Dayton launches summit to seek ideas for more jobs

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton convened a summit on improving Minnesota’s job climate on Tuesday with a plea to make it “a day for no politics and polemics” and “a day for ideas not ideology.” But he didn’t put forward new proposals of his own.

The first-term Democrat opened the meeting of more than 800 business leaders, academics and government officials in downtown St. Paul then sat close by as participants discussed challenges and potential solutions.

“I’m here to listen, not to talk. To prejudge or try to direct 13 breakout panels to me wasn’t well-advised. Now is the chance for them to come forward with their ideas,” Dayton said during a morning break.

Minnesota is faring better than the national average when it comes to economic indicators like unemployment, but the state’s jobless rate still approaches 7 percent.

Some entrepreneurs at the conference said one big hurdle is freeing up seed money and other capital to help small businesses and startups grow. Other problems being discussed were rising health care costs and government regulation.

Bill George, who formerly steered medical device powerhouse Medtronic, said colleges and employers need to do a better job of identifying and teaching essential skills for the evolving job market. Businesses built on technical prowess will be hungry for workers once an expected retirement bulge hits, he said.

“The greatest risk is we aren’t training people for jobs of the future. We’re trying to find them jobs of the past,” George said.

On Monday, Republicans who control the Legislature said they would push measures next year that would scale back government regulation, cut business property taxes and trim corporate income tax rates.