Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar stopped in Winona recently as part of her regular tour through Minnesota.

She heard plenty about the economy and health care - and that was just fine - but she wanted to make sure to deliver another message about the economy: There's a way to get out of this mess without the government.

Her message, while maybe not as attention grabbing as death panels and troubled asset relief funds, has the potential to help ease the crisis, and Minnesota is just the place to start.

She has been encouraging more businesses to think about exporting.

Yes, her idea is exporting. Not glamorous, but important.

The theory goes something like this: When the American economy was booming, businesses might not have had to worry about developing new markets for their products. But now, with consumer spending scaled back, businesses are struggling to find buyers. Meanwhile, foreign markets - namely India and China - are booming. And more than nine out of every 10 consumers worldwide don't live in the United States. That means a lot of customers for our products.

We think her initiatives make a lot sense. In fact, few people know about the U.S. Commercial Service, which has a branch in most embassies around the world. This bureau of the government helps businesses looking to expand into international markets vet potential importers and clear some of the hurdles to opening new markets. It's also a service, Klobuchar has discovered, that's vastly underused.

Klobuchar sees golden opportunities for a state like Minnesota, which has such a diverse manufacturing base. The weak U.S. dollar also helps give our products more allure.

Klobuchar gave several examples of businesses that have had to add employees just to keep up with global demand and not necessarily domestic orders. An example she gave was a company in northern Minnesota that makes a truck that can be converted into a tank. That's excellent for some countries where the terrain is treacherous and swampy.

Closer to home, Klobuchar toured Wenonah Canoe and learned about the world-class canoes being manufactured here.

Winona businesses are no stranger to overseas markets. Take, for example, RTP - the list of worldwide locations is stamped on every semi. Watkins is in China.

Winona is not unlike the rest of the state - we still have wonderful diversity in our manufacturing sector.

We support Klobuchar's initiatives to help spread the message of international business and trade. It not only could be an answer to local job growth, but it also could help ease the trade deficit, strengthen the dollar and, most important, give a boost to local economies without relying on the welfare of the federal government.

Stepping up

The Winona Daily News editorial board has reminded readers about the federally mandated radium treatment plant in Goodview. The plant, which

had a congressional appropriation to help offset the cost of building it, was never funded, leaving Goodview paying the entire bill.

Then Sen. Norm Coleman and current Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Tim Walz all took credit for helping Goodview get funding when it was authorized. Yet when it was discovered the money wouldn't be "appropriated," none of them stepped up to take the credit for leaving Goodview to foot the bill.

We've noted in several editorials that stiffing Goodview was not only wrong, but it also seemed like congressional responsibility evaporated.

On a recent visit to the editorial board, Walz said he took responsibility for part of the funding debacle. On her visit to Winona, Klobuchar told the editorial board she also was taking responsibility and working on finding other funding solutions, although she admitted funding is nearly impossible when construction projects are already completed.

Even though Sen. Al Franken had nothing to do with the radium plant, Goodview officials confirmed with the Daily News that his office - along with Walz and Klobuchar - are also working toward a new funding package.

This is great news for the residents of Goodview, who have had to endure water rate hikes just to pay for the broken.