ST. PAUL (AP) -- Business leaders, educators, lawmakers and communities need to work together with state officials to ensure that Minnesota's economy does not fall behind, Gov. Jesse Ventura said Wednesday.
Addressing the Summit on Minnesota's Economy, a bipartisan forum focusing on Minnesota's long-term economic objectives, Ventura urged participants to get behind "The Big Plan" he rolled out last October to make state government more responsive to people's needs.
That plan includes tax reform, development of a light-rail system, education reform, diversification of the rural economy, telecommunications reform and work force development.
While agriculture is still the mainstay of the rural economy, "it's not the force that it once was," Ventura said. "Mainstreet Minnesota is about a diverse rural economy."
Calling it a "tough reality," the governor said Minnesota needs to stop throwing money at just one sector and start looking at communities as a whole -- including business development, work force development and development of telecommunications and transportation systems in addition to agriculture.
The state also needs a simple, fair tax system aligned with the global marketplace, Ventura said. The goal, he said, should be to make individuals and businesses more competitive in the global economy.
"A new economy requires a new mindset," the governor said. "Expanding markets mean expanding sales, expanding jobs and higher wages."
The University of Minnesota has a key role in keeping the state economically vital, Ventura said.
"In today's economy, I believe that role has changed into a technology role," he said. "We need a university culture that fosters entrepreneurship."
In turn, the state and the business community need to work with the university to aid commercial development of ideas coming out of the university, Ventura said.
"A healthy University of Minnesota contributes to a healthy Minnesota economy," he said. "If we work together, I do not believe we will fall behind."
Gerald Carlson, state commissioner of trade and economic development, noted that Minnesota has the highest percentage of workers per capita in the nation, but said the state needs to better prepare its existing workers and attract new workers.
"We need to get better at keeping capital here. We can get better in how we focus research," Carlson said. "We need to encourage more entrepreneurial thinking and action in all walks of our life."
More than 1,200 people attended the daylong summit, which was sponsored by the university.
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