The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is exactly right on several key issues facing state businesses in the next few years. A Chamber representative, Jennifer Byers, was in Fairmont this week to help citizens understand that the health of their communities is tied to the state's business climate, which could use some improvements.
One fundamental problem is a perception by some, at least sometimes, that businesses are somehow "bad." Critics worry about the profit motive, but never describe any alternative to getting products and services to people. (There is no other effective method.) We agree with Byers, who contends that 99 percent of businesses want to do the right thing. "Businesses" are just people working together toward common commercial goals. So people who want to portray businesses as "bad guys," as Gov. Mark Dayton and others on the left occasionally do for political gain, need to start being more realistic. Doing so will help spur legislation to create a better business climate in the state.
Among other things, the Chamber would like to see educational accountability, because it is the public education system that churns out most future workers. In that light, the group wants performance-based evaluations for teachers.
On another topic, the Chamber wants faster permitting on environmental reviews. There was progress in this area this year. But the Chamber also would like to see more unnecessary mandates reduced or eliminated.
Finally, the Chamber is rightly concerned about the tax imbalance between those businesses that collect and remit sales tax to the state and online retailers that do not. The imbalance puts local businesses, like those in Fairmont, at a disadvantage. This and the other issues still must be addressed.