Guest blog post by Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President and CEO, Minnesota High Tech Association
The entrepreneur economy is exploding in the Midwest and our companies are developing leading-edge technologies. The 2018 Minnesota Venture Conference on Nov. 7 offers a day of insights, from investment experts and startup founders, into this thriving sector. For anyone whose business depends on tech innovations – which these days is all of us – it’s critical to keep up with where tech innovations are heading.
Some of the signs of exponential entrepreneur growth: Minnesota has added more than 500 tech startups since 2015 and coworking space in the Twin Cities has quadrupled in just two years, according to tech editor Brad Anderson at ReadWrite. The Forbes’ survey of 2018 Top 10 rising cities for startups has Columbus, Ohio, at No. 1 and includes St. Louis, Cincinnati and, of course, Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The power of the Midwest entrepreneur economy is demonstrated in the investors, experts and entrepreneurs gathering for the Minnesota Venture Conference. The presenters are coming from across the Midwest, from Chicago and Columbus, Madison to Minneapolis, and more.
This year’s conference is focusing on three hot tech topics: AI/data analytics, blockchain and cybersecurity.
On the investor side, we have a lineup of national experts. Russ Felker, of Chicago-based West Monroe Partners and an expert in blockchain, will present his view on how business is already being transformed by “auditability” of activities from the sale of hard goods, medical credentialing, energy usage and more. Gene Munster, managing partner of Chicago-based Loup Ventures, will talk on how work and commerce are impacted by AI and robotics, how communication and even the brain is changing from the impact of these technologies.
The entrepreneurs pitching at the conference represent leading-edge innovators, with new business models, new technologies and new ways of applying technology. One example is Sharenomy, a Michigan-based fin-tech startup, which is using blockchain to develop a new platform for shared funding and saving that helps micro businesses and small businesses have improved access to capital. Another fin-tech startup, Silicon Prairie Portal & Exchange, has a new platform for crowdfunding of entrepreneurs and business owners. Big Wheelbarrow and TraIve have innovations to transform agriculture. DataChat, a spin-off of UW-Madison, has patented technology to analyze business conversations and turn them into valuable actionable insights.
I encourage you to take a closer look at what the MN Venture Conference has to offer. More info can be found at MnVenture.org. And I hope you will join me for a day of insights on Wednesday, November 7.
Post by B Kyle, President/CEO
Nashville… if you ever want to travel – but still feel like you’re home – head to Nashville!
We just returned from our annual Intercity Leadership Visit (ICLV) trip with about 95 others looking to explore a new city and get to know one another just a little bit better along the way. What a special time we had.
Nashville, for starters, feels so much like home. A walkable downtown with a river running through it, up-and-coming while still not quite sure how to be a “grown-up city”
My impressions come in phrases, scattered images:
Doesn’t it sound like home? Our hosts in Nashville were remarkably candid about the challenges they’ve faced with transit, struggles with equity and disparity… elevated and encouraged us at the same time. And during our three days we spent really good time with our fellow leaders from around the Twin Cities we tasted the Nashville music life, caught a Wild game (they were playing Nashville while we we were there!), and got to know one another better.
This was my first trip, but I already look forward to next year. Be sure to join us if you can!
Guest blog post by Clean Energy Economy Minnesota
From our crazy cold winters to Tater Tot Hotdish - Minnesota is known for a variety of things. But if you were posed with the question, “What comes to your mind when you think about Minnesota?” we bet clean energy wouldn’t be at the top of your list. But according to the recently released Clean Jobs Midwest Report, here’s why it should be: three reasons why Minnesota’s booming clean energy economy should be a point of Minnesota pride.
Fast-growing jobs with above-average wages
In 2017, clean energy jobs grew twice as fast as overall job growth in Minnesota, and now employ more than 59,000 Minnesotans. Not only that, but clean energy employers are projecting to add more than 2,600 jobs in the next year – that’s a growth rate of 4.6 percent. This means that clean energy is quickly and consistently adding jobs to Minnesota’s economy - and the wages are far from minimum. The average wage for a job in the clean energy industry in Minnesota is $71,000, that’s 42 percent higher than the statewide average. Clean energy is working hard for Minnesotans, providing an increasing amount of jobs with competitive wages; who wouldn’t want to brag about that?
Major money back in your pocket
While clean energy offers a plethora of employment opportunities, it simultaneously works to put money back in Minnesotans’ pockets. Energy efficiency, our largest clean energy sector with some 44,000 jobs, is adding jobs at a faster rate than the rest of the Midwest.
Minnesota is assisted in these jobs gains by having long-standing energy policies that prioritize efficiency in our utilities long-range planning. In fact, one of Minnesota’s most successful energy policies, called the Conservation Improvement Program (or CIP) has helped save Minnesotans $6 billion since 1998. For every public dollar spent on the program, it returns $4 dollars in economic benefits.
We think all Minnesotans should be proud of our state’s commitment to saving energy!
Minnesota is a clean energy leader
Minnesota is a leading example of how beneficial clean energy can be. All three of Minnesota’s largest clean energy sectors experienced growth between 2016 and 2017, despite the overall Midwest experiencing a decline in clean energy jobs. In fact, jobs in our two largest sectors, energy efficiency and renewables, grew faster in Minnesota than the rest of the Midwest.
Minnesota even moved up in the rankings of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) state energy efficiency scorecard this year – leading the entire Midwest, and coming in number 8 out of all 50 states.
Minnesota is a shining example to other states of how they too can have a cleaner, stronger, more reliable energy economy. As other states move toward clean energy, Minnesotans will be able to proudly say, “We helped lead the way.”
To put it simply, clean energy is benefiting Minnesota in a variety of ways. While it may not be as obvious as winters that last 9 months, our clean energy economy is working hard for Minnesotans and deserves to be on the list of Minnesota points of pride.