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Cottage Grove ranks 7th in jobs survey

A recent survey put Cottage Grove among 10 Minnesota cities touted as the best communities for job seekers.

Published in November 2013 by NerdWallet, an online forum specializing in finance and investment tips, the survey puts Cottage Grove at No. 7, emphasizing its Business Enterprise Center and a high median household income as factors key for job growth.

“It’s nice to be on a list that puts a positive tone on our city,” Cottage Grove City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said.

Throughout the last couple of years, the housing market has drastically picked up, which Schroeder said makes Cottage Grove stand out, adding it will only continue to develop the city’s job market.

“Through the recession, almost every month in our Economic Development Authority meetings there is a chart that shows that the housing market continues to grow,” he said. “And for the last few years, our unemployment rate remains low.”

The survey reported an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent in Cottage Grove with top employers being 3M-Cottage Grove, Renewal by Andersen and Up North Plastics.

The growing housing market and the low unemployment rate, Schroeder said, gives Cottage Grove “a lot of staying power” and high fiscal capacity.

A 4.4 percent increase in working-age population continues to positively impact the city’s median household income, which the survey said is right around $82,400.

“This is higher than most people would expect,” Schroeder said. “Now this doesn’t talk about wealth, this is just income.”

While the survey looks favorably upon the city, Schroeder said it is not taken as the final word.

“When we go talk to rating agencies — Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s — we do talk about these kinds of things,” Schroeder said of the survey. “This resonates with them and signals to them our ability to pay back debt and shows the health of our households are much better than many other places.”

Schroeder added that 2013 was a “typical year” for infrastructure growth and 2014 is projected to be another favorable year, with high paybacks in commercial and residential developments coming in 2015.

Another Washington County city that made the list, and earned the top spot, was Woodbury. The survey highlighted its 10.1 percent increase in working-age population growth and high median household income of over $92,000 as positives.

Other Minnesota cities on the list were Moorhead, Shakopee, Rochester, Mankato, Lakeville, Richfield, Owatonna and Andover.