Grow Minnesota! 2021 Summer Quarterly
We are looking for economic development-focused stakeholders to join our growing partnership. As the only statewide program of its kind in the United States, the Minnesota Chamber-led Grow Minnesota!® initiative is keenly focused on retaining and assisting Minnesota businesses year-round. Its strong private-public partnership is key to the program’s eighteen years of success. The Minnesota Chamber and its Grow Minnesota! partners have completed over 13,400 visits since the program began, and one-in-three of those visits results in a request for Grow Minnesota!’s assistance.
Partners represent local and regional chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, and other stakeholders who want to support our business retention work that helps strengthen and grow Minnesota’s economy.
Grow Minnesota! partners receive valuable partner-only benefits. Our growing partnership has allowed us to continually increase capacity to expand our programming and services that now include 24/7 Economic Development Resources, Minnesota Supplier Match database and industry roundtables, economic research, and much more. Some future plans are mentioned later in this report.
Contact a member of the Minnesota Chamber’s Grow Minnesota! team if your local chamber, community, or organization may be interested in learning more about how to engage in our work. We would love to include more organizations or businesses to broaden our reach.
Kathi Schaff, Director Grow Minnesota!®
Patrick E. Donohue, CFA, Managing Partner & CEO of Hill Capital Corp.
“Grow Minnesota! is very valuable to Hill Capital and the ecosystem. The rewards are far greater than the investment and we are grateful for the Minnesota Chamber and its team. We received a lead from the Grow Minnesota! team that may result in a $600,000 - $1,000,000 investment from us to an innovative Minnesota business.”
The Minnesota Chamber and its Grow Minnesota! partners asked 360 small and medium-sized businesses how digital technologies are impacting their recovery and future growth. Here’s what we learned
A growing body of literature shows that digital technologies are driving performance outcomes for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) in the U.S. and around the world.
The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated this trend. As a report by IDC and CISCO states, “Once considered a way for companies to gain competitive advantage, digitalization has now become a matter of survival. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide that was already present in the small business market, and it is forcing companies to accelerate their digitalization.”
Helping business compete in the digital economy is thus a critical building block for Minnesota’s economic recovery and long-term economic growth.
However, research to-date on digital technology trends among SMB’s has occurred mostly at the national and international level. The Grow Minnesota! program set out to gain insights on how Minnesota’s own small and medium-sized businesses are investing in digital technologies and what they need to better leverage these tools for innovation and growth.
Partnering with over a dozen local chambers and economic development groups, Grow Minnesota! surveyed 360 businesses this July-August and conducted in-depth interviews with around 20 small businesses, digital tech suppliers, and business support organizations to better understand this issue.
Here is an initial glance at what we learned:
- Nearly 60% of SMB’s have reached or surpassed pre-pandemic revenue levels. However, 16% are still more than a year away from full recovery.
- 51% of SMB’s expect to increase employment and 59% expect to increase revenue levels over the next 12 months.
- Digital technology use and spending surged during the pandemic but is expected to moderate slightly in coming year.
- 61% reported significant or moderate increases in digital technology use last year.
- Over 1/3 of businesses increased their digital technology spend by more than 25% last year.
- However, only 1 in 5 are expecting to increase tech expenditures by more than 25% in the coming year.
- Businesses that view digital tools as a “core part of their business strategy” recovered to pre-pandemic revenue levels at a higher rate and experienced over 3x better employment outcomes than less digitally focused companies.
- SMB’s report relatively low use of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things (IoT), and supply chain software. However, businesses who do use these technologies report revenue gains at a higher rate than their peers who don’t.
- SMB’s cite a.) lack of time to learn about digital tools, b.) uncertainty about ROI, and c.) cybersecurity threats as the three biggest barriers to adopting new technologies. Lack of digital skillsets among existing workers follows close behind.
- Businesses view employee skill development and education/training about emerging technologies as key levers to accelerating digital technology growth. They also cite peer business leaders and tech supplier/vendors as their preferred “go-to” resources for digital strategies/projects.
A full report detailing our findings will be released this month. Stay tuned for further insights, analysis, and resources on this topic in the weeks to come.
We provide a valuable service by helping Minnesota businesses connect to resources that can address their business concerns. We refer to our partners as community and county-level resource experts. The Grow Minnesota! staff at the Minnesota Chamber provide direct assistance and foster connections between businesses and regional, state, and federal resources.
A multitude of valuable resources is available to Minnesota businesses but many business leaders are either unaware of existing resources, or become frustrated after several attempts to connect to a representative who can address their specific concern. Grow Minnesota! is an expert connector and staff can help business leaders make the right connections faster. We do this in several ways.
Brad Meier, President/CEO, Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce
“Every conversation we have with businesses during a Grow Minnesota! visit is of high value. We learn about the business challenges and how we might be able to assist in finding a solution. Additionally, these visits inevitably create a great relationship with the business leaders and the Chamber.”
Our Grow Minnesota! visits and research results have identified a few key areas that could play a role in boosting Minnesota’s economy and also help with business retention. We will be actively studying how Grow Minnesota! can help in the following areas. More to come soon.
- Digital tools for small to medium-sized businesses
- Support and encourage entrepreneurship
- Business succession and transition planning
Sue Crockett, Executive Director, MNCEO
“A Grow Minnesota! visit with The Minnesota Center for Employee Ownership (MNCEO) allowed the organizations to identify their shared mission of growing the value of Minnesota companies and ensuring that business owners have a succession plan in place to keep businesses in their communities. Grow Minnesota! provided MNCEO with valuable connections to other organizations with similar missions.”
Interested in sponsoring the 2021 quarterly?
Contact the Chamber's Elizabeth Sherry to learn about exclusive sponsorship opportunities for the Grow Minnesota! 2021 quarterly and other Grow Minnesota! digital publications. Get your brand in front of businesses from around the state.