New Ulm Journal: Secretary of State seeks feedback from local businesses

By Clay Schuldt

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon visited New Ulm Thursday to speak with the area Chamber of Commerce.

NEW ULM – Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon visited New Ulm Thursday to speak with the area Chamber of Commerce. He also visited with five other chambers in southern Minnesota to receive feedback from business communities.

“This job cannot be done while just sitting behind a desk,” said Simon. “Especially on business issues.”

In speaking with New Ulm’s Chamber staff, Simon explained the Secretary State Office is heavily involved with business services and his visit intended to open a dialogue with area small businesses.

Simon discussed efforts to streamline services that will cut back on paperwork and allow businesses to spend more time running their business. His office reviews and approves all Minnesota business filings.

The office also commissions economic reports to provide a perspective on business conditions and delivers information for entrepreneurs to better understand their region. These economic reports are provided on a quarterly basis through a partnership with St. Cloud State University. The reviews provide customized economic reviews and forecasts on a regional basis. Quarterly reports divide the state into six regions.

Simon asked if there were any business-related concerns from the New Ulm Chamber.

New Ulm Economic Development Corporation Director Brian Tohal, commented on the need for online resources. “I see businesses interact with your office when they are first setting up the business,” said Tohal. “It is fairly complicated, and the trend I see is that people want to do it online.”

Chamber CEO Audra Shaneman emphasized the need for a larger workforce.

“Most if not all of our manufacturers are hiring, and it is effecting their ability to grow,” said Shaneman. “Small businesses are looking for talent and can’t access (employees) or can’t recruit.”

Simon said the question of how to attract people to move to the area exists in many communities in southern Minnesota.

Shaneman told Simon there are a series of lawsuits on disability claims against businesses not accessible to the disabled. These suits have not yet effected New Ulm, but businesses are concerned about the possibility of facing costly legal action, she said.

In regard to a recent report from CNBC that listed Minnesota as the Top State for Business in 2015, Simon said the ranking is something all Minnesota residents could take pride in and a sign that the state was doing things right.

“It’s a lot of people’s good work over a long period of time,” he said.