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Southwest Minnesota’s distinguishing industries include food manufacturing, crop and animal production, chemical manufacturing (which includes ethanol and biodiesel production), truck transportation, hog and pig farming, animal slaughtering and processing, and agriculture production support activities. All of those are in the goods-producing domain – primarily in manufacturing and agriculture-related specialties. Southwest Minnesota also has a strong concentration of employment in government-owned hospitals and nursing care facilities, owing to the region’s aging population. The region also has a high percentage of the state’s merchant wholesalers in the areas of farm products and petroleum, both related to the region’s agricultural foundation.
The region still has many career opportunities represented by a list of Occupations in Demand, calculated by DEED through job vacancy survey data, unemployment insurance claims, and employment projections. Well over 150 occupations continue to show demand in the region, at least through the fourth quarter of 2008, with training and education requirements ranging from short-term on-the-job training to post-secondary education to advanced degrees. However, educational attainment lags in Southwest Minnesota, partly due to the region’s older population.