Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon announced last week the 2018 Minnesota Business Snapshot, a first of its kind report for use by businesses, non-profits, and policymakers throughout Minnesota. Designed in partnership with the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs Research Institute, the Minnesota Business Snapshot is the first publicly available compilation of economic and demographic characteristics of new business filers and of existing businesses that renew their filings annually.
“The idea for the [Minnesota] Business Snapshot began before I was first sworn in as Secretary of State,” said Secretary Simon. “In 2014, a military veteran approached me with a problem. He wanted to do business with other veteran-owned businesses, and he wished there was an easy way to find them. He asked me whether businesses could self-identify when they filed their paperwork with the Office of Secretary of State. And if so, would the office create a master list for public use. From that simple question, and many conversations that followed, the Minnesota Business Snapshot was born. I think back to that conversation often as a reminder that the best ideas come from the people of Minnesota.”
The Minnesota Business Snapshot started as a voluntary five question survey first offered to Minnesota business filers in September 2016. More than 60 percent of roughly 60,000 new business filers volunteered to answer the survey, and more than 118,000 existing Minnesota business filers did so as well. This high rate of voluntary responses has been critical to creating the snapshot.
“This annual report highlights some of the many ways that this unique dataset can be used to inform local, regional, and statewide business decisions,” said Dr. Richard MacDonald, interim director of the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs Research Institute. “In which industrial sectors are new business owners from a community of color in Ramsey County establishing new business entities? How does the demographic mix of continuing business owners differ between the northeast and southwest areas of the state? What are the revenue characteristics of new and continuing business filers in Clay County? Where are members of immigrant communities most likely to establish new businesses?
“Anyone wishing to explore answers to these—and countless other—questions about the characteristics of Minnesota’s new and continuing business entities will find the Minnesota Business Snapshot to be a valuable tool. With more than 60 percent of new Minnesota business entities completing the voluntary survey, the Minnesota Business Snapshot is truly unrivaled as a representative ‘snapshot’ of contemporaneous business patterns and the demographic characteristics of business owners in the North Star State.”
The potential uses of this emerging data set are both broad and deep. For example, the Minnesota Business Snapshot allows entrepreneurs, researchers, public officials, policy-makers, and economic developers to access business owner data on a regional basis, visualize patterns of business formation across the state, make granular comparisons of entrepreneurship variables, and track the changing composition of business ownership with respect to demographic variables, among other uses. This document, and annual versions to follow, will ultimately benefit Minnesotans who now have access to a trove of demographic information about the businesses that help drive the Minnesota economy.
The data within the Minnesota Business Snapshot, which is available for purchase, demonstrates the opportunity for economic advancement that entrepreneurship in Minnesota provides to veterans, women, communities of color, recent immigrants, and people with disabilities. Members of these communities comprise a far larger ownership share of new business filings, as compared to renewals of ongoing businesses. To purchase Minnesota Business Snapshot data, visit www.sos. state.mn.us/business-liens/business-liensdata/minnesota-business-snapshot-data.
The data compiled, layered over geographic variables, is valuable to individuals, businesses, business associations, chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, media outlets, academic institutions, and the public.