Minneapolis, St. Paul and the greater metro area are economic hubs thanks to many large and small businesses alike. Plus, unlike other major cities around the country, Minneapolis and St. Paul aren’t isolated; they partner with the metro area to provide community-centered atmospheres and impressive job opportunities across all industries. Above all, 17 Fortune 500 companies call Minnesota home, according to Fortune’s 2019 list released in May.
The state’s tried-and-true business powerhouses include 3M (which clocks in at 95 on the Fortune 500 list, two spots up from 2018), Hormel Foods Corp. (ranked at 328), Land O’Lakes Inc. (212), and Ecolab, Inc. (215). In the top 10, we have one company, UnitedHealth Group, at No. 6, right behind Amazon.com. Local retail giants Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. Inc. rank at 39 and 74, respectively, and Best Buy just announced its first female CEO in the company’s history, as Hubert Joly steps down from his role. A big jump by Polaris Industries—who debuted on the list in 2018—lands the company at 476, 20 spots higher than last year.
It’s not hard to see, then, why the Twin Cities are considered a competitive place to start or further your career. In fact, WalletHub listed Minneapolis as the 12th best city for job searching in 2019, with St. Paul listed at 25. The U.S. News & World Report Survey also ranked Minneapolis and St. Paul as the sixth best places to live in the nation, taking into account job market, value, quality of life and more.
The business accolades in the Twin Cities don’t end with 17 Fortune 500 companies, either. A few 2017 and 2018 Fortune 500 newcomers have dipped just below the top 500 threshold, with Securian Financial Group coming in at 506 and Patterson Companies at 510. Fastenal hasn’t reached the Fortune 500 yet, but the company did vault ahead 22 spots from 566 to 544. Minnesota is also home to nearly 510,000 small businesses, many located in the metro area. With all of these options, Minnesota’s unemployment rate sits at 3.1 percent, considerably lower than the national average of 4 percent.
On top of all of this, Minnesota is reportedly the third happiest state in the nation. WalletHub analyzed all 50 states using 31 metrics—including sports participation, depression rates and income growth—to determine the ranking. Business-specific metrics included unemployment rate, job security, job satisfaction, commute time and number of work hours. These results speak to the welcoming, inspiring work culture in the Twin Cities, perfect for professionals in any career.
No matter what career path you want to follow, Minneapolis and St. Paul have opportunities in every industry.
Historically, the Twin Cities area specialized in agricultural pursuits. In fact, Minneapolis was once known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World.” Although the city’s milling days are behind it, its agricultural affinity is still in full force. General Mills, located in Golden Valley and one of the largest companies in the Twin Cities, has provided agriculturally based foods, products and services for decades.
Alongside its historical Gold Medal flour brand, which is still the No. 1 flour vendor in the U.S., General Mills produces a wide range of brands—such as Pillsbury, Yoplait, Cheerios (among other cereals), Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker and Cascadian Farm.
Through General Mills and other agriculturally focused businesses, Minnesota remains a major exporter of agricultural products. Wayzata-based Cargill is another big name in the industry. Founded in 1865, the privately-owned company produces and markets food and agricultural products and services, and has diversified into financial and industrial areas, as well. As of 2018, Cargill employed 155,000 people, reported $114.7 billion in revenue and had a presence in over 70 countries. Cargill also secured the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ list of the largest privately-owned companies in 2017. The company has been knocked out of first place only twice in the list’s history.
Another sizable business in the Twin Cities is 3M, located in Maplewood, just east of St. Paul. Formerly called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., 3M has been a top-tier manufacturer since 1902. The company has expanded to include automotive products, health-care products and everything in between. They are known for ever-popular Post-It Notes and Scotch tape, as well as their 91,000-member employee base. 3M consistently appears within the top 100 on the Fortune 500 list, offers many opportunities in an impressive scope of fields for any professional, and is one of many local companies focused on engineering and manufacturing.
Another Twin Cities Fortune 500 company making waves is Xcel Energy (No. 274). Headquartered in Minneapolis, Xcel is a national leader in the power sector and is the first major U.S. utility provider to promise to go carbon-free, with the goal of 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. Xcel also recently announced a plan to retire two coal-powered plants a decade earlier than originally thought—a big deal, since the plants are the largest sources of carbon in Xcel’s system. In 2018, the company was also awarded Utility Dive’s “Utility of the Year” award for a project adding 12 wind farms in seven states and, in conjunction with Google, developing new technology that would allow customers to personalize energy management.
Two big benefits of living around Minneapolis and St. Paul are the convenient commute times and the straightforward transportation options. The average resident’s commute is just 25 minutes, thanks to a carefully designed web of roadways. There are several major highways and interstates around the cities: Interstate 94 runs east and west through both downtowns, Interstates 494 and 694 form a loop around the metro area, and 35W and 35E run north and south through Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively. By the end of the 2020 construction season, the new and improved 35W will open with extended express lanes, reconstructed bridges and a new rapid transit station.
More transit options are available, with most commuters dividing their commutes among public bus and light rail services, park-and-ride ramps, and shuttles.
Metro Transit, the area’s public transportation authority, operates hundreds of bus routes and a light rail system with three separate lines. The Metro Blue Line runs from downtown Minneapolis through to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and to Mall of America. The Red Line, which isn’t a light rail but a Bus Rapid Transit, connects at Mall of America and goes farther south to Apple Valley. And the Green Line links downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul, ending at Union Depot Station.
As another option, the Northstar Commuter Rail Line connects residents living in the northern suburbs to downtown Minneapolis. It goes as far north as Big Lake (which is about 45 miles away), and a couple options take you even farther to St. Cloud. Bus companies also provide rush-hour service between regions and in both downtown areas.
By the Numbers
Minnesota Fortune 500 Companies
6: UnitedHealth Group
74: Best Buy
117: U.S. Bancorp
200: General Mills
212: Land O’ Lakes
185: C.H. Robinson
249: Ameriprise Financial
274: Xcel Energy
325: The Mosaic Company
351: Thrivent Financial
476: Polaris Industries
(Source: Fortune, 2019)
Minnesota Companies on Deck
506: Securian Financial Group
510: Patterson Companies
Companies that Care
Twin Cities businesses don’t just care about the bottom line; they invest in their employees and surrounding communities. Weighing factors such as employee relations, human rights and philanthropy, Corporate Responsibility Magazine ranked seven Minnesota companies on its annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens list in 2019.
3: General Mills
67: Best Buy
99: Xcel Energy
Most Ethical Companies
Five Twin Cities companies were named to the Ethisphere Institute’s 2019 list of World’s Most Ethical Companies.
3M: Post-It Notes
General Mills: Wheaties
Red Wing shoes
Spotlight: Land O’Lakes
Farmer-owned since 1921, Land O’Lakes was once a small dairy co-op that focused on the production of butter. Today, it’s a Fortune 500 company with 10,000 employees and four main businesses spanning dairy foods, animal feed and agricultural services. The company also places emphasis on aiding smaller agricultural communities all over the world. Ranked third on the National Cooperative Bank’s list of cooperatives, Land O’Lakes brought in $15 billion in net sales in 2018, and $194 million of it returned to the company’s 751 co-op members. Headquartered in Arden Hills, Land O’Lakes has appeared on the Fortune 500 list for 15 years and has received many accolades for its efforts in sustainability, agricultural conservation and stewardship. One of its business units, SUSTAIN, specifically works to protect air, soil and water quality.