Home to several Fortune 500 companies and a thriving entrepreneurial spirit, the Twin Cities are the perfect place to pursue your career

Economists around the country agree that Minnesota is one of the most solid places for business given our state’s strong economic climate and high quality of life. Weighing in at 3.8 percent, our unemployment rate is well under the national average, we consistently best comparable metropolises in quality of life scores, and Fortune 500 company headquarters thrive, meaning you will too.

No matter your career path, the Twin Cities metro represents a strong, diverse and competitive place to start or further your professional development. We have more Fortune 500 companies than just about any other state in the country. What’s more is that Minnesota was recognized last year as the No. 1 state for achieving the American Dream.

In 2016, real estate firm Estately conducted a survey to determine the best places to reach the commonly held ideal known as the American Dream—reaching one’s highest potential, providing for a family and getting an education. While millions strive to reach it, many are unable to because of external factors. That’s why Estately gathered data from around the country and studied economic and educational success, home ownership, political participation, numbers of successful business people who were born in different countries and other factors to determine the perfect place to realize the American Dream.

Ranked on eight different indicators, Minnesota came out on top of the list, cementing our claim as a top business metropolis in the United States. And if the American Dream seems lofty and a little vague, consider the wealth of Fortune 500 companies whose headquarters are right here in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs truly represent a strong, competitive place to start or further your career, no matter the path or industry. Some 18 Minnesota companies made the 2017 Fortune 500 list of the largest public and closely held corporations in the United States based on revenue.

What’s more, seven of those 18 local businesses moved up in rank from the previous year. Minnetonka-based healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group once again ranked highest among Minnesota companies, coming in at No. 6 with $180 billion in revenue.

Additional Minnesota companies on the move in the rankings include U.S. Bancorp up six spots to 125; SuperValu up two places to 158; Land O’ Lakes nearing the 200 mark at 209; Xcel Energy up one spot to 256; and Patterson making an impressive leap to 466.

With continued success and incredible growth, four Minnesota companies are on the brink of breaking into a coveted Fortune 500 spot: Securian Financial Group, Polaris Industries, Valspar and Fastenal. Securian Financial Group jumped 19 spots this year, landing at 532; Polaris came in at 537 and Valspar at 578; and Fastenal came in just under the 600 mark at 591.


An outdoor shot of United Health Group's building.Image by Steve Niedorf/Greenspring Media

Additional Minnesota companies on the move in the rankings include 3M up three spots to 98th; U.S. Bancorp up two places to 138th; Ameriprise Financial up two spots to 247th; Xcel Energy up two into 255th place; Hormel Foods up one to the 310th spot; and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans up two spots to 333rd.

Three Minnesota companies are clearly on deck to break into the famous 500 should their incredible growth continue the way it has for the past few years: Valspar, Polaris Industries and Securian Financial Group. Polaris jumped 47 spots this year, landing at 574; Securian is up 39 spots ending at 602; and Valspar is up 25 spots at 570.

Given the prevalence of leading companies it shouldn’t be too surprising that Minnesota is billed as the state that offers residents the single best chance of achieving the quintessential American Dream, according to a recent study conducted by Estately.

Each year millions of people come to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream. Their goal is to work hard, get a job, buy a home, put their children through college and build a better life for their families. It’s a noble goal, and one that isn’t always easy to achieve—that’s why Estately set out to find where it is most attainable.

To do that, the firm sought out which U.S. states offered the best chances for economic and educational success, home ownership, and political participation, as well as had high numbers of foreign-born people who have already achieved the American Dream. The final rankings were determined by grading each of the 50 states using eight indicators and averaging the results. Here are Minnesota’s individual rankings, which when averaged, earned it the single best state to achieve that dream:



Hard Work: Rank 11

The average number of hours worked per day by employed people (Source: BLS America Time Survey)

Attainability of college degrees: Rank 10

Percentage of residents over age 26 with a bachelor's degree or higher (Source: U.S. Census)

Home ownershipRank 2

Rate of home ownership 2009-2013 (Source: U.S. Census)

