Happiest states: MN ranks third, ND fourth

Friday, November 16, 2018

FARGO — Minnesota ranked third and North Dakota fourth in WalletHub's 2018 Happiest States in America report. To determine where Americans are happiest, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 31 indicators. The data set includes emotional health, job satisfaction, income growth and safety. The top 10 happiest states are Hawaii Utah Minnesota North Dakota California Idaho Maryland Iowa South Dakota Nebraska The five least happy states are West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska and Oklahoma. North Dakota ranked first for lowest long-term unemployment rate and highest income growth. Minnesota came in as third safest, had the third-highest volunteer rate and fifth-highest sports participation rate. Both were in the top five for lowest divorce rate.  Continue to...
Realty check: Broadband sells

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A common theme among realtors within the area is lost sales due to a lack of adequate broadband, Economic Development Coordinator Ross Wagner told Aitkin County commissioners during its meeting on Sept. 11. Wagner said, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was finding out that we are losing potential residents due to the lack of broadband in the area.”   The county was recently awarded an IRRRB matching grant, enabling it to award both SCI Broadband Inc and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative an Aitkin County Broadband Development Grant of $150,000 each. With this award, a total of 738 homes and two businesses...
Rochester, Twin Cities ranked among most innovative on earth

Monday, November 12, 2018

ROCHESTER, MN — Innovation isn't easy. Case in point, your kids have heard of Netflix and Facebook, but will give you a blank look if you talk about Blockbuster or MySpace, two companies routinely listed among the biggest to fail specifically because they didn't innovate. So when we say three Minnesota cities were just ranked among the most innovative on Earth, it's — with apologies to Ron Burgundy and the movie "Anchorman" — kind of a big deal. The Australian data research company 2thinknow, which crunches numbers from cities across the globe, released its 11th annual Innovation Cities Index rankings of the...
How are we doing? Minnesota near top of 'best economy' states

Friday, November 09, 2018

A ranking of state economies using metrics like poverty rate, home ownership, job growth and education puts Minnesota ahead of California (and, more important, Wisconsin).  USA Today reports on the listing, compiled by financial site 24/7 Wall Street. Minnesota comes in No. 7 overall, just behind Hawaii. The state scored points for its low unemployment rate (3.1 percent at the time of the survey), GDP annual growth rate of 1.7 percent (the 14th best in the list) and an especially high home ownership rate of 71.3 percent. The top-ranked states overall were Colorado, Utah and Massachusetts. Louisiana, Alaska and West Virginia came in last. Continue...
Innovation Voucher Award Program

Friday, November 09, 2018

Financial Awards Give Small Businesses Access to Technical Assistance The Innovation Voucher Award Program provides $5,000 to $25,000 awards to help small businesses purchase technical assistance and services necessary to advance research, development or commercialization of new or innovative products and services. Qualifying businesses receive awards – which the recipient must match on a 50 percent basis – to reimburse for expenses incurred for assistance and services rendered by public universities, colleges, technical schools and non-profits in Minnesota. Reimbursable expenses include purchased technical assistance and services in research, technical development, product development, commercialization, market development, technology exploration, and improved business practices, including strategies to...
Aitkin Action Alliance: Strategy for success

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Last year, the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee partnered with APEX to form the Aitkin Action Alliance. A strategic plan was formed, and a business outreach program began. Local areas of opportunity and strength were identified and built upon to drive investment in the region. During the committee’s meeting on Sept. 12, APEX Business Developer Tamara Lowney gave an update on the strategic plan. Target areas addressed by the strategic plan are: workforce, support existing businesses, brand and marketing plan, beyond the status quo, industrial park, training-entrepreneur, recreation-hospitality, attraction, housing and legislative. “The success of the plan is heavily...
HC Event Center opens in classic style

