Biomedical and Health Care is the largest employment cluster in the Northland with 20% of the regional workforce coming from several medical provider networks and a growing number of long-term residential care facilities and companies.
The Northland is a magnet for vocational rehabilitation and assisted living/extended care opportunities. With imminent baby boomer retirements and an aging population, home health care will continue to be a rapidly growing segment of health care services.
Several biomedical startup companies are located in the Northland. An abundance of natural resources is available to help them and other early-stage biotechnology companies grow.
The Northland's creative cluster embraces its entrepreneurial spirit, propensity for innovation, and commitment to research and learning.
Primary services include architectural/engineering, legal, consulting and real estate.
Secondary services continue to grow with back office support for emerging financial services and health care and the expanding renewable energy industry.
Moderate temperature averages and extremely low probability of natural disasters ideally position the region for housing data centers and other companies dependent on uninterrupted business.
Energy Alternatives/Renewable Energy
Energy can trace its regional origins to the late 1880s when several small electric utilities formed to serve lumber and shipping businesses. Today the Northland is home to a petroleum refinery and an oil pipeline.
The Port of Duluth-Superior transports products used to create energy throughout the nation. It handles more coal than any similar port in North America. It also is a hub for the transport of wind turbine components.
Investing in energy to fuel our natural resource-based economy ideally positions the Northland for new energy production, manufacturing, and servicing opportunities. A loyal, skilled workforce is a key asset with employee turnover in this sector at only 2.9%.
The forestry and fiber industry sector encompasses traditional paper, pulp, secondary wood products, and food manufacturing. There is considerable foreign and domestic investment into the region's papermaking infrastructure and workforce. These companies are pursuing efficiency and innovation to sustain and strengthen a well-developed cluster of firms manufacturing specialty wood products.
The Northland is well known for its food manufacturing and processing, which today includes wild rice, snack foods, caviar and other products. The University of Minnesota Duluth supports the food industry with its technology for extracting and isolating compounds from natural resources. Peat is being exported as a soil enhancer.
A virtually untapped market is biobusiness, which spans this cluster, plus innovative manufacturing, biomedical, and health care, as well.
Innovative manufacturing represents a broad spectrum of pioneering products through technology and research & development, including wood pellets, film, plastics, rubber, and precision fabrication of metal. Value-added products include parts used for excavation, bakery equipment, general aviation aircraft, aerial trucks, and medical devices.
These activities rely on understanding the complexities of designing, manufacturing, and assembling high value products. They depend on workers highly skilled in technology, such as computer-aided design, advanced manufacturing, and machinery operation.
Innovative manufacturing crosses over several cluster groups and builds on its strengths to create high value products from advanced materials. These strengths include rapid prototyping, engineering support, water-jet cutting, CNC punching, and metal forming.
This traditional industry sector is poised for significant transformation into value-added opportunities related to new direct reduced iron technology and non-ferrous minerals. If realized, the development of copper, nickel, and other precious metals promises economic development at a large scale.
While the sector is supported by a large supplier base, new opportunities in both value-added ferrous and non-ferrous are expected to create new and stabilize existing support businesses and the communities in which they are located.
This is a large cluster with massive output when operating at full capacity, contributing $3.1 billion to the state and region's economy. A loyal, skilled workforce is a key asset in this sector with employee turnover at only 2.6%.
Transportation differentiates this region from most because of its diverse options for low cost transport services, import, and export. Critical success factors include rail, a world port, aviation, and a strong highway network, all the result of millions of dollars of investment into regional infrastructure.
Four Class I railways in the region crisscross North America. The Port of Duluth-Superior has high capacity cargo dock operations. There are two international airports that offer commercial passenger and cargo services including Duluth which serves five major cities. The highway/Interstate system into and out of the area provides border-to-border shipment of goods.
Around-the-clock customs, freight forwarders and shipping agents at each port of entry, plus two prominent overnight carriers in Duluth are essential components to serving businesses that require next day shipment.