Economically, the community is surrounded by some of the richest agricultural lands in the country and agribusiness is a major contributor to the local economy. Headquartered in Morris, Riverview LLP is the largest dairy milking operation in Minnesota and ranked as one of the largest in the United States. Other large economic contributors include manufacturing, education and healthcare industries.
The town is home to the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM), part of the University of Minnesota system. The first buildings on campus were constructed in 1887 for the Morris Industrial School for Indians to prepare them for jobs in the industrializing majority culture. It also taught agricultural topics to prepare students for the range of jobs in this rural area. The school closed in 1909 when the University of Minnesota established the West Central School of Agriculture (WCSA). After the state announced a phase-out plan for its agricultural schools, a grassroots citizens movement convinced the state to create a public college on the Morris campus. In the fall of 1960, the University of Minnesota, Morris opened its doors to students seeking a liberal arts education. Today, the campus has a population of approximately 1,900 and is ranked as a "Top 10 Public Liberal Arts College" by U.S. News and World Report and one of "America's Top Colleges" by Forbes.
Riverview and UMM are two of the community's top employers, but manufacturer Superior Industries is the largest job creator. Headquartered in Morris, the 40-year-old company employs about 800 people at its two manufacturing plants in town. A majority of Superior's workforce is skilled in engineering or fabrication. The company manufactures steel conveyors and storage tanks for industries handling dry bulk, fuels and gases. Inc. magazine ranks Superior Industries as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States.
On July 9, 1975, Morris was the site of the largest earthquake of the last century in the state, rated at 4.6 in magnitude. Eighteen years later, on June 4, 1993, another quake slightly shook the community. This one measured 4.1 in magnitude and ranks as the third-largest earthquake in Minnesota of the 1900s.