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Competitive Industry Clusters and Transportation in Minnesota

Competitive Industry Clusters and Transportation in Minnesota

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In January 2015, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) released the report Transportation Planning to Support Economic Development: An Exploratory Study of Competitive Industry Clusters and Transportation in Minnesota (PDF).  This report was completed by a team at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs for MnDOT. The research used the U.S. Cluster Mapping Tool, developed by Harvard Business School and funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, to identify industry clusters for 8 metropolitan and 17 micropolitan, small urban, areas.  Through interviews and site visits with businesses, the research team determined the competitive importance of various modes of transportation.  This information may be useful to both transportation planners and economic development professionals seeking to support industry clusters.

Businesses in the various clusters cite the importance of low-cost rail access for some types of businesses, the availability of appropriate rail cars or trucks, reliable transportation for workers (particularly those with long commutes).  For larger loads, differing size and weight restrictions for local roads and bridges result in complicated logistics and circuitous routing in some instances.  Telecommunications reduces the need to travel to other locations outside the region, allowing some businesses to overcome challenges associated with being located in an isolated rural area.   Some industries rely on access to air travel, and delay at large airports outside the state can be costly to accommodate.

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