Spring 2012

The Newsletter of the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium

Table of Contents 

MN GIS/LIS Consortium

From the Chair

DNR Garmin Evolves to DNRGPS
MnDOT Tracks Invasive Bittersweet
2010 Population Maps
More Economic Data 
Water Trails Maps

Twin Cities GECCo Report

Higher Education
Nat'l Historical GIS Updates 
Dangermond Lecture 
Trade Centers 
GIS Day at UM-Duluth

URISA Salary & Tech Survey




Greater Minnesota’s Trade-Center Hierarchy
By Will Craig and Bruce Schwartau, University of Minnesota

Cities across Greater Minnesota provide the jobs, education, goods and services, homes, meeting places, and identity for nearly half of the state’s population.  They are the hubs of activity, connected by roads to each other, to the Twin Cities, and to the national economy.  Trade Center size and vitality are important considerations in planning for highway maintenance and upgrades.  City vitality changes over time, so it needs to monitored regularly.

Past efforts to measure economic activity have been based on complicated analyses of business data from Dun and Bradstreet.  Authors of that methodology suggested using a simpler approach based on sales tax information.  Our research took that approach, using sales tax data from the Minnesota Department of Revenue.  We compared past approaches to determining Trade Center levels with the sales tax approach and found very similar results.

We then used current sales tax data to rank and classify cities today.  Change is occurring.  Mankato has moved up the urban hierarchy and is now a primary regional center on par with St. Cloud, Rochester, and Duluth; together these four cities account for 28% of taxable retail and service sales in Greater Minnesota.  Cities with populations under 5,000 and Iron Range cities tend to be losing ground.  Cities in lake regions of the state are growing as they take advantage of seasonal sales.

See the full article from the CURA Reporter Fall/Winter 2011 issue.

For more information, contact:

  • William J. Craig, Center for Urban & Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota,, 612-625-3321
  • Bruce W. Schwartau, University of Minnesota Extension, Extension Regional Center, Rochester,, 507-536-6308