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Many area residents know of HC Photography in Milaca, but they may not know that as of this summer, owners Christine and Russ Hugg took a big leap of expansion and opened a one-of-a-kind event center on property near their rural-Milaca home, about 6 miles north of the city.  “I built it for weddings,” Christine said, but she will market it for other events, such as corporate events, anniversary parties and funerals. Continue to full article
Crystal Cabinets completes expansion, enters second phase of work

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Crystal Cabinet Works, Inc., of Princeton, a family owned manufacturer of premium and affordable custom cabinets, announces the completion of its building expansion that accommodates a large automation project.  The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for employees in June to commemorate finishing the 22,500-square-foot addition on the northeast corner of the plant, which sits on the south end of Rum River Drive. The project required more than 400 yards of cement. It began in August of 2016 at the annual International Woodworking Fair (IWF) show, which that year was held in Atlanta. The show features the latest technology in wood working, and...
Local brand is best in the land

Monday, November 05, 2018

Prairie Organic Spirits was recently named the No. 1 craft vodka distillery in the country in USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards for 2018. The award is a testament to the product line’s organic and sustainable practices, as well as the distilling process they employ. The brand is one of the many under the 106-year-old Phillips Distilling Co. label out of Princeton and was developed in 2007, with its first vodka product available to consumers in 2008. Continue to full article
Electric charging stations coming to Grand Marais

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Grand Marais is one step closer to joining Minnesota’s electric vehicle charging corridor, which runs from the Twin Cities to Thunder Bay. In late August, city council voted in favor of the PCU granting a license to allow Zeff to place two electric vehicle charging stations in the City Hall parking lot. The city’s license is good for seven years, with the understanding that if the building use changes, then the city will find an alternate location for the stations. Starting from the Twin Cities, heading north on Interstate 35W, there are currently 60 charging stations. According to plugshare.com, a few are...
Lutsen lodge under new ownership

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Lutsen Resort on the North Shore is off the market. The North Shore Resort Company, part of the family-owned Campbell Hospitality Group in Ontario, purchased the historic resort, which includes the lakeside lodge, townhomes and condos, on Aug. 15 after the property was put up for sale last year. "It's neat to be the next generation carrying on that legacy," said Bryce Campbell, who co-owns the company with his mother Sheila Campbell. "It'd be nice for people to come up the shore, even if it's a day trip, come and have dinner and see the changes we make throughout the future and...
More Minnesotans are working past 65

Monday, October 29, 2018

NUMBER PROJECTED TO INCREASE WITH FUTURE GENERATIONS DULUTH — Sixty-five came and went, and Marcia Gurno didn’t bat an eye. “As long as I feel like I’m still making a contribution, and as long as my mind is sharp and I’m still willing to learn and be open to new ideas, and my body holds out — that’s my order for how I look at retirement.” The St. Louis County social worker turns 67 in November and has no plans to stop punching the clock anytime soon. “People expect me to show up and perform, and it keeps me going.” She’s not alone — both...
MnDOT announces availability of competitive grants for community transportation projects

Friday, October 26, 2018

Minnesota communities, schools and their partners are invited to apply for funding on local projects that enhance transportation goals, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. For the 2018-19 application cycle, MnDOT is conducting a joint solicitation for the Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes to School State Infrastructure programs. Applicants submit a single letter of intent to be considered for both programs. A regional representative will contact applicants to help review the project proposal and the steps necessary for delivering a funded project. Applicants will then submit a full grant application. A total of $6.5 million is available in federal funding through...
Minnesota Manufacturing Week

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed Oct. 1-7, 2018 as Minnesota Manufacturing Week. Because manufacturing is a vital part of Minnesota’s economic health. One in nine jobs in Minnesota is in manufacturing – and these tend to be high-quality jobs that pay well. The average manufacturing job paid $65,728 in 2017. That’s over $9,500 – about 17 percent – higher than the typical job in Minnesota. “Manufacturing plays a critical role in the growth of Minnesota’s economy, providing access to high-quality, high-wages jobs,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. Manufacturing contributed $49.2 billion to the state’s economy (Gross Domestic Product) in 2017. Minnesota has 319,000 jobs...
In Southwest Minnesota, food manufacturing brings much to the table

