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One Moment, Please... A conflicted state

Mon, Jul 7th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

We have a conflicted state here in Minnesota. Our state government preaches so positively about economic development while at the same time making it harder for businesses to stay in business.

What I am referring to relates to small town America. Our state is killing small businesses in our small towns right here in Fillmore County.

The state-funded organization known as the Department of Employment and Economic Development sends us press releases on a regular basis promoting a progressive image for the State of Minnesota.

On their website http://mn.gov/deed/about/, they state: “The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is the state’s principal economic development agency. DEED programs promote business recruitment, expansion, and retention; international trade; workforce development; and community development.”

On the flip side, our state has departments that are counter-productive to whatever marketing campaign DEED manages to muster to make us feel like we are making progress.

For example, inspectors with the Minnesota Department of Health walk into locally-owned, small town businesses all the time and look for potential threats to public safety -- which then chips away at the financial well-being of those small businesses.

These state workers walking into these local businesses and tearing them apart have a guaranteed wage with great benefits and a nice little nest egg when they retire. Meanwhile, our local business owners often have to scrape by when unexpected expenses arise. They have to maintain inventory, payroll, utilities, property taxes, and so much more. State workers don’t have to worry about that. They have guarantees.

I can understand the need and concern for maintaining the health and safety of food served to the public. We’ve all seen reports on the news about contaminated food, and we don’t want to see that.

However, there are some local businesses right here in Fillmore County that have had to face some tough decisions. Either upgrade their facilities to meet the demands of the Minnesota Department of Health, or be forced to close their doors. Hopes deflated. Dreams shattered.

And, what’s interesting to me is that these businesses were operating just fine while serving the public for decades. They produced volumes of food without incident, and obviously kept customers coming back into buy more of their great product.

While I think it is important to maintain public health and safety, I think we also need to be reasonable. It becomes very difficult for any business in this area to justify a huge investment in upgrading their facilities unless they are in it for the long-haul and feel they can cover the cost of that upgrade.

There are so many unexpected surprises that come along with owning a business; potentially make it or break it scenarios. And, regardless of what DEED says in their press releases, other Minnesota departments lend themselves to the contrary.

At the end of the day, every small town business we lose in our county impacts other businesses in the area. Locally-owned business owners tend to do more business with other locally-owned businesses, operating with the ideology “that we are all in this together.” They spend money at the grocery store, hardware store, restaurants, automotive repair shops, and the list goes on and on. It’s a small reciprocal universe in this small towns. The dollars are recirculated exponentially.

And we need that, since we have quite a few people in our county who work in Rochester and sometimes find a disconnect from supporting their locally-owned businesses right in their own backyard.


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2:50:08, Jul 11th 2014

Frank Wright says:
"Our state is killing small businesses in our small towns right here in Fillmore County." That's a pretty harsh statement Jason considering you provide no facts or details to back it up. You could, you know. It's your publication.


7:25:16, Jul 11th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
Frank Wright,

I think one business that was killed because of State regulations was the closing of Willie's Grocery in Fountain, several months after Wille died. As the various licenses to operate the store was in Willie's name only, upon his death, the licenses weren't transferrable to his son unless his son spent thousands and thousands of dollars to bring the store up to today's current regulations, as Willie's licenses had been "grandfathered in" as he had been in business a long time before the current regulations were adopted.