Minnesota delegation completes trade mission to Europe – Twin Cities


Minnesota government and business leaders this week launched a Northern European trade mission aimed at boosting state exports and attracting more investment to Minnesota.

More than 50 Minnesota representatives spent the week in London and Helsinki meeting with federal officials and business leaders and building new relationships around health and medical technology, environmental technology, agriculture and higher education.

Governor Tim Walz and heads of state agencies were among the first, if not the first, to resume face-to-face trade talks with the two countries after the COVID-19 pandemic forced numerous trade and trade summits in virtual contexts. And the face-to-face interactions had a profound impact locally, Walz said.

“Incredibly positive reception,” Walz told reporters on a conference call from Helsinki on Wednesday. “I think Minnesota’s reputation as an innovative, problem-solving state makes the difference.”

The Minnesota delegation visited the new Mayo Clinic Healthcare site in London, discussed policies that could slow climate change with energy officials and started conversations about new opportunities for UK investors to work with companies from Minnesota during their three-day stay in London. The United States and the United Kingdom have yet to formalize a post-Brexit trade deal, but state officials said they hoped they had laid a good foundation.

And they pledged to lobby the state congressional delegation and others in Washington to free trade between the two countries.

“This is a really good opportunity for us to help lay the groundwork for a good trade deal with the UK,” said Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen.

The UK was Minnesota’s eighth-largest exporter of goods in 2020, and 70 UK companies operate locations in Minnesota. Meanwhile, 60 Minnesota companies operate businesses in the UK. Finland isn’t as high on the state’s export list, but Minnesota exported $19 million to the country last year.

“Showing up here with 60 Minnesota businesses is a huge signal to the market that we’re open for business,” said Department of Jobs and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “We’re getting a lot of openness and excitement.”

The Minnesota delegation was scheduled to meet with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and companies with ties to Minnesota on Wednesday, before wrapping up the visit with additional networking discussions on Thursday. The group is scheduled to return to Minnesota on Friday.

At home, the state has tracked an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths that have reached the highest level in the country. Health department officials said they would open booster doses of vaccines to curb the latest surge later this week.


In addition to Walz, First Lady Gwen Walz and Commissioners Grove and Petersen, dozens of business, education and health leaders joined the trade mission. Here is a list of the members of the Minnesota delegation:

  • Shahzad Ahmad, Associate Vice President, Center for International Studies, St. Cloud State University
  • Joel Akason, Senior Vice President of Corporate Investment at GREATER MSP
  • Jan Bauer, British government consul
  • Bryan Biegler, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association
  • Aaron Budge, Minnesota State University at Dean of Mankato
  • John Cooney III, Director of Government Relations for SkyWater Technology Foundry Inc.
  • Kimberly Craig, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Concordia University
  • Jeff Davidman, vice president of government affairs for Delta Air Lines
  • G. Anton Decker, President of Mayo Clinic International
  • Steven Dickinson, Cozen O’Connor International Practice Co-Chair
  • Timothy Dufault, Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotional Council board member and wheat farmer
  • Beverly Durgan, Dean of Extension at the University of Minnesota
  • Mohamed Farah, president of Kaah Transportation
  • Kathryn Ferguson, Duluth Seaway Port Authority Director of Trade and Business Development
  • Bradley Ferguson, Director of Government Affairs, SkyWater Technology Foundry
  • Bodil Forsling, Mall of America Tourism Account Manager
  • Peter Frosch, President and CEO of GREATER MSP
  • Jeffrey Grev, Hormel Vice President of Legislative Affairs
  • Nicole Griensewic, Executive Director of the Region Nine Development Commission
  • August Hinnenkamp, ​​co-founder and CEO of CLO-CLO Vegan Foods
  • Wendy Hinnenkamp, ​​Founder of CLO-CLO Vegan Foods
  • Harlan Jacobs, Crotega LLC Director of International Business Development
  • Patrick Kelly, shareholder and director of Fredrikson & Byron PA
  • Jukka Kukkonen, Educator and Chief Electronic Vehicle Strategist at Shift2Electric
  • Elaine Kumpula, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Honorary Consul of Finland and Partner
  • Laura Lemke, executive director of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association
  • Amy Lindgren, President of Prototype Career Service
  • Steven Massey, Superintendent of Forest Lake Area Schools
  • Meredith McQuaid, associate vice president of the University of Minnesota and dean of international programs
  • Kenneth Morris, Founder and CEO of KnectIQ
  • Stephen Parente, Chair of Insurance Industry Health Financing at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota
  • Eric Pasi, Chief Development Officer of Impact Power Solutions LLC
  • Kim Pearson, CEO of New Boundaries Technologies Inc.
  • Virginia Rutter, Community Relations Manager Clean Energy Economy MN
  • Eric Samuelson, President of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association
  • Patrick Seeb, executive director of the destination medical center
  • Joseph Smentek, executive director of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council
  • Kenneth Smith, CEO of Ever-Green Energy
  • Jared Standish, MnDRIVE Advancing Industry, Conserving Our Environment Industry Liaison
  • Jasmine Stringer, Carpe Diem with the Founder and President of Jasmine LLC
  • Brian Thalmann, Minnesota Corn Growers Association Board Member
  • Greg Thomas, Director of Sales and Marketing at Innovation
  • Loren Unterseher, Board Member of SkyWater Technology Foundry Inc.
  • Robbyn Wacker, president of St. Cloud State University
  • Richard Weiner, Vice President and Chair of the International Law Practice Group at Fredrikson & Byron
  • Jonathan Weinhagen, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Donald Weinkauf, Dean of St. Thomas University Faculty of Engineering
  • Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union
  • Mark Wuollet, Vice President of Mark-Tech International LLC

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