Minnesota sets up a trade office in Germany

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The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced today that Minnesota is setting up a trade office in Germany. The announcement during Gov. Dayton's trade mission to Germany, Sweden and Norway. DEED officials say the new trade office will be in the Dusseldorf-Cologne area.

DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said officials picked that region because it has a similar economic development emphasis to Minnesota. She said the region focuses on renewable energy, agriculture, medical technology and high technology.

"There are many states that are headquartered out of Berlin or Munich and we think this sets Minnesota apart," Sieben said.

Sieben says she expects the Trade Office to be up and running this fall. She said further details, like number of staffers, are still being worked out.

Gov. Dayton has reversed his opinion of state trade offices. During his 2010 campaign for governor, Dayton said he would close the Minnesota Trade Office to save money. Since then, he has said he believes trade offices are an important service to many Minnesota businesses.

Dayton said he thinks it could take a decade before officials should judge whether the Trade Office in Germany is a success. But he expressed confidence in the move because several Minnesota companies have set up operations in Germany.

"3M has decided that this is the best country in the world outside of the United State for them to develop their operation," Dayton said. "General Mills and Ecolab and other Minnesota  companies have chosen to be here. Their results are clearly warranted their investment, and, given time, this will produce a comparable results for the benefit for the people of Minnesota."

This is the first of three trade offices that are expected to be established in the coming months. The two-year state budget, which Dayton signed into law last month, allows the state to set up three more trade offices. Minnesota also has a trade office in Shanghai, China. Officials have not said where the other two trade offices will be located.

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