Hagen resigns, Aitkin County Growth seeks new director

Monday, February 12, 2018

After three years as executive director of Aitkin County Growth, Mike Hagen has decided it is time to shift his focus to his family. He resigned in December. Chairman Bill Ford will be filling in intermittently until a new director is found. Hagen first joined Aitkin Growth following his retirement as CEO of Riverwood Healthcare in June of 2013. He held his position at Riverwood for 13 years and wanted an opportunity to continue to be involved in the community. Hagen had worked with Dave Hasskamp, past Aitkin County Growth executive director, which made for an easy transition into the organization. The...
Junior Achievement: Preparing the future workforce

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Aitkin Action Alliance member Kurt Klicker of Neighborhood National Bank in Aitkin has a mission to bring the Junior Achievement (JA) of the Upper Midwest programs to Aitkin Schools.  JA empowers students to make a connection between what they learn in school and how it can be applied in the real world – enhancing the relevance of their classroom learning and increasing their understanding of the value of staying in school. Klicker currently volunteers with Junior Achievement in the Crosby-Ironton school district. He invited Amy Gray, District Manager for Junior Achievement in the Brainerd Lakes Area to give a presentation on the...
18 Best Places to Travel in 2018

Monday, February 05, 2018

There's a phrase we like to use at Traveler to describe certain destinations: "It's having a moment." It comes up a lot—that near-impossible-to-pin-down, can't-put-our-thumb-on-it logic as to why you should visit somewhere, now. We feel an urgent need to get to Antarctica; to visit the Azores before the crowds do; to discover a part of former Czechoslovakia the world has overlooked. Travel can be a meaningful way to be an ambassador. So do your part: These 18 editor-endorsed destinations are the best places to travel this year. 4/18 Minneapolis, Minnesota Ask anyone who lives in Minneapolis why they love it, and they'll quickly rattle...
Techstars launches Minnesota accelerator for agriculture and food startups

Friday, February 02, 2018

International startup accelerator Techstars announced today that it is launching a new ag tech accelerator in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Called the Farm-to-Fork Accelerator, the program will be managed by Brett Brohl, previously an entrepreneur in resident at Techstar’s Retail Accelerator, also based in Minnesota. Cargill and Ecolab, some of the largest players in the ag tech and food safety fields respectively, will partner with Techstars to run the program and offer mentorship to the selected companies. According to a blog post, applications for the program opened on January 8, with the 13-week program slated to begin in the third quarter of 2018. Techstars...
Minnesota is becoming the center of the Midwest’s retail tech universe

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Minnesota is home to a number of Fortune 500 retail companies like Target, Best Buy, and Supervalu. It also boasts a number of Fortune 500 companies that build out the entire retail ecosystem, including supply chain companies such as CH Robinson and CPG manufacturers such as General Mills and 3M. These companies are all within a 30-minute radius of each other, which has created a very exciting opportunity for startups looking to innovate in the retail environment. Techstars, for example, chose to locate its now two-year-old retail accelerator in Minnesota for this very reason. And they have found that at least in some...
How Minnesota Uses Its Resources to Drive and Thrive Entrepreneurship

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A network of resources, wealth of talent, access to capital fuel entrepreneurial growth Minnesota offers a full menu of resources that drive entrepreneurship — from access to a wide network of investors and venture capitalists as well as public and private research & development accelerators to university-based entrepreneurial programs and business incubators. Add to that the state’s deep pool of talent and Minnesota has easily a top choice for entrepreneurs. “Minnesota is a culture where people try things that are innovative,” says Shawn Patterson, CEO of Good Libations, a startup that develops natural organic food additives to enhance the taste of various consumable libations....
Innovation

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Minnesota is a great place for innovation Minnesota is a great place for innovation – it’s embedded in our identity. Earlier this year, Minneapolis was named as one of the best startup cities in the Midwest. Minnesota annually ranks among the top five states in new patents per capita and is home to leading technology businesses. DEED’s #InnovateMN campaign highlights contributions of Minnesota’s innovation economy and connects next gen entrepreneurs to available resources. DEED programs and services – Small Business Assistance, Angel Loan Fund, Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program, and Research and Development Tax Credit are some programs that can help innovators and entrepreneurs achieve their business goals. Find out more.  Higher education...
DEED Awards $4.3 Million for Transportation Infrastructure

