State Commissioner for DEED hears from businesses and tourism leaders on the importance of talent and collaboration for economic development


St. Paul – Yesterday, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove and Explore Minnesota Tourism Executive Director Lauren Bennett McGinty hosted a campaign-focused roundtable “Build What Matters” and how tourism, talent, and small businesses are directly linked to economic and community development.

Minnesota has long been home to businesses and people that make our state extraordinary. During the discussion, representatives of tourism, trade and business explained how they carry on this tradition.

“Yesterday we heard from talented business leaders and owners about what makes Minnesota the best place to live, collaborate and do business,” said Steve Grove, DEED Commissioner. “We have a long history of building things that improve the global economy. Our diversity of cultures, economic landscapes, environments and even seasons means we speak the truth when we say there is something here for everyone. world.”

“There is great collaboration between businesses and sectors in Duluth that is leading to strong economic development and growth in the region,” said Lauren Bennett McGinty, executive director of Explore Minnesota Tourism. “It’s happening everywhere, from the craft beverage industry to the aviation sector.”

Yesterday’s conversation focused on what can be done to attract startups, workers and new residents to Duluth and Minnesota, which in turn improves tourism opportunities, the labor pipeline and the overall Minnesota economy. The attributes that set Minnesota apart are detailed at

Roundtable participants included:

• Brian Hanson, President and CEO of APEX

• Mark Emmel, President and COO, Lion Hotel Group / Holiday Inn

• Laura Mullen, Co-Founder/VP of Outreach and Marketing, Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

• Tom Sega, CEO, Duluth Pack

• Matt Baumgartner, President, Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce

“Economic developers are always looking to coordinate with tourism to make our state welcoming and a great place to build a business and a family,” said Brian Hanson, president and CEO of APEX.

“Why Minnesota? I like to say ‘why not Minnesota?!’ because it has so much to offer as a place to live and visit. This includes a fantastic education system from early childhood to post-secondary, which also contributes to workforce development,” said Mark Emmel, President and COO, Lion Hotel Group “It’s a fabulous place with endless opportunities to explore, watch professional sports, start a family and grow a business.”

“We’re in a great phase of entrepreneurial growth in Duluth. And entrepreneurs are talented at meeting challenges like COVID. We’re always asking, ‘What’s next, how do you handle this gracefully, and how do we keep customers central to the experience?” said Laura Mullen, Co-Founder/VP of Outreach and Marketing, Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

“People talk about four distinct seasons, and you’ll definitely experience them in Minnesota!” said Tom Sega, CEO of Duluth Pack. “We find reasons to thrive in all seasons. We have the largest freshwater lake in the world, 1,000 foot ships that pass by, a safe and friendly atmosphere with wonderful restaurants and small businesses, and the area canoe Boundary Waters. And in terms of access to talent, we have tough souls and hard-working people who create a strong, loyal and talented workforce.”

“Our world-class medical district in Duluth is a big part of why my family chose to live here,” said Matt Baumgartner, president of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s also a great place to raise a family – to do that you need strong healthcare and educational opportunities, support services, great neighborhoods, natural beauty and amenities, and a dynamically growing economy that can survive the ups and downs of time.”

DEED is the state’s premier economic development agency, promoting recruitment, business expansion and retention, workforce development, international business, and community development. For more details about the agency and its services, visit the DEED website, the website, or follow us on Twitter.


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