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Southwest Minnesota accounts for nearly one-fourth of the food manufacturing jobs in the state. Chew on this: Southwest Minnesota is home to 109 food manufacturing establishments providing more than 13,000 jobs and $571.5 million in annual payroll. That is nearly 25 percent of the state’s total employment in food manufacturing, making it one of the region’s most distinguishing industries. In 2017, food manufacturing was nearly four times more concentrated in Southwest Minnesota than the state as a whole. Not surprisingly, Southwest also has several other agriculture-related industries that are more concentrated in the region than the rest of the state: animal production...
DEED awards $2.16 million for redevelopment projects

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Eight blighted sites targeted for cleanup and redevelopment ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded $2.16 million in grants and loans for eight redevelopment projects in Minnesota.  The agency awarded seven grants under its Redevelopment Grant Program for projects in Battle Lake, Edina, Fridley, Mankato, Minneapolis (two) and Winona. In addition, DEED approved a loan from its Demolition Loan Program for a project in Braham. The projects will create or retain 1,822 jobs and increase local tax bases by $2.6 million. “Redevelopment grants and loans are a good taxpayer investment, with the latest round of projects attracting $151.8 million...
Growing Minnesota’s natural foods industry

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Consumers are concerned about what they’re eating and where it comes from. In the case of processed foods, more people today are reading the ingredients list. Current studies show that shoppers are purchasing natural foods at significantly increasing rates. Minnesota is a known innovator in food production. As local companies begin to take advantage of the market demand for natural foods, Great River Energy is exploring this opportunity and the ways it might assist its member-owner cooperatives in meeting the needs of companies in their service territories. Great River Energy attended California’s Natural Products Expo West earlier this year with the Minnesota...
Innovations in Minnesota’s indoor ag sector

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

An increasing number of consumers are demanding high quality, local and organic produce. A recent study showed that millennials eat 52 percent more vegetables than previous generations. The National Organic Standards Board recently declared that indoor hydroponic operations can be certified organic under USDA regulations, which should help drive market growth and opportunity. As more Minnesota companies work to innovate in fresh food production, Great River Energy is taking a proactive approach. Last spring, the economic development team participated in the Indoor Ag-Con event in Las Vegas to learn more about the burgeoning indoor ag sector and strategize about facilitating its growth. For...
South Central College, Metropolitan State University partner nursing programs

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

NORTH MANKATO — A new partnership will allow South Central College nursing students to seamlessly transfer to Metropolitan State University. Leaders of the colleges announced an expanded articulation program Thursday that will make it even easier for future nurses to earn an associates degree in nursing at either of South Central College's two campuses and go on to Metropolitan State University to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing. All colleges and universities within the Minnesota State system already have an articulation agreement guaranteeing graduates of two-year nursing programs with good academic standing the opportunity to continue their studies at a four-year university. “The...
College and Community: A win-win relationship

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Any talk of that old adage about “town and gown” – when walls of social separation and professional tensions exist between a college and the town in which it resides – will fall on deaf ears when you speak with most people in the Alexandria area. In fact, many speak with tremendous pride about the relationship that exists between the Alexandria Technical and Community College and the city of Alexandria. “There is just such a synergy in this area between the community and the college that has been so impressive to me,” said Tara Bitzan, executive director of the Alexandria Lakes...
County leadership discuss change, challenges, vision

Monday, October 08, 2018

The Association of Minnesota Counties strategic planning workshop was held at Long Lake Conservation Center on Aug. 21. Workshop discussion focused on defining the core values, and reviewing the mission statement and vision of Aitkin County. In a group discussion led by Education Director Heather Bandeen, county leadership spoke about external and internal challenges faced by the organization from the perspectives of each department. “I want you to think about the challenges that are happening statewide,” Bandeen said. Responses ranged from changes in technology, need for training, retaining and recruiting staff, economic development and public communication. Continue to full article
Minnesota exports at record $5.9 billion in second quarter