Monday, January 29, 2018

Projects in Pennington County, Duluth, Brooklyn Park and Chaska approved for funding ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded grants totaling nearly $4.3 million for four transportation infrastructure projects that will encourage economic growth.  The funding was awarded through DEED’s Transportation Economic Development Infrastructure (TEDI) Program for projects in Pennington County, Duluth, Chaska and Brooklyn Park. The program provides funding for infrastructure projects that expand economic development opportunities, create jobs and improve transportation systems.  “TEDI recognizes that there is a relationship between highway and street improvements and economic growth,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “Local businesses will expand...
Great River Energy certifies new round of data center megasites

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Data centers have become integral to everyday life. They provide the security and bandwidth needed to store and process information, making tasks such as email, streaming video and transferring money possible. The demand for data centers will continue, as companies such as telecommunication providers, banking and healthcare institutions depend on fast, secure and reliable data transmission and storage. The Midwest is home to about 22 percent of the nation’s data centers, and Minnesota is emerging as a leading location for such facilities. The state has a number of attributes that lend itself to hosting data centers, such as a low incidence of...
Shamrock Township Broadband Expansion

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

There are 374 households near Big Sandy Lake in Aitkin County that will benefit from a recently awarded grant which will increase broadband access in the underserved area. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced on Nov. 21 that $26 million in grants were awarded to bring broadband access to unserved and underserved parts of the state. An unserved area is where households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds that meet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) threshold of 25 megabits per second (mbps) download and 3 mbps upload. An underserved area is where households or businesses do...
Amid worker shortage, DEED prioritizes investment in employment training programs

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has set aside more than $160 million to fund job training and placement programs in the 2018 fiscal year — an amount exceeding 30 percent of the agency’s $485.4 million budget. That's on top of the more than $205 million the agency spent on training and employment initiatives, which the agency either runs or funds, in its 2017 fiscal year. By comparison, DEED spent about $116 million each year on similar activities in 2015 and 2016.  The reason for the increase is no mystery: businesses across Minnesota have increasingly been in dire need of skilled...
Lt. Governor Tina Smith, Department of Employment and Economic Development Announce $26 Million for 39 Broadband Projects Across Greater Minnesota

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

New round of grants will expand high-speed internet access to 9,973 households, 2,169 businesses, and 60 community institutions in Greater Minnesota New state grant funding will leverage an additional $34 million in private and local funding State grant program has invested a total of $85 million, provided 33,852 households, 5,189 businesses, and 300 community institutions broadband access since 2014 Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced the 2017 Border-to-Border Broadband Grant recipients. The grants total $26 million for 39 broadband infrastructure projects that will provide 9,973 households, 2,169 businesses, and 60 community institutions across Minnesota access...
How This Midwestern City is Leading America in Retail Tech

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Last year, the top three executives at workforce management startup Branch Messenger decamped from Pasadena, California–based Idealab, the United States’ oldest surviving technology incubator, midway through their stint there. Their destination: Minneapolis. Of 150-plus Idealab startups birthed over two-plus decades, 45 have achieved successful exits. In Pasadena, Branch’s founders had seasoned mentors who built careers guiding founders from early stage to initial public offering or acquisition. And the West Coast’s top venture funds were either across town or a short flight up the coast, in Silicon Valley. Why trade that cushy, sunny perch for a frosty flyover city? A legacy retailer, of all things, prompted...
NUMC is 2017 Business of the Year

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce has named New Ulm Medical Center the 2017 Business of the Year. A banquet to celebrate this distinction was held on November 14th at the New Ulm Event Center. Healthcare in New Ulm can trace its long, rich heritage back to 1883 when Father Alexander Berghold founded the St. Alexander Hospital. After many changes over the next 100+ year, in 1996 Sioux Valley Hospital and New Ulm Medical Clinic merged to become New Ulm Medical Center. Today, the medical center includes a multi-specialty clinic located at the north end of the building, as well as a...
The Millennial Worker

