Secretary of State talks business in Bemidji
BEMIDJI--When Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon began his term in January, he realized he didn't want to just stay at his desk in St. Paul. "We have too many partnerships, whether it's with businesses, chambers or on the election side with...
BEMIDJI-When Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon began his term in January, he realized he didn't want to just stay at his desk in St. Paul.
"We have too many partnerships, whether it's with businesses, chambers or on the election side with administrators around the state to just sit still in the office," Simon said, describing why he is now trying to visit all 87 counties in Minnesota.
On Thursday, Simon's tour of the state brought him to Bemidji, where he spoke with Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce President Lori Paris regarding the status of business in Greater Minnesota.
"What we talked about today was the same thing that I've been doing about around the state, which is discussing matters important to chambers and their members," Simon said. "We're sort of the gateway to commerce in Minnesota because all of the businesses have to file with our office. So what I've talked about is some of the ways we are trying to create value for businesses."
As an example, Simon referenced new quarterly economic reports being introduced in six regions of Minnesota. Simon said the reports, which have been made possible through a collaboration with St. Cloud State University, include data and trends helpful to businesses and commerce organizations.
"To my knowledge, we're the first office in the country to put together a report that breaks down different regions of a state for business," Simon said. "We're trying to streamline things at the Secretary of State office, so businesses can get in and get out faster. We've already redone our website, cut down on steps for transactions and made more functions available online."
For the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, Thursday marked the first time a Secretary of State visited the office.
"I was impressed that he cared enough to come out and visit the community and talk with the Chamber and get the business perspective," Paris said. "It was a nice opportunity to share some of our local concerns that we've been dealing with for years like regulations, transportation and road conditions."
"They have an interesting and effective marketing tool used in Bemidji to get qualified employees," Simon said. "Lori (Paris) talked about how businesses can show that the region is close to 50,00 people in population and that there are plenty of lakes and outdoor activities. It uses the high quality of life as a tool."
On Thursday, Simon also spoke with officials at the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, attended the 2015 Leech Lake Tribal Council State of the Band Address and visited with a domestic violence agency and a Safe at Home Application Assistant in International Falls.
Simon said he has already visited more than 50 counties in Minnesota and hopes to meet with county auditors to also speak about the 2016 elections as his tour progresses.
Today, Simon plans to meet with tribal leaders from the Red Lake Nation. He also will visit Baudette, Roseau, Hallock, Warren and Thief River Falls.