Friday, October 05, 2018

Exports grew 15 percent between the second quarters of 2017 and 2018 ST. PAUL – Sales of Minnesota agricultural, mining and manufactured exports grew 15 percent to a second quarter record of $5.9 billion, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Minnesota represents the 11th largest gain in exports nationwide for this period. U.S. exports as a whole were up 11 percent, with 43 states reporting increased export sales. It is unknown whether countermeasures on U.S. exports had any impact on these statistics. Countermeasures were implemented in June and July by Canada, Mexico, China, and the European...
Minnesota looking to attract 'mass timber' producers

Thursday, October 04, 2018

A burgeoning industry based on a relatively new type of material may be coming to Minnesota. Known as mass timber, the material is an alternative to steel in building construction. While dozens of buildings constructed with the product are dotted around the country, the majority stand in the Pacific Northwest. "This type of building product is new to the U.S.," said Brian Brashaw, a program manager with the U.S. Forest Service. "It's geared at taller buildings; it's building more along the lines of four, five and six stories. That product is seeing a lot of growth in the United States." Now, local groups...
Helping startups succeed—and stay—in the Midwest

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

At the University of Minnesota, launching a new company is one of several ways that breakthrough research can move beyond the lab to benefit the public. But finding the right leader, with the right experience, to bring these new technologies to market can be difficult. “Leadership is just as important as intellectual property to a startup’s success,” said Mary MacCarthy, Venture Center program manager with the U’s Venture Center in the Office for Technology Commercialization. “The biggest challenge the U of M has with launching our startups is finding skilled, available CEOs with experience in particular industries.” A new network comprising 11...
Number of women-owned businesses increased nearly 3,000% since 1972, according to new research

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

The Eighth Annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, Commissioned by American Express, Finds Women Are Starting an Average of 1,821 Net New U.S. Businesses a Day Number of Firms Owned by Minority Women Has Grown by Nearly 3 Times That of All Women-Owned Firms Over the Past 11 Years NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018, according to analysis in the 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express (NYSE:AXP). This level of new business formation by women is greater than the daily average during the pre-recession period...
Innovation Voucher Award Program

Friday, September 28, 2018

Financial Awards Give Small Businesses Access to Technical Assistance The Innovation Voucher Award Program provides $5,000 to $25,000 awards to help small businesses purchase technical assistance and services necessary to advance research, development or commercialization of new or innovative products and services. Qualifying businesses receive awards – which the recipient must match on a 50 percent basis – to reimburse for expenses incurred for assistance and services rendered by public universities, colleges, technical schools and non-profits in Minnesota. Reimbursable expenses include purchased technical assistance and services in research, technical development, product development, commercialization, market development, technology exploration, and improved business practices, including strategies to...
Twin Metals Minnesota names Osborne CEO

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kelly Osborne has been named chief executive at Twin Metals Minnesota. Osborne returns to TMM after previously working with Duluth Metals starting in July 2012, including serving as CEO of TMM from 2014-2015. He has more than 30 years of experience in the mining industry, including underground operation. Devoted to the outdoors and northern Minnesota adventures, Osborne’s leadership values, the company said,  are consistent with TMM’s commitment to design an environmentally responsible underground mine that protects our wilderness, natural environment, and recreational and cultural resources. His industry expertise will be a valuable asset in ensuring our project meets or exceeds environmental regulations. TMM...
Entrepreneur Fund, Great River Energy combine resources

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Entrepreneur Fund and Great River Energy (GRE) are partnering to distribute $1 million of loan financing in rural areas. The money is being provided through Great River’s revolving loan fund and will be available for projects that are served by one of GRE’s electric cooperatives. They include Arrowhead Electric, Cooperative Light & Power, East Central Energy, Lake Country Power, Mille Lacs Energy and North Itasca Electric Cooperative.  The Entrepreneur Fund – which offers consulting, programming, training and small business financing up to $750,000 – will work with borrowers and guide them through the application process, then service the loans. Entrepreneur Fund...
Daikin plans $40.3 million expansion in Faribault

