Natural Born Economy

Two researchers measure water levels

Ask Minnesotans what sets the state apart, and there's a good chance they'll mention natural resources. Indeed, Minnesota is famous for its parks, prairies, lakes, and loons.

Minnesota's economy is intertwined with nature, too. With 17.3 million acres of forest, 67 state parks, and some 12,000 lakes—not to mention oodles of iron ore—it makes economic sense for local businesses to care about the environment.

That delicate balance between economics and the environment is the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute's (NRRI) sweet spot. NRRI helps companies become more sustainable and more profitable. In 2014 alone, NRRI worked with more than 80 regional clients—from small and midsize businesses to government and nonprofits.

"There are some institutes associated with research universities that have a mission of helping businesses, and some that do environmental research," says NRRI spokesperson June Kallestad. "NRRI is one of the only institutes that brings the two concepts together."

All told, NRRI is home to 127 experts in areas ranging from renewable energy and forest products to wildlife, invasive species, and climate change. As a result, NRRI has played a central role in countless success stories.

Learn more about some of the companies NRRI has helped
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities