Immigrant workforce is critical for Minnesota's economic growth

Monday, July 23, 2018

A recent visit to southwestern Minnesota by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis president reaffirms what many economic experts already had determined, but the message bears repeating: Rural Minnesota needs immigrants to work and live here.

Neel Kashkari visited Worthington for two days this month, and as MPR News reported, he said immigrants are helping that southwest Minnesota city grow, something many communities in rural parts of the state can only hope for.

A Worthington banker estimated that immigrants own more than a quarter of the businesses operating in that community. “If we embrace it, it’s what’s going to help rural Minnesota grow again,” said First State Bank President and CEO Greg Raymo.

Here, in the south-central area of the state, we have seen similar reliance on a diverse workforce both in small cities and in the regional center of Mankato. Meat plants in St. James, Madelia, Butterfield and Windom depend heavily on minority workers. Mankato manufacturing plants also hire immigrant workers, and a number of immigrants have become small-business owners.