Continued economic growth forecast for 2013-2014

Business innovation, jobs and economic growth will be key themes for the stable but growing Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar economy in the remainder of 2013 and looking forward to a robust 2014.

Kandiyohi County and the City of Willmar is an economic bright spot in rural Minnesota with innovation continuing to put our area solidly on a course for major and sustainable economic growth.  The companies in our city, our county and our area have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit of innovation that has allowed us to be national, and even global, leaders in several areas.  Spotlighting a large industry-base in the fields of extended healthcare delivery systems; multi-faceted food product creation, preparation and delivery; pre and post K-12 educational fulfillment; governmental; finance and professional services cause analysis to predict strong economic seedbed preparation and continued income growth.  These factors combined with our rapidly emerging technological element, an improving state and national economy, and an uptick in tourism revenues all point to growth and stability in Kandiyohi County.

Kandiyohi County and Willmar enjoy a dynamic economy with abundant business, social, cultural and natural amenities but local leaders should not become complacent and should continue to foster an attractive environment for businesses.  A key to assisting the local economy is to continue to foster small business growth and development.  The enthusiasm and zest created by an active small business community is typically manifested by a continued growth of the larger community of businesses.  Our financial community is doing their part as they are making credit available and approving most loan applications to creditworthy customers.

I believe that our strong healthcare and enhanced technology sectors create continued opportunities for growth.  Will we, in five years, be discussing our new bio-science, bio-medical, micro-robotics and renewable resource driven products and energy companies at the MinnWest Technology Campus, perhaps inspired by the Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center?

Kandiyohi County and Willmar are known as centers of innovation.  Our innovation in all facets of food production and the life sciences contribute to this “out-front” reputation and economic success.  Our unique and desirable natural and social features are underscored by a vibrant tourism driven portion of the economy.

A healthy economy cannot be achieved without full participation by all segments of our private and public sectors.  Internal discussions of how to obtain the full participation that leads to growth and prosperity are healthy and natural to all communities.  Disagreement on the issues is to be expected—what we do when we disagree and how to react to disagreement is what sets us apart and allows us to move forward.

By Steven C. Renquist, EDC Executive Director, originally published in the July 2013 issue of WCT Business2Business

Life in the Willmar Lakes Area – Swimming in Success

The Willmar Lakes Area is a hot spot for outdoor recreation, breathtaking sunsets and abundant wildlife, thanks to the bounty of our pristine lakes and parks.  We have 263 lakes ranging in size from 1 acre to 5,560 acres—the largest being Green Lake located in Spicer.  In fact, we’ve built a business culture around this valuable asset.   The area also offers an abundant mix of professional, housing, educational, cultural, religious and recreational opportunities.

The beauty and relaxed pace of our Willmar Lakes Area has retained and attracted some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs, innovators and business minds, helping us to create a stable, growing economy.  Our sought-after quality of life not only creates opportunities for business to thrive, but helps our dedicated workforce strike the perfect balance between work and play.

Willmar is one of only 18 Minnesota communities to receive the All-America City designation from the National Urban League*.   The Willmar Lakes Area is a community that looks forward.  In the early 2000s, Kandiyohi County leaders developed Vision 2020, a map of where they wanted to be in 20 years.  Vision 2020 spurred the development of the YMCA, Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center, the combined law enforcement center and supported Latino business owners and entrepreneurs.  Recently, Vision 2040 was formed and community leaders and residents will again review the future of the Willmar Lakes Area.  Recent community meetings gathered input on four areas:  economic vibrancy, inclusion, things to do and well‑being.  Vision 2040 will culminate in a dynamic, actionable plan to help the Willmar Lakes Area become an even better place to live, work and play by 2040.

Determination, drive, tenacity and persistence of effort are individual characteristics that lead to business and personal success.  For those who have those traits and for those who simply wish to enjoy life in a very nice community—we wish you welcome.

The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission can serve as a guide and a friend as you examine your local opportunities for success.  Visit the EDC’s website to learn more.

*Source:  National Urban League http://bit.ly/19nn8MT

Kandiyohi County has record low unemployment and high employee satisfaction

In June 2013, Kandiyohi County’s unemployment rate was just 4.4%*.  That’s one of the lowest rates in Minnesota, a state that boasts the 15th lowest unemployment rate in the entire United States.  As a regional center, we host over 24,000 jobs and are able to supply the employee needs of our companies because we draw from five surrounding counties.  Kandiyohi County’s labor force increased 6% from 2000 to 2010.  The region’s projected employment in 2020 shows a 10.4% growth with metal manufacturing showing the largest growth followed by transportation, specialty trade contractors and construction.**

Kandiyohi County’s employee satisfaction and job longevity are nearly the highest in the state.  We also have a high rate of employee affordability with an average weekly wage rate centered in the middle of Minnesota counties.

Visit the EDC’s website for more demographic information.

*Source:  DEED http://bit.ly/19nn8MT

**Source:  DEED http://bit.ly/13qYR9B

Strong Manufacturing Base

Over 14% of Kandiyohi County’s strong employment base is in the area of manufacturing, which is over 2% higher than the state average.  Between 2011 and 2012, we also gained manufacturing jobs at a rate of 2.4%, compared to a rate of 2% statewide.  Find out more about manufacturing in Kandiyohi County.

Kandiyohi County has the ingredients for economic success

Success doesn’t just happen—it is caused.  Certain ingredients must be in place, or available, for a person, a community and a company to achieve its goals.  Here in Kandiyohi County, we have linked our economy, community, government and the environment with the collaborative result of being a successful place to live, to work and to play.  The economy, community and environment are the components that a collaborative group of private and governmental leaders seek to integrate sustainable long-term solutions to present realities.  Durable solutions are built on support by the public, private and nonprofit sectors.  Watch for upcoming posts on a few of the ingredients of our success.