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AURI Quantifies its Economic Impact on the State of Minnesota

AURI’s mission is to foster long-term economic impact for Minnesota through value-added agricultural products. It measures its success by looking at the number of projects opened and completed in a given year, new products created, additional commodities utilized and the economic impact it had on the state.
To that end, AURI contracted with the University of Minnesota Extension (UME) to quantify its economic contributions to the state.

To accomplish this, a study was conducted titled “Economic Contribution of Projects Leveraged with AURI Assistance: Fiscal Years 2011-2017”, which analyzed economic activity generated by businesses receiving hands-on assistance from AURI.

Economic contributions produced by AURI were dynamic and widespread, with the impact explicit in five key metrics used to evaluate progress, including: annual sales, projected sales, capital investments, planned capital investments and created or retained jobs.

Businesses receiving AURI assistance directly created $76.9 million of economic activity each year between FY 2011 and 2017. These businesses created 605 jobs and paid an estimated $6.5 million in labor income.

Businesses plan to create and retain an additional 606 jobs in the next five years. Additionally, clients that received AURI assistance project the generation of a total estimated potential of $157.8 million in economic activity, including 966 jobs and $28.2 million in labor income.

To download a copy of the full report, visit


Three Primary Services

AURI offers three primary services to sow the seeds for success: Applied Research Services, Innovation Networks, and Hands-on Scientific Assistance. Each of these approaches are applied uniquely to meet needs of businesses and entrepreneurs hoping to improve their products and technology. In tandem, these methods fill knowledge gaps by identifying barriers and solutions to spur innovation in the state of Minnesota and beyond. As the report shows, this creates revenues, expenditures, and jobs that positively impact the economy.

Opportunities for adding value to Minnesota agriculture can be like finding a needle in a haystack. That’s why AURI conducts extensive research and exploration of relevant subjects and themes within selected focus areas. These Applied Research Services uncover a plethora of useful public information to help generate new ideas. Specifically, this work produces three types of outcomes: research reports, tools, and statewide initiative reports.

AURI provides these services across four focus areas: biobased products, renewable energy, coproducts, and food. The biobased and renewable energy focus areas work to replace traditional petroleum-based ingredients with agricultural products. Coproducts works to turn processing waste into marketable products. The food focus area provides small businesses and agricultural producers opportunities to create new products.

Jobs created and retained, along with new sales generated, are considered operational contributions. Businesses receiving AURI assistance benefitting the economy in this way saw impressive figures when totaling direct, indirect, and induced effects.

Businesses generated $141.8 million in economic activity each year

Looking ahead through the next five years, businesses receiving assistance predict operational contributions will continue producing benefits. AURI assistance is projected to produce significant positive results, including generating $157.8 million in economic activity, supporting a total of 966 jobs and $28.2 million in labor income.

Annual Operational Economic Contributions

AURI’s quantifies its economic impact on the state of Minnesota

1.Innovation Networks bring stakeholders together around shared areas of interest, allowing both formal and informal groups to assist one another and advance new ideas in the agricultural field. AURI project development teams work with clients to connect them with pivotal thought leaders and resources to bring a product to market or disseminate research to a target audience. Popular innovation networks include Industry Thought Leader meetings, Forums and Roundtable events.

935 jobs were supported

2. AURI also helps businesses achieve their goals by providing Hands-on Scientific Assistance to entrepreneurs and businesses. Perhaps the most expansive service offered by AURI, it helps bring ideas from development to commercialization through consulting and technical assistance every step of the way. Areas of assistance are categorized as follows: product and process development; product evaluation and testing; sourcing materials, equipment and services.

$26.3 million in labor income across the state

3.Economic Impact Report

Capital investments by AURI-assisted businesses will generate short-term economic contributions, dissipating once a capital investment project is complete. Similar to annual operational contributions, short-term capital investments produce impressive figures when totaling direct, indirect, and induced effects. Businesses generated a total $168.8 million in economic activity, supported a total of 1,010 jobs, and produced $68 million in labor income. These results are undoubtedly significant and they’re tracking to continue in the future.

Looking ahead through the next five years, between 2018 and 2023, businesses that received assistance predict capital investments will continue producing benefits. Totaling direct, indirect, and induced effects, AURI assistance is projected to produce significant positive results. Businesses will potentially generate a total $261.5 million in economic activity, likely support a total of 1,570 jobs, and could produce $105.2 million in labor income. Short-term capital investments have and continue to be effective, similar to operational contributions. Both types of economic contributions are important, especially given the context of AURI-leveraged projects to the economy.

Minnesota has been and remains a top agricultural state. Its economy depends heavily on the agricultural industry. Agriculture is one of the top three industries in either output production or job creation in the regions explored by the study. That’s why AURI’s work and its economic contributions are critical and significant to both businesses and the state’s economy at large. Combining both annual operational contributions and short-term economic contributions of capital investments, AURI-assisted projects contributed an estimated $310.6 million and 1,945 jobs to the economy through FY 2011-2017. AURI is poised to further its economic contributions moving forward.

AURI is committed to delivering positive economic impact to the agriculture industry and the state’s economy. We track the direct impact of AURI’s programs on the clients we serve, but that doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Senior Director of Strategy Management, Lisa Gjersvik. “We knew the impact to the state’s economy was greater than the direct impacts reported by clients and we were excited to obtain research that provided a more holistic view of AURI’s work and its far-ranging effects.

Short-Term Capital Investment Economic Contributions

AURI-Leveraged Projects in Context of the Economy

AURI continues to improve and develop new methods for driving economic impact through knowledge gathered from UME’s report. This insight positions AURI for many opportunities to advance new uses for agricultural products through science and technology. Objective and anecdotical information forecasts continued success for collaborative ventures moving forward. Particularly, AURI’s commercialization services program will be utilized to greater effect in the year ahead.

“This research clearly shows there are major benefits to assisting businesses facing technical constraints in utilizing our commodities and agricultural products. Results indicate that the commercialization services program needs to be continued and maintain its status as a key strategic offering of AURI,” said Executive Director, Shannon Schlecht. “This program spurs both short-term and long-term impacts with new capital investment having a major short-term impact on a direct and indirect basis to the economy. Additional commodity utilization and resulting new annual sales will also produce longer term impacts through generated economic activity.”

The agricultural landscape is always changing, requiring AURI to constantly adapt. The organization creates plans and strategies founded on evidence, routinely looking at shifts in the industry and new ways to advance ideas that utilize the crops grown here. UME’s valuation is a significant factor in ensuring progress, though AURI will continue seeking additional information to expand and improve its array of services. There’s much to be excited about as AURI is on course to deliver positive economic outcomes for its partners, and the state at large.

“AURI’s strategic plan is a living document. We routinely turn to our strategic imperatives to make sure we are working on what is important to our clients, and our partners,” said Planning & Government Relations Director Dan Skogen. “UME’s valuation provides resourceful knowledge that proves we’re on the right course. It shows from an organizational standpoint AURI does a good job of applying its founding statutes to its mission and strategic plan, engaging producers, entrepreneurs and small businesses to create new wealth in all corners of the state.”

Moving Agriculture Forward Into the Future