Businesses are the backbone

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2002

Encouraging local businesses owners to keep being an active voice in their communities, former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson said that Minnesota's economy truly depends on such enterprises.

"You are the ones who ultimately grow jobs," Carlson said. "There would be no Minnesota without you. The greatest gift that we can give to everyone is the gift of employment."

Carlson made his remarks Wednesday in front of 100 luncheon participants at the Holiday Inn in Austin. The event was organized by the Government Affairs committee of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Carlson recalled growing up during the Depression and remembered when his father, a Swedish immigrant, came home one day without a job.

But with the advent of World War II, Carlson's New York City parents found employment in an unlikely place -- a four-hour roundtrip train ride to Bridgeport, Conn.

With that employment came the hours -- and the money.

"The greatest blessing ever invented? Overtime," Carlson said. "They adored it. That was the gift when you had a growing economy."

But local employers, not matter what the size, are what keeps a community moving, regardless of what time period.

"Never underestimate who you are," he said. "You are the ones who roll up your sleeves and the ones who help create jobs."

But although the Carlson is out of the political spotlight, he wasn't afraid Wednesday to shy away from giving his thoughts on the Tuesday memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone.

"People came there to genuinely express their sympathy and to do him honor," Carlson said. "I think it was an embarrassment for everyone that was there. That did not sound like a memorial service.

"It tends to blur out the emotional speeches that we're given. I think it offended Republicans and a great many more who were there (Tuesday) night."

Carlson added a parting shot toward current Gov. Jesse Ventura, alluding that anyone of the three gubernatorial candidates will make a better governor.

"No matter how the elections turn out, you will be well served," he said. "They will restore to Minnesota … the dignity of public service. In that sense, we all win."

Dan Fields can be reached at 434-2230 or by e-mail at