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Minnesota Involves Labor, Non-Profits in Economic Development Council

I give South Dakota government a hard time for its narrow business-über-alles mindset. Our short-sighted willingness to do anything for a buck leads to air and water pollution from CAFOs, superspreader rallies amidst a pandemic, undercompensation for workers, and underinvestment in public goods.

Of course, every state looks to do favors for big business. Even the neighborly socialists to our east in Minnesota encourage businesses to build and grow in the Twin Cities and out around those 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota just manages to do it better, hosting eighteen Fortune 500 companies (compared to zero in South Dakota) and taxing their colossal income to build more roads and libraries and pay their teachers notably better wages.

And even when Minnesota creates a new committee to work on economic development, they don’t just pick a bunch of corporate cronies to figure out how to raid the treasury and concentrate wealth among their one-percenter friends. They include advocates for working people and social justice to focus on sharing the wealth with all Minnesotans:

Gov. Tim Walz has tapped 15 business and nonprofit leaders to form a Council on Economic Expansion to address the labor shortage in Minnesota and ensure that the state’s economic recovery is fair.

…The council will be co-chaired by Paul Williams, CEO of Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis, and Jeff Ettinger, former CEO of Hormel Foods Inc. in Austin.

The other members, who will serve one-year terms, include Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Bharti Wahi, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, and Penny Wheeler, CEO of Allina Health. It also includes leaders from labor and industry groups such as SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.

Williams noted that the pandemic has been particularly hard on people and communities of color.

“We see that day and day out, low-income folks are really struggling to make ends meet even in the midst of a strong economy recovery,” he said [Kavita Lumar, “As Minnesota’s Economic Recovery Zig-Zags, Walz Taps a Council to Drive Growth,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2021.09.14].

Imagine the conversations we might have about economic development if, among all the bankers and realtors and other suits, South Dakota’s Board of Economic Development included the CEO of Feeding South Dakota and the chair of South Dakota Voices for Peace. Imagine if the next Governor chose as the next Economic Development chief not another pocket-lining crony-capitalist but one of the Presentation Sisters, or maybe the president of the South Dakota Federation of Labor.

Economic development should be more than more favors for the top capitalists and the fantasy that trickle-down is anything other than piss-upon. Economic development should view the economy as a whole, and our economic development committees should represent all interests.


  1. Guy 2021-09-17

    That’s one thing that is always included in the economic development discussions in Montana is Co-op Business development and that included our nonprofit that was dedicated to Cooperative Business Development. Like Minnesota, Montana values its coops and we continue to have strong co-op development in Big Sky Country as part of more diverse economic development.

  2. Guy 2021-09-17

    Progressives in this state should be huge supporters of Co-op Business Development if they actually understood the structure of a co-op. A xooperative is a member-owned business that’s democratically-controlled and has a huge stake in helping the community it serves. Cory,. you allude to Minnesota as having a more diverse Economic Development Council Along with Wisconsin, Minnesota is “cooperative business development central”. Progressives in Minnesota and Wisconsin understand and support both rural and urban co-ops. Minnesota is one of the first states most recently, along with Montana, to develop investment co-ops and housing co-ops.

  3. Guy 2021-09-17

    Of course you can’t get a co-op business development nonprofit to serve on our state’s Economic Development Council because the South Dakota lacks a full-time and dedicated cooperative business development center.
    Montana has a couple co-op development centers, so do Minnesota and Wisconsin. Democrats, to include Billie Sutton, should be pushing for a co-op development center.

  4. Guy 2021-09-17

    Progressives like to complain about business, how it’s structured and how it operates. That’s why they should be behind co-op business development as part of the state’s broader economic development. In a co-op, you’re the member-owner and you get to have input into shaping your business. This type of business is the most democratically-controlled you’ll find out there.

  5. Mark Anderson 2021-09-17

    Well most red governor’s try to stamp out unions and keep them from developing even for German carmakers. Now since they supposedly care about workers that should prove interesting. They now seem to love police unions. Co-ops are fine by progressives its just that anything “labor” oriented is commie by a good number of the red party. Its a weird world, even Rubio talks about productive pluralism. When the pubs talk about the American worker it’s always a funny disconnect. When Rubio, Cass, Hawley, Romney are all reaching for working class votes you know they have no dog in the hunt.

