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Good Question: Minnesota & Fortune 500 Companies

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's a source of pride for many Minnesotans – the number of Fortune 500 companies that call Minnesota home.

"We live in an amazing state, so I thought a big percentage were here," said Diane Anderson, of Minneapolis.

There are 19 Fortune 500 companies in Minnesota. The top three are United Health (#17), Target (#36) and Best Buy (#61). The full is available by state at the Fortune 500 website. Per capita, the Land of 10,000 Lakes comes in second behind Connecticut.

Why are there so many Fortune 500 companies in Minnesota? It's a question Doug Baker, Chairman and CEO of Ecolab (#229), gets asked a lot.

"There's a lot of conjecture, but the themes that seem to make the most sense to me is, first, talented workforce," he said. "We have a highly educated workforce; we have a great work ethic."

Baker is also the chairman of Greater MSP, Minneapolis-St. Paul Economic Regional Development Partnership. He says we have a great workforce because education has been a priority.

Baker says the people who live here like living in Minnesota. He also mentioned the companies built around these large companies.

"Over time, I think we've built a virtuous cycle where you have great services that are built around these businesses -- say accountants, lawyers, agencies, PR firms," Baker said. "And we now have, I think, a very good situation for companies to prosper here and I think companies are."

Baker says companies need to weigh the higher taxes in Minnesota with the higher quality of life.

"I would not lead with the tax conversation," he said. "We have a high-quality area, we know that takes investment. But, at the same time, prices matter, and we have to be cautious about how we handle taxes."

Across the country, California tops the list at 54, New York and Texas are tied for second at 52. After that, it goes Illinois (32), Ohio (27), Virginia (23), Pennsylvania (21) and New Jersey (21). Michigan and Minnesota are tied at 19.

"We're sort if in the middle," said Anderson. "It's easy to get to for people travelling internationally."

Of Minnesota's 19 companies, all but five were started in the state. The others were based partly in the Upper Midwest.

Most recently, Minnesota lost Northwest Airlines, but gained Mosaic, a company created from Cargill.

"It's a very dynamic list," Baker said. "We all think the Fortune 500 is a very stable group. That's just not the case."

Here's a list of Minnesota Fortune 500 companies:

17. United Health
36. Target
61. Best Buy
69. CHS, Inc.
86. Supervalu
101. 3M
132: U.S. Bancorp
169. General Mills, Inc.
172. Medtronic, Inc.
194. Land O'Lakes
229. Ecolab
237. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
246. The Mosaic Company
263. Ameriprise Financial
266. Xcel Energy
319. Hormel Foods Corporation
325. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
457. St. Jude Medical, Inc.
500. Nash Finch Company

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