Gov. Walz leads trade mission to the UK and Finland, Crookston farmers part of trip

Times Report
Crookston Times

Two Crookston area farmers joined Governor Tim Walz on a trade mission trip to the United Kingdom and Finland with a focus on increasing state exports, promoting Minnesota as a premier destination for business investment, developing new business opportunities, and strengthening existing ties. Timothy "Tim" Dufault, Crookston School Board Member and Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotional Council Board Member and Wheat Farmer in Red Lake Falls attended the trip as well as Eric Samuelson who is President of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association and co-owner of RBJ's Restaurant in Crookston along with his wife, Kim.

“Minnesota is a great place to do business. Our goal is to share that message with the world, strengthening trade with our partners in Europe while expanding economic opportunity for businesses and families here in Minnesota,” said Governor Walz.

The trade mission to the United Kingdom and Finland occurred from November 13-19 with stops in the major business centers of London and Helsinki plus had four tracks of concentration: MedTech and Health, Environmental Technologies, Agriculture and Food, and Higher Education.

"Both locations – the United Kingdom and Finland – are important trade partners for Minnesota," said a media release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. "The United Kingdom was the state’s 8th largest export market in 2020. More than 70 UK-based companies operate at more than 180 business locations in Minnesota, and more than 60 Minnesota companies operate at about 150 business locations in the U.K. Total trade between Minnesota and Finland was valued at $58 million in goods in 2020 – where Minnesota imported $39 million from Finland and exported $19 million to Finland."

The trade mission kicked off in the United Kingdom with the first stop allowing Governor Walz the opportunity to lay a ceremonial Remembrance Day wreath in honor of 27 Minnesotan soldiers and sailors killed in WWI who are buried and commemorated at the Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial. The second day included visits with Minister Greg Hands of the State Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as well as Minister Penny Mordaunt of State Trade Policy, followed by a visit to Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London. The third day focused on networking events to increase trade and business between Minnesota and the United Kingdom.

In Finland, Governor Walz met with President Sauli Niinistö before meeting with leadership from UPM and Uponor, both of which have operations in Minnesota. The final day of the tour focused on networking to increase partnership and trade with Finnish companies.

"Businesses in Minnesota have a better chance of surviving beyond five years than in any other state in the nation, a compelling reason for businesses in both the United Kingdom and Finland to grow their investments and expand in Minnesota," the MDA release continued. "The mission brought the state’s business opportunities to the world and shared why Minnesota is an exceptional place to start, build, or grow a business."

Building off the recent launch of Minnesota’s “Build What Matters” campaign, the mission pitched Minnesota as the "problem-solving" capital of the United States.

"Minnesota has long been a state that builds businesses that make global transformations in a variety of sectors, including healthcare, clean energy, and agriculture," the MDA stated.

Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said the Governor's trade mission was an opportunity for them to showcase the many benefits of doing business with Minnesota, and having operations in the state.

“The U.K. is our 8th market for exports, and we believe the time is right to open even more doors for Minnesota’s exporters, including those at the cutting edge of technology in the medical sector, and those addressing the realities of climate change," Grove explained.

Grove added they were excited to visit companies like Uponor, with its global headquarters in Finland, since it has expanded operations 11 times in Minnesota since 1990.

"We want to share what Uponor already knows, that Minnesota’s innovative talent and skilled workforce can be depended on to drive your business to the next level,” he continued.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen mentioned that Minnesota is home to global food and agriculture companies whose products reach consumers in more than 125 countries and, by bringing a strong delegation of agriculture leaders to the U.K. and Finland, it helped them highlight the wealth of resources and opportunities Minnesota offers the world’s food industries.

