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Tom Dennis

Editor's note: Stories affirm region’s high quality of life

Is it possible to buy stock in a region? If it is, then sign me up for shares of the Midwest, because I’m convinced the region’s prospects are good.

Here’s a line from a Prairie Business story this month that helps explain why:

“(T)he greatest number of ESOPs – about 32 percent of the nation’s total – are found in the Midwest.”

ESOPs, as Lance Nixon’s story explains, are Employee Stock Ownership Plans, a way for benevolent owners to transfer ownership of their company to employees. The word “benevolent” is key, because while setting up an ESOP does confer tax advantages, it’s both costly and daunting, leading CNN Money to conclude, “Most owners willing to go to the trouble of implementing such a plan have the interests of their employees and the business in mind.”

Midwesterners should be proud that their region is home to the highest concentration of such owners. And in my view, that stat is a selling point. Ambitious but family-minded workers already are drawn to the Midwest, in part because they know they’re likely to find not only good jobs but also work/life balance.

Expect that migration to continue as the 21st Century rolls on.

Want more proof? Look at the benefits on display in Corporate Communities, our special section this month. Here a partial lineup from Lemonly in Sioux Falls, S.D.:

Work anywhere, flexible scheduling, summer hours, five-year adventure bonus, annual continuing education allowance, 100 percent coverage of hardware/software, holiday gifts. All that and profit sharing, too.

It’s great to live in a place where even the employers practice Midwestern Nice.

Tom Dennis

Editor, Prairie Business


I welcome your feedback and story ideas. Call me at 701-780-1276 or email me at