Tech Advantages Abound in Washington County
Thursday, April 08, 2021
Minnesota’s Twin Cities region is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country for tech companies and employment. Washington County is a significant driver in that growth. Located just outside St. Paul, Washington County offers an excellent mix of available land, excellent utilities, skilled workforce, favorable financial environment and immediate domestic and international access that tech companies seek.
Minnesota has more than 11,300 businesses in the tech sector that represent over $30 billion and 9% of the state’s economy. Washington County is the third-fastest growing county in the state and uniquely positioned to facilitate continued growth of the state's tech sector. For example, the northern portion of Washington County is part of the Minnesota Technology Corridor, a public-private partnership between several local cities, counties, energy companies and other businesses designed to attract technology companies. But other cities within the county offer similar advantages, resulting in tech companies finding locations like Woodbury and Stillwater suitable to their needs as well.
From data centers and software companies to engineering firms and research and development, businesses across a broad range of industries will find many unique advantages in Washington County.
Perhaps the most unique asset is a significant amount of property located close to a metropolitan area. Washington County is one of the few areas in the country that can offer sites exceeding 250 acres with access to broadband and utilities in place within 30 minutes of the Twin Cities markets and the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport. For example, Cottage Grove has the potential for a business park expansion for an end user needing a property up to 240 acres. Smaller locations exist throughout the county as well, such as shovel-ready sites in Cottage Grove totaling approximately 68 acres at the Cottage Grove Business Park and the Southeast Industrial Park or a shovel-ready, 123-acre greenfield Headwaters Technology Park in Forest Lake and three sites in Hugo totaling 75 acres.
Abundant & Reliable Utilities
Washington County offers businesses access to reliable utilities not subject to the blackout frequencies experienced in other parts of the country at extremely affordable rates. Commercial electricity rates in Minnesota are 12.39% less than the national average. Power rates in Washington County from providers like Connexus and Xcel Energy are among the most competitive in the state, with large user discounts available and renewable energy options available. Additionally, the investments of multiple companies like Connexus Energy, Xcel Energy, Midco, Great River Energy, Comcast, CenturyLink, Arvig and Zayo Fiber has resulted in an abundance of high energy capacity fiber that provides fast data processing.
Favorable Tax Environment
Another significant advantage Minnesota offers tech companies is a favorable tax environment. One example is the Data Center Sales Tax Incentive, for companies that build a 25,000 square foot plus data center and invest $30 million or more within 48 months. The sales tax exemptions can last for up to 20 years on various equipment. In addition, companies locating to Washington County are not subject to personal property tax, inventory tax, utility tax, internet tax, information services tax or custom-created software tax.
Minnesota has a corporate income tax rate of 9.8%, general sales tax rate is 6.875% and a single sales apportionment, which makes it a top location for headquarters and plants.
The Angel Tax Credit provides a 25-percent tax credit for small, emerging businesses engaged in technological innovation in Minnesota. Businesses must be headquartered in Minnesota with fewer than 25 employees.
The availability of a skilled labor force is critical to a tech company’s success and Minnesota is known nationally for the tech talent graduating from several well-respected universities and colleges. In 2018, Forrester Research named the Twin Cities a Top Talent Market. Information Technology employment grew by more than 5,200 new jobs in Minnesota in 2019, according to CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2020™. From 2010 through 2019, tech employment in the area grew by 19.8% to represent 8.2% of Minnesota’s overall workforce.
An overlooked benefit is the fact the cost of hiring that excellent talent is lower in Minnesota compared to other parts of the country. With a lower cost of living, employees living in Washington County do not require as much compensation to enjoy a high quality of life. In Washington County, MN the median housing cost is $300,000, compared to a median price for a similar home in San Francisco costing nearly $1.4 million.
In 2019, CompTia ranked Minnesota as the fifth-best state in the country for the net number of technology businesses created. With an economic impact of more than $31 billion, tech businesses are responsible for about 9.3 percent of Minnesota’s total economy.
This positive business creation has resulted in a number of tech companies in Washington County, such as Vero Software and Sage Computer Solutions in Forest Lake, Sataware in Woodbury and Ramtech Software Solutions in Stillwater. And the possibilities for businesses of all sizes are endless, exhibited by the fact Google is investigating a $600 million data center on 300 acres in Minnesota.
Tech companies like these have discovered the advantages of locating in Washington County. Contact us to learn how your company can find similar success today!