Talent-friendly Minnesota trumps a neighboring state

It’s been a steady drumbeat of “not business friendly” over the years as opponents of Minnesota’s tax structure have lamented the state isn’t more like South Dakota.

Now it’s South Dakota’s turn to lament the loss of a company to a neighboring state.

“What we do is so unique that because we’re not a restaurant or oil-change place, it’s too scary or risky,” Valerie Carlson, who runs a letterpress company, tells the Argus Leader newspaper.

It’s too expensive to run her business in South Dakota anymore, so she and her partner are moving to the Twin Cities, which has more people from which to find employees.

In a larger market, “there’s more people who already do the type of weird stuff we do that we can hire,” Carlson said.

Columnist Jodi Schwan acknowledges there’s something Minnesota has that South Dakota doesn’t — lots of talent.

“Raising capital is hard. They’ve got a valid point. And it is a tight workforce. …We need more talent in South Dakota. One of my concerns is when do we hit the ceiling of the talent pool? Is there a time we have to open a regional office somewhere else? It’s not as though I don’t see that or I’m not thinking about it. It is very real.”

It is real, and we all share responsibility for attracting talent to this community. I don’t know how or why Spark Letterpress failed to connect with resources needed for growth, but there’s probably fault to spread around.

I take some of it for not stopping by their downtown store last year to introduce myself, as I try to do with many new businesses. If I had done that here, I would have heard their story, and I’d like to think I would have told it sooner.

“But there’s something about … what they do that’s so tangible and so well-crafted, that by virtue of being in the community, they made the community better. I’d like to think we could do better to support businesses like that,” Weber said.

Me, too. I keep thinking how many communities try hard to attract just one upstart, creative business to spark their economy. We had Spark Letterpress. Now, we have a lesson.