University of Minnesota
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The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the University of
Minnesota's school of policy and planning.


State and Local Policy Program

Industry Cluster Studies

The State and Local Policy Program has conducted many industry cluster studies in Minnesota. They are listed below, along with a list of other states that are pursuing an industry cluster development strategy.

Research Studies

  • Biotechnology in Minnesota: Enhancing the Life Sciences Ecosystem (2011)
    There is great potential for biotech in Minnesota with its talented local workforce, strong research presence from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, and a transferrable knowledge and skills from the medical device value chain.
  • Minneapolis St. Paul Bio-Based Products Cluster (2011)
    The Minneapolis and St. Paul region is currently in the early stages of developping a bio-products cluster. This emerging cluster includes businesses developing consumer and industrial products from renewable resources such as corn, soybeans, and forest products. The cluster is in its infancy but has the potential to unleash a new wave of wealth and job creation in the region.
  • Greater MSP IT Cluster Study (2011)
    This report evaluates the presence and competitiveness of an information technology (IT) cluster in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The report recommends policy options to grow and retain home-grown IT businesses and attract similar businesses to the MSP region for the long term.
  • Corporate Headquarters and Professional Services in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Region: Recommendations for Enhancing Our Economic Competitiveness (2011)
    This report describes the competitive advantage corporate headquarters, startup and spin-off firms, and the professional services have from their location in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region and the trends and factors that will influence the competitiveness of these firms in the future.
  • The Rochester, Minnesota, Health Services Cluster: An Analysis of Competitiveness (2010)
    Rochester, Minnesota, is a small metropolitan region with an extraordinary health services industry dominated by the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. The draw of the Mayo Clinic and the recession-resistant health care industry have led to strong economic growth and an increasingly educated workforce in the region, both factors that support higher wages and improved quality of life for Rochester residents compared to residents of surrounding communities and similar cities across the nation.
  • A Cluster Strategy Study of Printing, Publishing and Advertising in Minnesota (2010)
    This study examines the interrelationship of Minnesota's historically competitive printing and publishing industry cluster with advertising and creative services in Minnesota.
  • Minneapolis - St. Paul Metropolitan Region Creative Industries Cluster (2010)
    The Minneapolis - St. Paul region has historically represented a significant force in the arts, displaying high visibility and a national reach for its artistic and cultural ventures. Through the clustering of artistic, entertainment, corporate, cultural, media, philanthropic, and higher education institutions, the region has developed a well recognized strategic presence that both fosters and claims a wide-variety of creative resources.
  • Automation on the Prairie: Production Technology in West Central Minnesota (2010)
    The core industries of the West Central Minnesota automation cluster produce machinery and controls for manufacturing automation, including packaging, conveying, hoisting, and machining equipment.  Roughly 3% of the region’s workforce - and 21% of manufacturing - are directly employed in automation industries. Most firms are relatively small, with the largest having roughly 500 employees.
  • Minneapolis - St. Paul Metropolitan Region Medical Device Industry Cluster (2010)
    Cluster study identifies the drivers of the cluster's competitive advantage in the region, the weaknesses, and opportunities. The report recommends short, medium and long-term action steps for achieving a bold culture change in the industry.
  • Minneapolis - St. Paul Metropolitan Region Distribution Services Industry Cluster (2010)
    Through a quantitative and qualitative analysis, this report identifies the source of the distribution services cluster's competitive advantage in the region, the loss of competitive advantage during the last decade report identifies the conducted in partnership with University of Minnesota Duluth's Bureau Business and Economic Research and uses Porter's framework to describe the growth of four key industry clusters in the region: forest products; tourism; health services; and information technology.
  • Minneapolis - St. Paul Metropolitan Region Financial Services Industry Cluster (2010)
    While the Twin Cities region may not be able to compete with Financial Services cluster leaders like New York and Chicago, this report provides a series of recommendations to make the region a thriving business center and a national leader in community banking, developing emerging markets, and cost-effective health insurance carriers.
  • Minnesota Power Generation and Transmission Industry Cluster (2010)
    This report provides a plan for how Minnesota's renewable energy generation and transmission cluster can become a driver of economic growth. The plan involves collaboration between industry stakeholders and public sector partners and changes in public policy.     
  • Central Minnesota Processed Foods Industry Cluster (2010)
    Central Minnesota has long enjoyed being an agricultural leader in the Upper Midwest Region. This legacy is also a driver of the strong processed food cluster in the region. In order to maintain its competitive advantage, the cluster must leverage innovation in the face of industry-wide restructuring. The report recommends focusing on partnerships in order to foster innovation in Central Minnesota.