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Company adding to manufacturing operations, creating 132 jobs ST. PAUL – Commercial HVAC manufacturer Daikin Applied Americas Inc. will create 132 jobs and invest $40.3 million to expand its manufacturing operations in Faribault.  The company said it will buy an existing 300,000-square-foot warehouse and renovate the building into a state-of-the-art production facility. The new jobs will be created within five years and pay wages that average $22.20 an hour. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is supporting the project with a $750,000 loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund and a $1.6 million grant from the Job Creation Fund. The company will...
City of St. James awarded Small Cities Development Program grant

Friday, August 31, 2018

The City of St. James was recently awarded a grant totaling $663,320 which will help with an important issue in the community. Housing. The City of St. James first began the application process to receive the grant many months ago when a grant opportunity became available through a federal grant program called Community Development Block Grant Program. In Minnesota, the grant program is called “Small Cities Development Program,” and the City decided to pursue the grant to make improvements for the community. One of the things that the City did to help secure the grant was to hire Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership to help...
Great River Energy expected to buy St. James Spec Building

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The City of St. James is drafting a purchase agreement and speaking about terms to sell their EDA Spec Building. Maple Grove, Minn. — Great River Energy has agreed to purchase a new 20,000 square foot steel building that is currently being constructed in the St. James Industrial Park. The City of St. James Economic Development Authority approached Great River Energy about buying the building and site from the city as a way to attract and grow local business. “This site is ideal for Great River Energy,” said Jud Goerss, manager, field services. “It’s strategically placed for serving our member-owned distribution substations...
Workforce diversity is becoming more of a reality in southwest Minnesota

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Diversity is a competitive advantage. According to the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF), “research shows organizations with employees of different ages, races, genders, religions, physical abilities and thinking styles perform better.” Diversity can help to attract and retain quality employees, expand the customer base for a business and enhance performance and innovation. The reality is the workforce in southwest Minnesota is becoming more diverse, and to survive employers will need to embrace diversity. That was the message offered earlier this summer when SWIF, in conjunction with a number of regional groups, hosted “Changing Times – Changing Faces,” which addressed the reality of workplace diversity. Luke Greiner,...
MSU, SCC get grants for workforce training

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MANKATO — Minnesota State University and South Central College are among those getting grants for workforce development. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development awarded $2.7 million in grants under the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership to train 4,402 workers. Businesses initially meet with an accredited educational institution to explain their training needs and to learn options. Once they agree on a plan, the educational institution contacts DEED to determine eligibility for a grant. MSU and Gentle Touch Health Initiative received at $240,000 award. Gentle Touch operates independent, assisted living memory care and care suite properties in 40 Minnesota communities. Gentle Touch Health...
DEED awards Silver Bay area $500,000 grant

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Minnesota Department of Economic Development announced it awarded more than $500,000 to rehabilitate residential properties and commercial properties in the Silver Bay area. The grant is the result of a partnership among the City of Silver Bay, Lake County and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency. The grant would provide up to $24,750 for 10 "owner occupied" low- to moderate-income single-family homes. The money could then be used to make improvements on the home such as a new roof, siding or even rehabilitating a kitchen or bathroom. The money can't be used for any outbuildings, like a garage, but otherwise, the money can...
Lake Country Power holds groundbreaking ceremony

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lake Country Power representatives gathered July 31 for a special groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site of its future new headquarters in Cohasset, Minn. Officials from Lake Country Power, Hawk Construction, Architectural Resources, Inc., and the City of Cohasset, were present with shovels in hand, hard hats and comments for the nearly 60 individuals in attendance. Other local officials were also present. “This is a long-term investment that will serve Lake Country Power members and employees for the next 50 years or more,” said Greg Randa, general manager for Lake Country Power. “It’s also a positive change for the co-op’s future as...
'Wherever you are going, we are going too': Transit Alternatives’ Otter Express more than just a jingle

