Made in MN:

By Julia Quanrud

Things are looking ugly for Minnesota. Unemployment is at a record high, state revenue is falling and massive shortfalls are expected for the state budget. It’s hard to see how an individual can change the course of the economy when the entire nation struggles against recession, but a local organization is arguing that Minnesotans can make a difference, at least here at home in Minnesota. On Nov. 9, Minnesota 2020, a progressive policy think-tank located St. Paul, launched their second annual report, “Made in MN 2008: Boosting Minnesota’s Economy in Tough Economic Times.” A press conference was held just a few blocks from Macalester at the Grand Hand Gallery on Grand and Dale. According to the report, “if Minnesotans spent 25 percent of their holiday shopping budget on Minnesota-made products, the impact would ripple through the economy like a tidal wave and have small and local business people hiring more employees. That would make more than a $2 billion infusion into the state economy. Even a 10 percent increase in purchases of local products would stimulate employment and increase entrepreneurs’ purchases from local suppliers.”

The organization has also put together an online gift guide to several Minnesota-made goods, featuring products from businesses all over the state. Items featured include gourmet chocolates from Mr. B’s Chocolatier (Wilmar, Minn.), high-quality baseball gear from Miken Sports (Caledonia), Phillips organic vodka (Minneapolis), designer wear from both Rectangle Designs and Soho Exchange (both Minneapolis), Cannon River Valley wine (Stillwater), Steger Mukluks and Moccasins (Ely), original jewelry from Lucky Lola Designs (Minneapolis) and more items which act great as gifts.

For those who choose to buy gifts during the holiday season, buying a Minnesotan product can go a long ways towards improving our economy. An employee of Mr. B’s Chocolatier estimated that over half of their sales are made during the holiday season. The impact of one more customer is much greater for smaller businesses like Mr. B’s, especially given the state of the economy today.

To read the report and shop the holiday gift guide, visit