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Streamlining Minnesota’s environmental permitting process: Essential for economic growth

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The economic imperative for permitting reform
The economic imperative for permitting reform
Assessing timeliness and certainty
Assessing timeliness and certainty
Recommendations for improvement
Recommendations for improvement
Actionable strategies
Actionable strategies

Message from the Board Chair

In 2021, the Minnesota Chamber Foundation, a non-partisan research organization, produced its first analysis of Minnesota’s economic performance, Minnesota: 2030. Minnesota’s environmental permitting process was identified as a key barrier to economic growth in that report, but it is not the first time the issue has been highlighted. Minnesota’s environmental permitting process has long-been the topic of concern among businesses. It has been the subject of multiple studies over the last three decades, and efforts to streamline the process are an annual occurrence at the legislature.

A recent report by the Minnesota Chamber’s Grow Minnesota!® program noted that Minnesota-based companies are expanding in other states at a higher rate than out-of-state companies are expanding in Minnesota.


Addressing Minnesota’s uncertain and lengthy permitting
process is one solution to help reverse this trend and
spur economic growth in our state.


The Minnesota Chamber Foundation’s research on Minnesota’s environmental permitting system is data-driven, matched by interviews with dozens of companies across the state. It does not focus on Minnesota’s regulatory standards. The business community shares the state’s strong commitment to protecting our natural resources. The Foundation relied on the expertise of Barr Engineering, along with their partners Policy Navigation Group (PNG) and Squire Patton Boggs to produce a thorough report – with both a scientific and economic analysis – containing more than 30 recommendations.

We hope that this report will provide the data and solutions for the business community, labor leaders, agency officials and policymakers to work together to reshape our permitting process to one that can both protect the state’s cherished natural resources and produce timely and reliable outcomes for businesses; achieving this goal is one important step to help Minnesota compete in the 21st century.



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About the Minnesota Chamber Foundation

The Minnesota Chamber Foundation is the state’s leading private-sector resource on the performance of Minnesota’s economy. Its first economic research— Minnesota: 2030 was released in 2021 as the state was emerging from the pandemic. This flagship report details the state’s economic assets and challenges, and provides dozens of recommendations and strategies to accelerate Minnesota’s growth leading to 2030.

Additional reports from the Foundation detail the benefits of immigrants to the state’s economy; the state of entrepreneurship and consistent updates to our original Minnesota: 2030 report. Looking ahead, the Foundation will produce a piece on migration trends in Minnesota. Domestic migration and immigration are critical factors that impact the growth of the economy, but are often misrepresented or misunderstood.

The Foundation’s work has become a trusted resource for the media, policymakers and business leaders. The data and research help inform business decisions and policy solutions.

The Foundation is also home to a nation-leading workforce diversity, equity and inclusion initiative. Designed to be a practical approach to accommodate all dimensions of diversity across Minnesota, our efforts have gained tremendous momentum with small and mid-size businesses and those located in Greater Minnesota. These companies comprise the majority of Minnesota workers, and business leaders understand both the economic and moral imperative to creating inclusive work environments.

In addition, our partnership with local chambers of commerce through our Business Education Network continues to grow, connecting students to high demand careers in their communities.

To learn more about the Foundation’s work, please contact the staff listed on the back of this report.

We welcome your engagement and your investment in our efforts.