Governor Walz was joined by First Lady Gwen Walz, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen, and representatives from the Minnesota Trade Office. The state delegation was also joined by business organizations and leaders from across Minnesota, including:

• Shahzad Ahmad, Associate Vice President of Center for International Studies, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud

• Joel Akason, Senior Vice President of Business Investment, GREATER MSP, St. Paul

• Jan Bauer, Consul, UK Government, Crystal

• Bryan Biegler, President, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Burnsville

• Aaron Budge, Minnesota State University, Mankato

• John Cooney III, Director, Government Relations, SkyWater Technology Foundry, Inc., Bloomington

• Kimberly Craig, Vice President of Enrollment Management, Concordia University, St. Paul          

• Jeff Davidman, Vice President of Government Affairs, Delta Air Lines        

• G. Anton Decker, MBBCh, President of Mayo Clinic International, Mayo Clinic, Rochester

• Steven Dickinson, Co-Chair of International Practice, Cozen O’Connor, Minneapolis

• Timothy Dufault, Board Member and Wheat Farmer, Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotional Council, Red Lake Falls

• Beverly Durgan, Dean, University of Minnesota Extension, Saint Paul

• Mohamed Farah, President, Kaah Transportation, Waite Park

• Kathryn Ferguson, Director of Trade and Business Development, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Duluth

• Bradley Ferguson, Chief Government Affairs Officer, SkyWater Technology Foundry, Bloomington                       

• Bodil Forsling, Tourism Account Executive, Mall of America, Bloomington

• Peter Frosch, President and CEO, GREATER MSP, St. Paul

• Jeffrey Grev, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Hormel, Austin

• Nicole Griensewic, Executive Director, Region Nine Development Commission, Mankato

• August Hinnenkamp, Co-Founder and CEO, CLO-CLO Vegan Foods, Edina

• Wendy Hinnenkamp, Founder, CLO-CLO Vegan Foods, Edina

• Harlan Jacobs, Director of International Business Development, Crotega, LLC, Crystal

• Patrick Kelly, Shareholder and Officer, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., Minneapolis

• Jukka Kukkonen, Chief Electronic Vehicle Educator and Strategist, Shift2Electric, St. Paul

• Elaine Kumpula, Honorary Consul of Finland and Partner, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Minneapolis

• Laura Lemke, Executive Director, Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, New Prague

• Amy Lindgren, President, Prototype Career Service, St. Paul

• Steven Massey, Superintendent, Forest Lake Area Schools, Forest Lake

• Meredith McQuaid, Associate Vice President & Dean, International Programs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

• Kenneth Morris, Founder and CEO, KnectIQ, Roseville

• Stephen Parente, Professor of Finance, Minnesota Insurance Industry Chair of Health Finance, Associate Dean, Carlson Global Institute, University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management, Minneapolis

• Eric Pasi, Chief Development Officer, Impact Power Solutions LLC, Roseville

• Kim Pearson, CEO, New Boundaries Technologies, Inc., Roseville

• Virginia Rutter, Manager, Community Relations, Clean Energy Economy MN, Minneapolis

• Eric Samuelson, President, Northarvest Bean Growers Association, Crookston

• Patrick Seeb, Executive Director Destination Medical Center, Rochester

• Joseph Smentek, Executive Director, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Mankato

• Kenneth Smith, President and CEO, Ever-Green Energy, St. Paul

• Jared Standish, Industry Liaison University of Minnesota - MnDRIVE Advancing Industry, Conserving Our Environment, St. Paul

• Jasmine Stringer, Founder and President, Carpe Diem with Jasmine, LLC., Minneapolis

• Brian Thalmann, Board Member, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Burnsville

• Greg Thomas, Sales and Marketing Director, Innovance, Albert Lea

• Loren Unterseher, Board Member, SkyWater Technology Foundry, Inc., Bloomington

• Robbyn Wacker, President, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud

• Richard Weiner, Vice President and Chair, International Law Practice Group, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A., Minneapolis

• Jonathan Weinhagen, President & CEO, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Minneapolis

• Donald Weinkauf, Dean of the School of Engineering, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul

• Gary Wertish, President, Minnesota Farmers Union, St. Paul

• Mark Wuollet, Vice President, Mark-Tech International LLC., Minneapolis

The Minnesota Agriculture team on the Trade Mission trip gathers for a photo after a meeting at the U.K. Department of Transportation
Tim Dufault, right, was part of the meeting with the Finnish Agriculture Ministry
Crookston farmers Eric Samuelson and Tim Dufault at the Minnesota Trade Mission trip in London. "Just a couple of Crookston farmers working to sell Minnesota crops," said Dufault in a Facebook post.
The Minnesota Agriculture Trade Delegation visited U.K. farms including the National Institute of Agriculture Botany near Cambridge