs if there isn't a radical and significant improvement to education and training investment, not to mention working capital, either provided by the private sector or the public, or even a combination of both to get the creative and technical economy jumpstarted in Minnesota.

A non-profit recently announced its entry into the technology sector of Minnesota with the aim of providing promotion and networking to Minnesota's clean tech and renewable energy companies. That announcement was made just this Tuesday and was reported by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. There are many companies and events that are going on in the smaller business and startup economy that are likely not even considered in many of these figures as well. Groups like the former Creative Coop workspace in Saint Peter and the new Envision Labs in Mankato aim to create an economy of scale without going directly to investors, which has proven time and again to be a failed proposition. So they network among each other grassroots style. Minnesota has the highest number of cooperatives in the nation, so don't be surprised if some of these workspaces, which include many already in the Twin Cities, produces one of the "next big things". Also, Minnesota is a leader in developing clean energy, not just at the University of Minnesota either. The private industry, with companies like Green Energy Products based in Springfield, are leading the pack for development of better and cheaper solar and other renewable energy sources and technology. In July 2012, Slanted Magazine SMAC also covered the story of a Minnesota Lake man who DIY programmed a geo-thermal and solar installation at his rural home. We also covered a story of a Minnesota entrepreneur dabbling in 3-D printing and contour crafting for construction of homes. Midwest Energy News wrote that Minnesota is among a Midwest top tier level for clean energy jobs. They reported that the non-profit Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) estimates that there has been about a 78 percent growth in clean energy jobs since the year 2000. They estimated the average wage for those employed in the field at $71,000 annual income. Agriculture is taking a progressive (if you can call it that) look at using technology for a variety of purposes and the industry seems optimistic from all sides. TECHdotMN reported that Best Buy, a company supposedly "turning itself around" has lost about $6B since 2010.

The list of companies that have left Minnesota or disappeared from the state include Digital River, Wireless Ronin, Digital Angel, Navarre, Lawson Software, Hickory Tech, MakeMusic, Hutchinson Technology, Analysts International, XRS/Xata Road Science, Multiband and FICO. Read where they all went on the TECHdotMN website to learn more about Minnesota technology jobs and investment and to follow the pattern of mergers, acquisitions, delistings on the public markets and other factors such as moving to Silicon Valley to maintain growth. What will drive Minnesota's technology economy? Answer us at or