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

‘Wherever you are going, we are going too’ “Wherever you are going, we are going too,” is a fun jingle that many people in the area would recognize as the Transit Alternatives Otter Express motto. It’s simple and yet couldn’t be more true as they seek to help people to get to where they otherwise wouldn’t be able to go. This program is all thanks to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Productive Alternatives, which is a non-profit social services agency, working together to provide the area with public transit. As President of Productive Alternatives, Steve Skauge explains, the program was created...
Chad Landmann joins Bremer Bank

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bremer Bank is pleased to announce that Chad Landmann has joined the Fergus Falls team as a business Banker. In his new role, Chad is responsible for client relationship management and new business development. Landmann has worked in the financial services industry for the past 14 years. He joined Bremer from American National Bank of Minnesota, where he served as a commercial and consumer loan officer. Previously, he worked as a member advisor at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, and earlier in his career, he was an underwriter at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.  “Chad is a wonderful addition to our team,” said...
New Chamber-led platform innovates matching employers, job-seekers

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Minnesota Chamber Foundation has expanded its initiatives to help connect employers and candidates in the midst of today’s challenging workforce shortage. MN Job Match is a distinctive job-to-candidate matching platform that helps employers find the right fit in qualified candidates. “Businesses are only as strong as the talented people they employ. And hiring the right people – with the right talent – is more challenging and important than ever before,” said Doug Loon, Minnesota Chamber president. “Traditional recruiting methods often require sorting through volumes of resumes, which is costly and time consuming. It often means settling for less than ideal...
County to apply for grant to fund more broadband

Monday, August 20, 2018

Aitkin County may have an opportunity to increase its broadband funding through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB) community infrastructure grant. Upon recommendation from Economic Development Coordinator Ross Wagner, the board approved submitting an application for the IRRRB grant during its regular meeting on July 24. Last year, the county dedicated $450,000 for a three-year Aitkin County Broadband Development Grant, to be funded at $150,000 a year for local projects. This year, SCI Broadband, Inc. and Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) submitted applications to the county. The Economic Development Committee recommended the county award its grant to SCI since it will...
Grand opening of new Bell Museum has link to Palisade company

Monday, August 20, 2018

Superior Thermowood of Minnesota’s Palisade wood treatment plant has been processing wood, making specialized parts, and negotiating new markets, all while working to rebuild after a devastating fire in July 2015. The business was open within 13 days of the fire to complete orders for lumber. However, according to owner and manager John Bieganek it’s been an unbelievable challenge for him and his employees, Gene Mejdrich, Vern Bishop, and Greg Kaczor to move forward with all the damage from the fire still so visible around them. Despite the challenges, roughly 360,000 board feet of lumber was processed in 2017. Rising from the...
Broadband initiative success stories shared with Blandin leadership

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Community leaders from Aitkin met with Bernadine Joselyn and Mary Magnuson of Blandin Foundation, and Bill Coleman from Community Technology Resources in Aitkin on July 21. The group met to share success stories and celebrate the first round of Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) success stories. The BBC program is an intensive, two-year partnership between rural Minnesota communities (cities, counties, tribes or other self-identified communities of interest or place) and the foundation. Selected communities work through a proven process to define their technology goals, measure current levels of broadband access and use, and seek technical assistance and resources to meet their goals. Each BBC...
In a tight labor market, Minnesota employers look to an under-utilized labor pool: workers with disabilities

Saturday, August 18, 2018

On the main floor of the Minneapolis-based Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI), Karen Howson is busy arranging piles of flat plastic sheets and transferring them to a nearby production line. From there, her co-workers fold the sheets and then carefully place them under sonic welding machines to form corrugated plastic mail trays that will eventually go to the United States Postal Service. In July, Howson will celebrate her second anniversary as a full-time production line worker at MDI, which designs and manufactures plastic totes, trays, boxes and other products for big and small companies, including Amazon, Caribou Coffee, Best Buy and 3M. Continue to full article
This Minnesota Startup Built a National Directory for Women-Owned Businesses