  • The Grain Milling and Oilseed Processing Industry Cluster Report for State of Minnesota Regions 9 & 10 (2008)
  • The Biotechnology Cluster in Washington: Opportunities for Growth (2008)
    The biotechnology cluster in Washington is strong, innovative and growing, but continued growth of this cluster may be limited unless some basic plans are put in place to benefit these innovators. This study explores the biotechnology industry and the cluster created around it.
  • Minnesota's Financial Services Cluster: DEED's Role in Maximizing Strengths and Mitigating Risks (2008)
  • Minnesota's Computer and Information Technology Cluster (2008)
  • Energizing Natural Competitiveness: Hawaii's Renewable Energy Cluster (2008)
    Hawaii’s abundance of renewable energy sources such as wind, wave, sun, geothermal, and biofuel crops, create the perfect atmosphere for renewable energy research and development activities. Numerous efforts for renewable energy production are already underway in Hawaii and mounting enthusiasm around environmental concerns coupled with historically high gas prices are increasing market demand and innovation efforts.
  • State of Delaware Cluster Analysis (2008)
    The development of the Health Sciences cluster is especially important to Delaware. Delaware’s share of employment in high paying sectors has declined over the past decade, and has been replaced by lower paying service sector jobs. Jobs in the health sciences cluster, from nursing positions to medical device manufacturers, are higher paying than service sector jobs and create spin-off jobs at a high rate.
  • State of Wyoming:  Economic Diagnosis and Industry Cluster Analysis (2008)
    Workforce demands for the information and electronic technology cluster are significant and it is unclear if the current workforce development and education system in Wyoming are adequately producing qualified workers for the cluster to thrive.
  • The North Dakota Wind Energy Cluster: An Economic Analysis (2008)
    North Dakota is beginning to show the start of a strong, developing wind energy cluster. Though wind energy is a relatively nebulous idea when applied against the quantitative data of employment statistics, there are many alternative signs that demonstrate how it is becoming a larger player in the state’s economy.
  • Print Industry in St. Cloud, Minnesota (2006)
  • Pork Production in South Central Minnesota (2006)
  • Northeast Minnesota Industry Cluster Study (2001)
    This study was conducted in partnership with University of Minnesota Duluth's Bureau Business and Economic Research and uses Porter's framework to describe the growth of four key industry clusters in the region: forest products; tourism; health services; and information technology.
  • Industry Clusters: An Economic Development Strategy for Minnesota (1999)
    This report provides a clear view of the industry cluster approach. Industry Clusters are defined and examples are provided. The report articulates the benefits of a cluster approach, both as a means of understanding industries and as a vehicle for initiating and facilitating a powerful statewide economic development policy that takes into account the full potential of the state's regions.
  • Southwest Minnesota Industry Cluster Study (1998)
    Similarly, this study seeks to understand the key industries in the southwest region of Minnesota that serve as the backbone for regional economic development.
  • Northwest Minnesota Industry Cluster Study (1998)
    The Northwest Minnesota Industry Cluster Study seeks to understand the key industries in the area that serve as the backbone for regional economic development. The State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs is providing the leadership for investigating two questions: 1. What characteristics have contributed to the development of key industries in the region? 2. What can be done to further support and sustain these key industries?
  • Southeastern and South Central Minnesota Industry Cluster Study (1996)
    The Initiative Fund of Southeast and South Central Minnesota commissioned a regional study to identify the key industry clusters in these areas. Using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, the study describes the clusters and makes appropriate policy recommendations.
  • Twin Cities Industrial Cluster Study (1995)
    Using Michael Porter's framework, this study focuses on the Twin Cities metropolitan region, identifying four key industry clusters and makes policy recommendations. The four clusters are: printing and publishing; computers and software; medical devices; and machinery.
  • The Financial Services Cluster of the Twin Cities (1995)
    The Metropolitan Council commissioned this study of the metropolitan region's financial services cluster. The study uses Michael Porter's "competitive advantage" framework to identify important characteristics of the cluster and makes policy recommendations accordingly.

Cluster Strategies

  • Arizona
    Arizona Department of Commerce
  • Connecticut
    The Connecticut Department of Community and Economic Development has a detailed site explaining its approach to its cluster strategy with links to associated cluster institutions.
  • New York
    Empire State Development, the economic development arm of state government, has identified twelve industry clusters in the state to help guide development strategies. The site has lots of details on each cluster: profiles, related resources, and geographic locations.
  • Oregon
    The Oregon Business Development Department developed cluster groups with firms and associations in key productive industries between 1990 and 1996. The site connects to the associations and groups which are carrying on the cluster work in their industries.