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Minnesota’s labor force is undergoing a major shift. With baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) retiring from the workforce, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1999) are replacing them.  In fact, millennials are now the largest generation in the state workforce, accounting for 36 percent of all jobs in Minnesota. Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1980) account for 33 percent of the workforce, while baby boomer workers comprise 30 percent of the workers.  Despite popularly held stereotypes, millennials are proving themselves to be dedicated employees in every industry.  Some industries attract more millennials than others, however. Industries with the...
Quad Graphics sponsors job fair for displaced workers

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Waseca Chamber of Commerce and Quad Graphics are sponsoring a job fair to help find new positions for workers displaced by Quad Graphic's impending closure. On Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. anyone seeking work can visit the job fair at the Star Fire Event Center in Waseca. So far 25 businesses are registered for tables at the job fair, said Chamber of Commerce President Kim Foels. There is room for as many as 35 businesses. "We're putting it together because of the future displaced worker," Foels said. She added that anyone, not just Quad Graphics workers, looking for...
Minnesota named 'Best-Run State in the Nation' in new study

Friday, December 15, 2017

Minnesota is the best-run state in the nation, according to a new study from USA Today that cites Minnesota’s strong fiscal management, low unemployment and poverty rates, above-average median household income, and the state’s nearly perfect credit rating. Since ranking tenth in 2012, Minnesota has consistently climbed in the rankings under the same study, including ranking second last year. “Our administration has worked hard to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota – and we are not done yet,” Gov. Dayton said. “Next session, I will urge the Legislature to work with me to protect the long-term fiscal stability of our...
Job Expansion in Minnesota: Eight Years Strong

Thursday, December 14, 2017

In September, the Minnesota unemployment rate fell 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted 3.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.2 percent.  The state gained 6,400 jobs in September. Over the past year, Minnesota gained 41,259 jobs, an increase of 1.4 percent. U.S. job growth, same time period, was 1.2 percent. Read more. Professional and business sectors gained 3,600 jobs, leading all other sectors. All gains were in administrative and support, and waste management and remediation services (up 5,000). Management of companies and enterprises lost 200 jobs. Education and health services were up 2,000 new jobs and government was up 1,700. Small job...
SCC boosting opportunity to earn credit for work experience

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

When Jennifer Epper decided to go back to college part time while also working in restaurant marketing, she expected it would take her three years to earn an associate's degree. Thanks to credits for prior experience, the St. Peter mother of three will receive her marketing management degree from South Central College next month — one year earlier than she planned. South Central College leaders are now striving to help more nontraditional students earn credits for prior work and life experience. “We're streamlining the process. We've made it really a lot simpler,” said Marsha Danielson, SCC vice president of economic development. They're called “credit...
State Exports Climb 11 Percent in Third Quarter

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sales of $5.4 billion are highest in nearly three years Minnesota exports of manufactured, agricultural and mining products reached $5.4 billion in the third quarter, their highest level since late 2014, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).  State exports were up 11 percent from the same period a year ago. U.S. exports were up 5 percent during the quarter.  Exports of Minnesota products climbed in nearly every major global region, growing 11 percent in North America, 10 percent in Europe and 8 percent in Asia. Central and South America and the Middle East each...
Precision Ag Tech tools make farmer better steward of land

Monday, December 11, 2017

Kevin Poppel’s most trusted tool is his iPad. That’s because precision agriculture is the basis for every decision he makes at Poppel Family Farms between Lake Crystal and Madelia. “Today we don’t plant or fertilize or spray without some sort of precision-type recommendation,” Poppel said. Precision agriculture uses farm data and satellites to map out fields. Farmers can respond to soil and field variabilities in choosing seeds, planting and fertilizing rates. The goal is to be profitable and sustainable. County Line Ag, a 360 Yield Center dealer in Madelia, sends Poppel custom crop reports based on a GPS map of his fields throughout...
Local business starts production at Clair Nelson Center