Saturday, August 18, 2018

MAIA launched earlier this year with a straightforward, single-minded goal: to compile a huge list of women-owned businesses and turn it into an easily-searchable online directory. By developing a platform that made it easy to find women-owned businesses, MAIA founders Kateri Ruiz and Angel Rowell hope to make it easy for consumers to find and support female entrepreneurs across the country. Eden Prairie-based MAIA officially launched in late April, and now has more than 700,000 businesses from across the country listed on its site. But this is just the beginning, Ruiz and Rowell told Minne Inno. There are around 11.5 million women-owned businesses in the United...
Everything you need to know about Minnesota’s startup incubators and accelerators

Friday, August 17, 2018

Getting a startup off the ground is hard work, but incubators and accelerators are there to help. They provide early-stage companies with essential resources such as a workspace, mentorship, and often times funding to give them a fighting chance. More and more startups are popping up in the Twin Cities, and right along with them are more accelerators and incubators to help them find success. Accelerators and incubators are similar, but not interchangeable. While incubators offer ongoing support, coaching and connections – operating like a co-working space with benefits – accelerators tend to be structured programs for a certain length of...
Midwest manufacturing growth slows, but still strong

Friday, August 17, 2018

Minnesota, Midwest saw an increase in June, but the rate has slowed Manufacturing growth, while still strong, slowed some in June as producers said they worried about the impact of U.S. trade tariffs and global trade wars. The monthly Mid-America Business Conditions Index, produced by Creighton University, tracks factory conditions in Minnesota and eight other central states. Results for June showed the growth index at 61.8, down from an unusually robust 67.3 in May but still far above the neutral growth 50. Minnesota's index fell to 58.8 from 64.2 in May, putting it seventh among the nine states surveyed. Continue to full article
Jobs bounce back in May after weather-related hiring pause

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Minnesota’s unemployment rate for May dropped to 3.1 percent, with the addition of 10,200 jobs.    With those gains, the state has added 29,188 jobs in the past year, a 1 percent growth rate. Sector details: Manufacturing gained 1,400 jobs in May. Minnesota’s over-the-month growth rate in manufacturing of 0.4% in May was again higher than the US average of 0.1%. Given revised April and preliminary May job numbers, 2018 bodes well for manufacturing. The past four months registered the longest streak of over-the-month gains since December 2014. Job gains were concentrated in Durable Goods manufacturing which gained 1,200 (+0.6%) over-the-month jobs, while Non-Durable...
Minnesota business firms expect unchanged conditions for 2019

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Firms point to stability in the state’s overall economy ST. PAUL – Minnesota business services firms feel positive about the economy, with nearly 90 percent expecting sales revenue to increase or remain stable next year, according to a joint survey released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Business services firms are less optimistic, however, that productivity and employment levels will grow or remain stable in 2019. Sixty-eight percent expect their supply of workers to remain stable. That’s down from 77 percent last year. Only 7 percent of respondents anticipate labor availability...
Co-ops help strengthen the manufacturing sector

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Manufacturing is critical to a vibrant economy. It helps fuel innovation — for every $1 spent in manufacturing another $1.89 is added to the economy, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. East Central Energy (ECE) understands the value of supporting manufacturing. That’s why the cooperative recently approved two loans to support expansion projects at manufacturing facilities in Sauk Rapids and Cambridge. ECE is one of Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives. The co-op provides electric service to more than 60,000 homes, farms and businesses across 14 counties in east central Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. ECE maintains an economic development revolving loan fund (RLF)...
Daikin Applied expanding its manufacturing presence in Minnesota

