Not moving to South Dakota


I’m running double duty these days, writing MinnEcon and temporarily editing MPR’s Minnesota Today page.

That job involves posting interesting stories from around Minnesota and I found one that deserves some space here.

The Marshall Independent reports that Marshall-based livestock feed maker Ralco Nutrition will expand operations in town, building a new mixing facility and warehouse.

What caught my eye was the quote from a Ralco exec that the company looked at South Dakota, with its cheap land and business-friendly tax structure, and decided they were better off here.

Doug Wing, Ralco vice president of operations, said the company was considering the option of expanding in South Dakota and other communities, but decided on local expansion instead.

“Ralco is committed to building rural communities and sustaining the agricultural way of life,”Wing said. “While we weighed options for expansion in South Dakota as well as other communities, we ultimately determined that expanding here would be in our best interest.

It’s a compelling point given that South Dakota was made to look like employment Shangri-La during the Minnesota governor election.

Republican Tom Emmer’s “Don’t lose another job to South Dakota” campaign had many people wondering just how much South Dakota was eating our employment lunch.

Yes, there’s no question South Dakota is more tax friendly. One group lauds South Dakota’s tax climate as the nation’s most business friendly and scorns Minnesota’s as among the worst.

The belief, though, that there’s an exodus of Minnesota businesses and jobs remains on shaky ground.

Anyone have first-hand experience losing a job to South Dakota? Drop me a line.

emmer2.jpgMPR Photo/Tom Weber

  • Zebulun

    South Dakota may be a good place to buy cheap industrial land and avoid taxes, but Minnesota is the better place to start a family. A good community is built with social capital; one cannot buy it. Perhaps someone should ask Emmer why he doesn’t live in South Dakota?

  • Craig

    Smart business people understand that cheap labor does not necessarily mean good labor. And, there are a number of factors that go into a decision to locate, or relocate, a business.

    The Lockheed decision to close the Eagan facility is a perfect example. Lockheed-Martin is closing the facility and moving the jobs to states with HIGHER taxes, location costs and labor rates than Minnesota.

    Minnesota has some issues that it needs to deal with, but we will not improve our business climate without investing what is needed to maintain the infrastructure, education system, and quality of life we expect and businesses look for.

  • John O.

    The “business climate” debate associated with Minnesota versus South Dakota has been going on since the early 1980’s when Governor Perpich and Governor Janklow had some very high-profile and pointed public spats at that time.