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Survey shows good economic news for region

The majority of Minnesota is expected to continue to experience strong economic growth over the next several months, according to new economic reviews and forecasts released Thursday by Secretary of State Steve Simon and the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs Research Institute.

The 2017 first quarter Minnesota Regional Economic and Business Conditions Reports predict all six planning areas — metro, central, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest — will experience either increased or steady economic growth in the coming months. The unemployment rate decreased in all six planning areas. Business filings also increased in four of the six planning areas statewide.

In Douglas County's region — the Northwest — the economy is expected to experience steady growth over the next several months, according to a variety of economic indicators. The Northwest Minnesota's leading economic indicators remained essentially unchanged in the first quarter, as two of the five components of the index increased.

There were 1,195 new business filings with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in Northwest Minnesota in the first quarter of 2017, representing a 2.4 percent decrease from one year ago.

Sixty-two percent of new business filers in the Northwest Minnesota planning area completed the new voluntary Minnesota Business Snapshot survey in this year's first quarter. Results of this survey indicate that about 3 percent of new filers come from communities of color; nearly 9 percent from veterans; more than 2 percent from the disability community; and less than 1 percent from the immigrant community. Thirty-nine percent of new business filings in Northwest Minnesota were initiated by women.

Employment decreased by 0.2 percent over the year ending March 2017. The regional unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in March, which was lower than the 6.6 percent rate observed one year ago.

The reports were developed by the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs Research Institute, as part of their ongoing partnership with the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State. The Secretary of State's Office reviews and approves all Minnesota business filings, and commissioned the reports to provide a perspective on business conditions and deliver a tool for entrepreneurs to better understand their region. There is one quarterly report for each of six statewide planning areas. The economic reviews and forecasts are based on a comprehensive examination of several datasets, including business filings.

"We continue to see solid economic performance across Minnesota's six planning areas, with a particularly strong outlook in the Twin Cities, Southeast, Southwest, and Northeast regions," said Rich MacDonald, report co-author and interim director of the School of Public Affairs Research Institute at St. Cloud State University. "Labor market conditions remain strong across the state as job vacancies remain elevated. Regional bankruptcies continue to trend downward and new business filings are rising across most of the state."