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Friday afternoons at the Clair Nelson Center in Finland are normally pretty quiet and this was no different. In the meeting room near the front, a couple of people were working quietly on laptop computers and further into the building the soft sounds of rising alt-country star Justin Townes Earle drift out of the industrial kitchen. In the kitchen, Shane Dickey was making the vegan sausages he and his wife, Gail Francis, plan to be the basis of their wholesale prepared vegan foods business, Superior Small Batch. About two years ago, Dickey and Francis were heading back to the North Shore from visiting...
Aitkin Action Alliance hones in on priorities

Monday, December 04, 2017

What does Aitkin Action Alliance membership entail? That was just one topic of discussion at the Aitkin Chamber Economic Development Committee (ACEDC) meeting on Oct. 11. Chairman Mike Hagen would like to make sure there is a cohesive direction of the group moving forward. The committee will be formalizing material for new members to clarify the expectations of the partnered program between ACEDC and Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX). Group updates The Aitkin Action Alliance has identified priorities and members have broken into groups to achieve goals. The priorities are brand/marketing, business retention and expansion (BRE), beyond the status quo and...
Investing in affordable housing to grow the local economy

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The availability of quality, affordable housing is an overlooked aspect of economic development. Stable housing is critical because it helps to build and retain a strong workforce. When people have access to affordable housing, it’s good for businesses because turnover and training expenses are reduced. It’s also good for the economy because residents have more disposable income to spend in the community. If they own homes, they’re contributing property taxes. Businesses in Cook County have reported their ability to grow is limited by a lack of workforce housing. That’s why the Cook County Economic Development Agency is working with One Roof Housing...
Aitkin Growth wants 40 acres Shovel-Ready

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

lndustrial development is something that is sorely lacking in Aitkin County, according to Mike Hagen of Aitkin Growth– a nonprofit economic development corporation which aims to improve quality of life through job creation, economic diversification and area development. Of the 247.5 acres of land Aitkin Growth owns in Aitkin and Spencer townships, about 40 acres is potentially suitable for future development. Since developing the land for residential use is out of Aitkin Growth’s budget, the organization has shifted its focus to industrial development. “Our vision and mission is to have growth in Aitkin County,” Hagen said. Economic Development and Forest lndustry Coordinator...
FABTECH® 2017 focuses on ‘Industrial Revolution’

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

With 1,700 exhibiting companies and 44,935 attendees from 120 countries, FABTECH® 2017 reaffirmed its position as North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event. The focus of this year’s show centered on the “Industrial Evolution” of advanced manufacturing processes, robotics, 3D/additive manufacturing, and more. This was the first year Great River Energy’s economic development team participated in FABTECH, attending as part of a delegation organized by the Arrowhead Manufacturers and Fabricators Association (AMFA) and the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (DIRRR). The focus of this group was on promoting Minnesota manufacturers to national OEMs interested in...
New renewable energy option offered for businesses

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An expansion to the Wellspring program is giving the largest businesses served by Great River Energy’s member cooperatives a new way to power their businesses with renewable energy. The Wellspring program has long offered residential members the opportunity to purchase wind energy in an amount up to their normal monthly consumption. Now, commercial and industrial (C&I) members are being given the same chance.  “Many large companies are looking for ways to offset their energy consumption with renewable resources so we designed an easy, affordable option that helps them achieve their sustainability goals and also reduce their carbon footprint,” said Jill Eide, key...
Consider a Career in Cybersecurity

Monday, November 27, 2017

The shortage of cybersecurity professionals to protect extensive networks in Minnesota and the US presents a risk to our economy and security. Growing the next generation of a skilled cybersecurity workforce — as well as training those already in the workforce — is a starting point to building stronger defenses.  There will be a shortage of 1.8 million information security workers by 2022, according to a Center for Cyber Safety and Education study. It is important to engage youth early on and graduate students prepared to fill the vast number of positions available in this growing field.  Information Security Analysts: What They Do  Information...
Cybersecurity for Businesses

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Cybersecurity and digital privacy is now an issue for every business This year marks the 14th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. Cybersecurity has remained in the news for much of 2017. From global hacks to concerns around connected cities, homes and devices, cybersecurity and digital privacy is now an issue for every business. Smaller businesses have become targets for cybercriminals because they have fewer defense resources than large enterprises — and criminals know this. If cybercriminals can breach a small business and steal credentials — like banking...
A big day for small businesses

