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Minnesota ag exports hit record high in 2011

■ DEED awards small business loans

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded $1.03 million in loans that will help small businesses create 233 jobs statewide and retain another 472 jobs, the state agency reported.

The loans were awarded under the agency’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, which uses federal funding to stimulate private-sector lending that enables small manufacturers and other businesses to expand. DEED officials estimate the loans will leverage an additional $15.89 million in private capital.

In all, 31 Minnesota businesses will receive loans, including Northshore Manufacturing Inc. in Two Harbors, the French Hen Café in St. Paul and STAFF Manufacturing in Lester Prairie.

“One of the biggest challenges faced by promising small businesses is gaining access to capital in the early stages of their development,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “This program provides Minnesota businesses with funding that will enable them to expand and create jobs.”

The funding was distributed through three state funds that were created under the initiative:

• Emerging Entrepreneurs Fund, the fund supports micro-enterprises and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, targeting minority- and women-owned businesses and those located in economically distressed areas.

Funds may be used for start-up costs, working capital, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory, as well as the purchase, construction renovation, or tenant improvements of an eligible place of business that is not for passive real estate investment.

Total funding distributed: 16 loans worth $615,000.

Jobs: 64 created and 323.5 retained.

Private capital: $10.84 million.

• Small Business Loan Guarantee Program: the program guarantees up to 70 percent of a loan made by non-traditional lenders like community development corporations, community development finance institutions and other nonprofit entities. Banks and credit unions will benefit by a reduction in overall financing risk.

Funds may be used for construction; remodeling or renovation; leasehold improvements; purchase of land, buildings, machinery and equipment; maintenance or repair; expenses related to moving into or within Minnesota; and working capital (if secured by fixed assets).

Total loan guarantees: One loan for $224,000.

Jobs: 38 retained.

Private capital: $2.23 million.

• Capital Access Program: the program encourages banks, credit unions and community development finance institutions operating in Minnesota to make loans that fall just outside the normal underwriting standards of lenders. Loans are available for industrial, commercial or agricultural businesses with up to 500 employees.

Funds may be used for start-up costs, working capital, business acquisitions and expansions, franchise financing, equipment loans, inventory financing, construction, and commercial, non-passive real estate acquisitions.

Total funding distributed: 14 loan supports valued at $193,500.

Jobs: 169 created and 111 retained.

Private capital: $2.82 million.

■ Minnesota agricultural exports hit record high in 2011

Minnesota’s agricultural exports hit a record $6.8 billion last year, according to figures released by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

This is up 13 percent or about $750 million over the previous year. The state’s top exported commodities — soybeans, corn, red meat, wheat, sugar, dairy, and feeds — accounted for more than 80 percent of the state’s total agricultural exports.

Agriculture is Minnesota’s second-largest exporting sector with major markets in China, Mexico, Japan and Canada. Nationally, Minnesota is the sixth largest agricultural exporter in the U.S.

Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says more than one-third of the state’s total agricultural production is exported, representing a significant economic contribution to the state and its rural communities.

“These exports have a huge impact on our state’s economic health,” said Frederickson in a news release. “That’s why it’s important to continue our focus on developing and expanding export markets for Minnesota’s agricultural products.”

According to the MDA, agricultural exports support more than 54,000 jobs in Minnesota and generate additional economic and business activities in many non-ag sectors.

MDA is the lead state agency providing export assistance for agriculture and food producers. MDA works in partnership with the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO), which is the lead agency providing export assistance to other Minnesota manufacturers and service providers.

Here are the top exported commodities for 2011 and their values:

• Soybeans, $1.6 billion.

• Corn, $1.3 billion.

• Pork, $740 million.

• Wheat, $459 million.

• Sugar and related products, $359 million.

• Dairy, $218 million.

• Feeds, $116 million.

• Beef, $111 million.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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