The Fortune 500 sweepstakes
Local and regional leaders are hoping to convince a soon-to-be Fortune 500 company to put its headquarters in the Twin Cities.
Driving the news: Maplewood-based 3M Co. announced in late July it would spin off its $8.6 billion health care business. After the move, the spinoff would rank as roughly the 400th largest publicly traded company in the U.S. and have thousands of employees.
The intrigue: 3M has not said anything about where that yet-to-be-named company will be based. But there's already a movement afoot in St. Paul to lure the spinoff to downtown.
Why it matters: A Fortune 500 headquarters in downtown St. Paul would breathe new life into the city and solve a decades-long effort to attract a larger daytime population.
- Whether it's St. Paul or elsewhere in the region, keeping this company in the Twin Cities is important to the regional economy.
- "It is absolutely incumbent upon us to do our best work to help this spinoff grow here," said St. Paul Area Chamber CEO B Kyle.
What's happening: Downtown's largest landlord, Jim Crockarell, already had renderings drawn up for a 40-story tower in the middle of the city, with a pipe dream of attracting some big company. That was before the 3M news.
- "This is real now," Crockarell said. "Before it was just our fantasy."
The subsidy question: 3M already has a presence in Texas, a state with no corporate income taxes and a history of generous corporate subsidies.
- "Other cities are certainly going to offer them incentives for a $9 billion spin off company," Crockarell said. "St. Paul, just to be competitive, has got to offer as many incentives as they can come up with. Bloomington would offer incentives. Edina would offer incentives. Austin, Texas would offer incentives."
Joe Spencer, president of the St. Paul Downtown Alliance, said 3M would be such a major addition to downtown that "everything should be on the table."
City Council Member Rebecca Noecker, who represents downtown, said the city has existing incentive programs for companies that create jobs in addition to built-in advantages of being downtown.
- “I think there's incentives that we can offer that aren't just financial," she said.
- A spokesperson for Mayor Melvin Carter's office said Carter "looks forward to connecting with 3M to learn more about their plans."
Of note: 3M did not respond to a request for comment.
State of play: There's not enough vacant high class office space available in St. Paul to house hundreds or thousands of workers for a 3M spinoff.
- So a developer would have to build. Three logical sites: The Central Station at Minnesota and Fifth streets; the county-owned RiversEdge site between the bluff and Mississippi River; and the parking lot across the street from Treasure Island Center.
The case for St. Paul: 3M is already an east metro company, so a move to St. Paul wouldn't drastically disrupt commutes. Plus, the company has previously been interested in expanding into downtown.
The case against: Many employees are used to free parking in Maplewood. 3M could easily slice off a chunk of its Maplewood campus and lease it back to the new health care business.
- And there will no doubt be other suitors. Bloomington has a $400 million pot of money it can use for economic development near the Mall of America.
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