Minnesota Involves Labor and Nonprofit Organizations in Economic Development Council – Dakota Free Press

I’m giving the South Dakota government a hard time for its close business-über-alles mentality. Our short-sighted willingness to do anything for money leads to CAFO air and water pollution, super-spreader rallies in the midst of a pandemic, undercompensation for workers and underinvestment in public goods.

Of course, each state seeks to be of service to large corporations. Even our socialist neighbors east in Minnesota are encouraging businesses to build and expand in the Twin Cities and around these 10,000 lakes. Minnesota just manages to do 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 significantly better salaries.

And even when Minnesota creates a new committee to work on economic development, they don’t just pick a bunch of corporate buddies to figure out how to plunder the treasure and concentrate the wealth among their one percent friends. They include worker and social justice advocates to focus on share the wealth with all Minnesotans:

Governor Tim Walz called on 15 business and nonprofit leaders to form a Economic expansion council to address Minnesota’s labor shortage and ensure the state’s economic recovery is fair.

… The board 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 a one-year term, include Neel Kashkari, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Bharti Wahi, executive director of the 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 harsh on people and communities of color.

“We see that day in and day out low income people are really struggling to make ends meet even in the midst of a strong economic 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 could have about economic development if, among all the bankers and realtors and other lawsuits, South Dakota Economic Development Council included the CEO of Feeding South Dakota and the president of South Dakota Voices for Peace. Imagine if the next governor chose as the next one Head of Economic Development not another buddy-capitalist pocket lining but one of the Sisters of the Presentation, or perhaps the president of the South Dakota Federation of Labor.

Economic development should be more than favors for big capitalists and the fantasy that runoff is something other than pissing on it. Economic development should look at the economy as a whole, and our economic development committees should represent all interests.


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