  6. Guy 2021-09-17

    Mark Anderson, Mitt Romney trying to “understand” the working class…now, that’s hilarious in a very SAD way. We all know what Mitt thinks about the “47%” of us in the working class. He made it very clear to his donors in 2012, that we, the working people,: “believe [we] are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for [us], who believe [we] are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to [us]. BUT, it’s ok for the government to bailout Mitt’s wealthy business friends with our tax dollars. But, then again, Mitt does not believe the “47%” of us in the working class pay taxes?!?! So, what the hell have they been taking out of my pay check every week? What’s that tax they tack on to my sales receipt? I don’t pay taxes, huh??? I just love guys like Mitt [sarcastically] who have earned their fortune through shutting down other companies and laying off working people, so, Mitt can afford to keep his multi-level parking garage for all his cars with an elevator. Maybe we should all lose our homes, live out on the streets, so, Mitt can have more money to buy more mansions across the United States.

  7. ABC 2021-09-18

    Guy, how about a Voters Co-op?

    It could include money for Lyft rides to the polls and a legal defense fund.

  8. Guy 2021-09-18

    ABC, that is an idea to think about. I do not know the “constitutionality” of providing “money for Lyft rides” to the polls, do you? People have provided direct transportation for voters in previous elections, however, the “appearance” of giving money to get transportation may not pass the courts. Then again, it may be perfectly acceptable since the transportation is just a means to get to the polls to vote…as long as there is no “vote influencing” going on during that transportation. I do believe we vote two ways in this country: 1) At the polls and 2) With our wallets. Number 2 is often overlooked by all of us and involves where we spend and invest our money. If we try our best to spend and invest in our local economies, including our cooperatives, we keep our economic power closer to main street and away from Wall Street.

  9. Guy 2021-09-18

    Cory, you stated: “And even when Minnesota creates a new committee to work on economic development, they don’t just pick a bunch of corporate cronies to figure out how to raid the treasury and concentrate wealth among their one-percenter friends. They include advocates for working people and social justice to focus on sharing the wealth with all Minnesotans…” Cory, I very much agree with your statement that EVERYONE should have a representative at the table when it comes to economic development in South Dakota. You’re correct, we have been lacking equal representation in economic policy in the Rushmore State for decades. If Herseth is truly done with politics and happy at Augie, I wish Billie Sutton would jump at taking on Noem again in 2022. Maybe Sutton can get some Herseth people on board -from across East and West River – to help bring in more of the Republican and Independent vote this next time around. Based on 2018, Sutton was close to defeating Noem and I believe he will retain that amount of support he had then coming against her next year. Getting back to economic development, I believe if Sutton is elected in 2022, Independents need to push Billie and our Legislature for more equal representation on the state’s Economic Development Council. I maintain that Billie needs to push for a state-wide, full-time cooperative businesses development center and that center needs representation on the new Economic Development Council under a Sutton Administration. Leaders like Billie Sutton would actually take the time to listen and heed advice from the South Dakota Department of Labor instead of ignoring them because it doesn’t fit with Kristi Noem’s constant campaign narrative.

  10. Porter Lansing 2021-09-18

    How about a WORKER’S CO-OP?

    We won’t call it a labor union, because the half-educated, depleted gene pool is afraid of that thing being “subliminal socialism”.

    No dues or meetings, at first.

    Just a website that every worker who thinks she/he is underpaid can add their resume or desires.

    Once the majority of unemployed sign up, the Co-oP will be the only place a complying business can find a reliable worker.

    Ideas like this attract business, where 50 years Republican elitism haven’t gotten even one Fortune 500 company to move in.

  11. Guy 2021-09-18

    Porter, EXCELLENT IDEA. When I worked in co-op development in Montana, we assisted in helping to develop worker’s co-op. They were wood and steel craftsmen that made custom furniture. They successfully incorporated and have been a successful cooperative business ever since. If it can work in Montana, it can work in South Dakota. That is why we need a full-time, state-wide COOPERATIVE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER in South Dakota. Cooperatives need more representation on the Economic Development Council. When is Billie Sutton announcing he’s running again? Sutton’s FIRST PRIORITY in his next campaign against Noem aught to be centered on this subject that Cory brought up with EQUAL representation on the state’s Economic Development Council.

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