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mary Hodson was bursting with excitement when two large boxes arrived at the  Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office. Hodson, Chamber president, posted a video on the chamber’s Facebook page in late October showing her staff opening the boxes of Small Business Saturday supplies they received free from American Express. “We are considered a community champion with American Express, so we received 200 bags and welcome mats, balloons, posters, pens and buttons that we’ll be sharing with chamber businesses that are open and selling that day,” Hodson said. After shoppers rush to large retailers the day of or day after Thanksgiving for...
State Adds 6,400 Jobs in September

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Unemployment rate drops to 3.7 percent Minnesota employers added 6,400 jobs in September, according to seasonally adjusted figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).  The state has gained 41,259 jobs over the past year, an increase of 1.4 percent. U.S. job growth in the past 12 months was 1.2 percent.  Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.1 percent in September to 3.7 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in September.  “Minnesota’s job expansion is now eight years strong, with the state adding more than 337,000 jobs since September 2009,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “During that...
Strengthening Minnesota’s Medical Alley

Monday, October 30, 2017

Minnesota has long been at the forefront of the medical device field. Breakthrough technologies such as the first pacemaker and in-ear hearing aid were developed here. Over the years, the state has cultivated a cluster of 700 medical device companies. Top-notch firms such as Medtronic, 3M Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group, Boston Scientific, and Smiths Medical call Minnesota home. The cluster generates billions of dollars in revenue and employs 30,000 people. Cutting-edge research and strategic partnerships have moved the industry forward. The state ranks No. 2 in the country for medical technology patents and has the No. 1 concentration of medical tech workers in...
Minnesota ranked 3rd on Top States for Business list

Friday, July 14, 2017

Minnesota is the third best state for business, according to CNBC’s annual “America’s Top States for Business” rankings. The North Star State got high marks for education and quality of life, ranking second overall in each. "The credit for our state's continued economic success belongs to the people of Minnesota. I thank the hardworking Minnesotans and business owners who have made Minnesota home to their families, innovative companies and a great quality of life," Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement. "By continuing to support excellent educations and a world-class workforce, we can create even better opportunities for Minnesota businesses and families." The rankings...
USDA seeks applications for grants to support the development of rural community facilities

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced that the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking applications for technical assistance and training grants in the Community Facilities program. “Too often, rural community organizations lack the technical expertise they need to access federal dollars,” Perdue said. “These technical assistance and training grants will help rural organizations overcome hurdles that prevent them from fully utilizing the Community Facilities Program. Increased access to federal funding will help build essential community facilities, and will allow rural areas to thrive.” The grants are being provided through the Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Grant Program. Congress authorized this new program...
Your local electric cooperative: A partner in economic development

Thursday, April 27, 2017

“From marketing sites and communities to project management and transaction assistance, utility economic development partners can be a resource along the entire value chain of site selection.”                                                            - Josh Bays, Site Selection Group, LLC                                                            “Powerful Economic Development Partners”              ...
DataBank Eagan venture recognized as business recruitment project of the year

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM) recognized Dakota Electric Association and the city of Eagan for their work in attracting national data center provider, DataBank, at the ‘Excellence in Economic Development Awards’ ceremony held on January 22 in Brooklyn Park. The DataBank project was selected as the ‘2015 Business Recruitment Project of the Year’ not only for the immediate benefits of the project in terms of capital investment and job creation, but also because of the long-term benefits to business development and the state and regional economy. DataBank, a national provider of data center, managed services and cloud solutions, broke ground...
NU-Telecom: 2 grants will help expand broadband

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Two grants NU-Telecom received from the state help speed along expansions to rural broadband. The company received funding for two out of five projects it applied for through the Border-to-Border Broadband Grant program from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). “I think it is crucial, especially on a more timely basis,” CEO and President Bill Otis said. “In some cases it would be hard to justify the build without the grants so you end up a little bit with the haves and the have-nots. I would not say that these customers would never get it, but it would be farther down the...