ST. PAUL (March 24, 2013) — Leaders from the water technology industry and other officials met in Eagan today for the state’s first Minnesota Water Technology Business Summit.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) hosted the event, which explored how Minnesota can address global water issues and showcase the state’s business strength in this sector. The summit was held at Ecolab’s Allan L. Schuman Campus in Eagan.
“The water technology sector is a major industry in Minnesota, employing more than 15,500 people,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “With its strong lineup of companies and water technology know-how, Minnesota has an opportunity to play a major role in an industry with a high growth potential.”
Ecolab Chairman and CEO Doug Baker, whose St. Paul-based company’s annual sales in water technology are about $9 billion, delivered the keynote address. Executives from Pentair, 3M and Aeration Industries also spoke at the event.
“Water scarcity poses serious risks for business and communities around the world, requiring innovative, scalable solutions to reduce global dependence on fresh water,” Baker said. “As a region, we have a competitive advantage in the water sector and the ability to lead innovation in this space to help solve complex water challenges.”
Minnesota is well positioned to capture much of the water technology market, with companies such as Ecolab, 3M, GE, Pentair and Aeration having major operations or headquarters here. The state ranks among the top 10 exporters of water and water technology in the United States, with more than $729 million in foreign sales in 2012.
“Our region is positioned to lead the world in water technology solutions,” added Michael Langley, CEO of GREATER MSP. “We are pleased that GREATER MSP is working closely with DEED to present the Minnesota Water Technology Business Summit showcasing our business strength in this sector.”
Four of the world’s top seven companies for membrane technology – a system for treating water – are in Minnesota, while Ecolab, GE and Pentair were identified by City Research & Analysis as the top water reuse companies in the world. Minnesota ranks fifth nationally for employment in manufacturing water pumping equipment.
The Twin Cities has the largest concentration of hydrologists in the country and a strong mix of engineers, water and waste treatment operators, natural sciences managers, biochemists and biophysicists, and conservation scientists.
Water technology is a growing industry in the United States, with water and wastewater treatment expected to become a $22 billion sector by 2016. The United Nations estimates that $22 trillion in water infrastructure investments will be needed worldwide by 2030 in such areas as treatment and reuse, filtration, desalination, pumping and aeration.
DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at http://mn.gov/deed/. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/mndeed.