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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published December 19 2013

Minnesota attracts Canadian business, sees lower unemployment rate

ST. PAUL - Minnesota received a double dose of good economic news Thursday with the announcement of a Canadian business opening a state facility and the unemployment rate falling.

The new business is Winnipeg-based Price Industries, which plans a design center in the northwest Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove to work on new air distribution products. The $2 million center, expected to employ 40 people, will be heavily staffed with engineering and other high-paying jobs.

Gov. Mark Dayton called a news conference Thursday to announce the Price decision because it was one of two secret trips he made earlier this year to recruit businesses. Both trips, which the media learned about but Dayton refused to discuss at the time, resulted in Minnesota operations.

Also announced Thursday was that the state unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent in November to 4.6 percent. That compares with a countrywide rate of 7 percent.

“The labor market continues to show steady improvement, with the number of unemployed Minnesotans now below pre-recessionary levels,” said Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “The state economy is growing and outperforming the rest of the country in many key categories.”

The unemployment report released Thursday showed that education, health, trade, transportation, utilities, leisure, construction and other areas gained workers in the past year. However, Sieben's department reported that governments lost 1,700 jobs and manufacturing was down 800 in the past year.

The Dayton administration wasted no time in taking credit for the better business news.

The administration touted Minnesota as having the fifth fastest-growing economy in the country. Sieben's agency also promoted the unemployment rate’s fall from 6.8 percent when Dayton took office in 2011 to 4.6 percent now.

A Price official credited his company's expansion in Minnesota to an abundance of engineers and other professionals Price will want to hire. He also said Dayton's trip to the company's Canada headquarters helped, as did an existing relationship with the University of Minnesota.

Senior Vice President Bruce Dorey said the Maple Grove facility, to open in February, will develop high-efficiency air conditioning, heating and similar equipment to be manufactured elsewhere. It deals with ducts, diffusers, grills and similar items.

Dorey said most of his company's employees at the new facility will come from Minnesota.

Dayton said if Price wants to expand its manufacturing operation, he will lobby for that to be in Minnesota, too.

The state provided a $700,000 grant for Price to open its office in Minnesota.