Foreign-born residentsRank 23

Percentage of population born in other countries (Source: U.S. Census)

Median incomeRank 9

The median income of each state (Source: U.S. Census)

Income equalityRank 11

Gini Index for median income 2013 (Source: U.S. Census)

EmploymentRank 5

The state's unemployment rate (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Voter turnoutRank 3

Percentage of voters who participated in elections between 1980-2012 (Source: U.S. Elections Project)

Diverse Industries

Minneapolis has long been known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World” for its establishment as a major agriculture hub. Though we are many decades removed from Minneapolis’ milling heyday, Minnesota is still a major exporter of agricultural products, as well as the birthplace for companies like Pillsbury and General Mills, both of which originated in St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis.
Carrying on this legacy is General Mills, whose headquarters lie in Golden Valley. One of the world’s largest food companies, General Mills earned the No. 2 spot within the food, beverage and tobacco company category on JUST Capital’s list of America’s Most Just Companies in 2016. The ranking proves that General Mills is a company that treats its employees well and goes above and beyond to ensure a good quality of life.

Cargill is another household name in the agriculture industry. Founded in 1865, the company produces and markets food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Cargill is based in Wayzata and has seen massive growth in its lifetime—today it employs about 150,000 people in 70 countries and boasts sales of $107.2 billion. With numbers like that, it’s no wonder why Cargill made the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ list of the largest privately owned companies in 2016. (The company has only been knocked out of first place two times in the list’s 32-year history.)

Cargill’s lasting success is indicative of the major impact Minnesota has on America’s agriculture industry, along with other Twin Cities companies such as Supervalu, a grocery industry leader; Hormel, the food company made famous by Spam; and Mosaic, the world’s leading producer and marketer of concentrated phosphate and potash.

While it is strong, agriculture is not the only major industry in the Twin Cities. We have an excellent educational system that prepares a robust, varied workforce.

Many of our Fortune 500 companies’ headquarters are located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, including 3M, Best Buy, UnitedHealth Group and Xcel Energy. And retailing giant Target even calls the area home, with its headquarters in downtown Minneapolis. The company is known for its reasonable pricing, and for its commitment to charitable donations, giving 5 percent of its total income to organizations that support education, social services and the arts. Fortune ranked Target 39th in its list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2016.

An outdoor shot of Best Buy's Headquarters on a sunny day.Image by Best Buy

Another Twin Cities industry leader is 3M, formerly Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. 3M’s culture of innovation can be seen in its many inventions, including Scotch tape and Post-It notes, along with its 90,000-member employee base. The company consistently reports worldwide sales of about $30 billion and works all over the globe, its headquarters in St. Paul orchestrating it all.

Another recognizable retailer based in the Twin Cities is Best Buy, a Fortune 500 company whose headquarters lie in Richfield. The consumer electronics company’s stores see 600 million shoppers per year, not to mention some 1 billion online, and was named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality by the Human Rights Campaign twice (once in 2016 and again in 2017).

Getting Around

The Twin Cities boast a big-city economy without the big-city hassles—namely long commutes. The average commute for Twin Cities residents is only 25 minutes, and major arteries bisecting the metro make getting from A to B extremely easy. The main freeways include Interstate 94, running east and west through both downtowns; Interstates 494 and 694, which create a large “loop” around the metro area; and 35W and 35E, which run north and south through Minneapolis and St. Paul, respectively.

And if commuting by car isn’t up your alley, the Twin Cities have plenty of public transit options to take advantage of. Metro Transit, the area’s public transportation authority, operates hundreds of bus routes and the METRO Blue Line light rail that runs from the Mall of America to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and on to downtown Minneapolis. There’s also the Red Line, which connects Apple Valley to the Mall of America (as well as the Blue Line), and the more recent Green Line, which connects downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul.

Additionally, the Northstar Commuter Rail Line connects residents who live in the northern suburbs with downtown Minneapolis. Regional bus companies also provide rush-hour service to and from communities to both downtown areas. Most commuters split their time between shuttle, bus or METRO service, and park-and-ride ramps.




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