Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Midwest Spotlight: Twin Cities On the Move

Minneapolis, St. Paul Minnesota.
Walter Bibikow | Getty Images

Minneapolis–St. Paul

  • Population: 3,555,500
  • Unemployment rate: 3.1 percent
  • Median Household income: $72,629
  • Cost of living: 1 percent above national average
  • College attainment: 40.5 percent

Everyone dreams of living and working in a city that has it all: Robust job opportunities, affordable housing, access to great health care and schools, relatively affordable housing and an abundance of outdoor amenities, the list goes on.

One area that checks all the boxes is Minnesota's famous Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, home to 65 percent of the state's population.

The urban metropolis serves as the state's main economic artery, and is fast-becoming one of the most business friendly regions in the nation, thanks to a thriving labor force, diversified talent pool and tightly-knit cluster of corporate conglomerates.

Boasting big-city amenities and a friendly Midwestern feel, the job market in the Twin Cities is moving from strength to strength, while the unemployment rate continues to drop.

And while Minnesota winters can be brutal, locals have not let the weather hold them back.

According to the Greater Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership, the Twin Cities' labor force has grown by 4.6 percent over the last five years – far greater than the 4.1 percent figure nationally over the same period.

19 Fortune 500 Firms Call Greater MSP Home

Andy Cecere, chairman, president and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, ranked #122 on the Fortune 500, tells CNBC's Net/Net what makes the region so attractive.

"There is something special about Minnesota, which is why we are proud to call it home. It is both family and business friendly – a place to raise your kids and also to create shareholder value – combining commitments to education, health and financial well-being, innovation and Midwestern values. Our customers benefit from these attributes, which extend beyond our Minnesota borders, allowing us to be a financial partner they know and trust."

The local metro economy added 28,000 jobs through the third quarter of 2018, mainly centered around downtown Minneapolis, which grew six percent year-over-year to 43,456.

Greater MSP also continued to lure young professionals and creative class workers, with net migration of workers, age 24 to 35, hitting 8,951 year-to-date.

Projections call for 12 percent additional growth over the next 20 years, thanks in part to its centralized location, with most travelers able to reach either coasts within a three hours flight, or less.

Twin Cities: Midwestern Miracle

As to why Minneapolis remains a thriving hub for innovation, Myron Orfield, law professor at the University of Minnesota, attributes this to the city's ability to draw top tier talent from across the Midwest, with 40 percent of the population attaining a bachelor's degree or higher.

"Over 35 universities and colleges are found in Greater MSP, all providing an amazing feeder for some of the world's most successful companies."

And it's not just Minnesotans relocating to the Twin Cities, either. Over the past decade, the region added 11,000 foreign-born residents.

Piper Jaffray, a leading investment bank and asset management firm, has more than 50 locations worldwide, but makes its corporate headquarters in downtown Minneapolis.

Piper Jaffray CEO, Chad Abraham, told CNBC's Net/Net why it is a great time to be a professional in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"Minnesota has developed leading companies in not just one industry, but multiple – from healthcare (Medtronic, UnitedHealth), finance (US Bancorp, Piper Jaffray, Ameriprise) and retail (Target, Best Buy) to agriculture (Cargill, Land O'Lakes) and food (General Mills, Hormel). That diversification allows the state's economy to remain strong.

We have a business environment that is backed by the right conditions – education, affordability, healthcare and infrastructure – and I do think the Midwest culture plays a role; we have plenty of hard-working people who trust one another and want to do the right thing. In addition, I am always hearing employees say they feel like Minnesota has a perfect balance of having good opportunities to build a career and an amazing place to raise a family."

CNBC's NET/NET travels to Minneapolis September 12th, 2018.

Fortune 500 Companies In Greater MSP

#5 UnitedHealthGroup
#39 Target
#72 Best Buy
#96 CHS
#97 3M
#122 U.S. Bancorp
#180 Supervalu
#182 General Mills
#193 C.H. Robinson Worldwide
#215 Ecolab
#216 Land O'Lakes
#252 Ameriprise Financial
#266 Xcel Energy
#343 Thrivent Financial
#382 Mosaic
#462 Securian Financial
#490 Patterson Cos.
#496 Polaris Industries