After 10 years living and working in New York City, last year I relocated back to the Twin Cities and discovered that something wonderful had happened while I was gone: Minnesota got itself some swagger.
Almost as much as our “Minnesota nice” culture, the state's residents are known for being “Minnesota modest.” Arrogance doesn't fit with our Scandinavian roots; flashiness is impossible when there's a foot of snow beneath your stilettos.
Many of us locals have always known that Minnesota boasted some of the most innovative and creative companies in the country. In recent months, however, all this Midwestern work ethic has started to get some national attention.
Minneapolis is a business community that is home to 18 Fortune 500 companies along with hundreds of public relations firms, digital and advertising agencies, and design shops.
Even more impressive is the latest study by Rise of the Creative Class author Richard Florida, which ranks the Twin Cities as the fifth-most creative region in the nation, just a hair behind San Francisco. With a “density of artistic and cultural creatives,” Florida writes, “the Twin Cities are a model for other communities when it comes to economic development.”
Doug Spong, president of Minneapolis-based Carmichael Lynch Spong, notes in the Star Tribune that tens of thousands of Minnesotans identify their labor of love as something to do with the creative economy here. More than 5,500 educated, well-compensated professionals work directly for agencies, while another 44,000 or so work in support of these firms.
St. Paul-based 3M, normally self-effacing almost to a fault, has lately been described as the greatest idea factory in the world – “smarter than Apple, more innovative than GE.”
“Flyover zone,” no more. It's enough to give even the most modest resident of the Mini-Apple a taste of Big Apple braggadocio.
Emily Buchanan is senior principal and chair of brand marketing and social engagement at Carmichael Lynch Spong.