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

On its journey to become the No. 1 applied HVAC manufacturer in North America, Daikin Applied recently announced its proposal to expand production capabilities with a new state-of-the-art, built-to-order manufacturing facility in southern Minnesota, north of Faribault. Daikin selected Minnesota to host the $40 million project over competing sites in the southern United States and Mexico, due in part to infrastructure upgrade commitments made and financed through a partnership between the city of Faribault, Rice County and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Great River Energy is also assisting in the project by covering Rice County’s portion of the financial...
Illume to move its headquarters to Maple Grove Business Park

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Maple Grove's new 50-acre business park has found an anchor tenant. Illume Holding Co., which produces candles and other personal fragrance products, recently announced plans to consolidate its operations into a 288,000-square-foot facility in the Arbor Lakes Business Park being developed by Duke Realty. Bob Sandberg, vice president of power supply and business development for Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association (WH), said “the addition of Illume will help diversify the economy in the Arbor Lakes area, adding a new segment of development from the retail and apartments complexes which have driven development to date.” In addition, Sandberg noted, “the addition of Illume candles and...
Women collaborating, making strides in their industries together

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Women are playing an increasingly important role in the worlds of commercial real estate and economic development – and they are bringing with them a wealth of knowledge from previous jobs on their career path, as well as the strength of relationships built among each other along the way. Erin Sparks, economic developer with Great River Energy – a not-for-profit wholesale power cooperative based out of Maple Grove, Minn. – and Kylle Jordan, regional business development manager at Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), are examples of women making strides in their fields while working collaboratively to achieve both...
DEED approves job creation funding for five businesses

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Businesses commit to investing $20.7 million, creating 131 jobs ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) approved grants totaling nearly $706,000 to support five business expansion projects in Greater Minnesota.  Grants from the Job Creation Fund were approved for projects in Glenwood, Stewartville, Albert Lea, Monticello and Zimmerman. Four of the businesses are majority woman-owned firms.  "Supporting business expansions like these is exactly what the Minnesota Job Creation Fund is designed to do," said Governor Mark Dayton. "I congratulate these Minnesota businesses and their hard-working employees for their successes. We are grateful for their contributions to our economy and...
Rural communities see big returns with broadband access, but roadblocks persist

Monday, July 30, 2018

“For rural America there’s a major struggle to keep people and ideas in these small communities,” said a small town mayor. A contractor building high-end houses in Minneapolis swung by Greg Hull’s sawmill on Friday, a timber operation located in deeply rural Lake County, Minnesota. The builder had seen Hull’s website and driven nearly 250 miles to the mill to inspect Hull’s high-end lumber as potential building material for his homes. These days that’s not unusual. In the past year-and-a-half, Hull has seen orders balloon and interest grow, and a significant factor is his recent ability to gain access to high-speed internet....
Minnesota's youth labor force growing

Monday, July 23, 2018

New numbers from DEED show Minnesota has more teens working during the summer. MINNESOTA - Summer is almost here and that means kids are antsy to get out of school and start having more fun. But many teens will be busy working, some collecting a paycheck for the first time. Through Growing Good, about 50 youth will be digging in the dirt at community gardens in the Twin Cities. The program is run by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to teach kids job and life skills. "They're growing vegetables, herbs and selling them to local restaurants. They're learning how to create invoices, communication skills, and...
Growing Minnesota’s food industry

Friday, July 20, 2018

Agriculture and food processing have long been an integral part of Minnesota’s economy. The state’s agriculture and food production industries now account for $57.5 billion in sales and more than 147,000 jobs. Food manufacturers are increasingly harnessing advanced technology to move the industry forward. Two-thirds of the state’s food production companies are located in rural areas, which presents an opportunity for Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives. Great River Energy’s economic development services team is developing a cohesive strategy to help its member-owners capitalize on Minnesota’s growing food industry, with financing programs to support expanding businesses and shovel-ready sites to attract new investment...
Optimism grows among Minnesota manufacturers

Friday, July 20, 2018

The state of manufacturing is strong. A full 93 percent of Minnesota manufacturers are financially confident about the future, which is just a hair off last year's high-water mark of 94 percent, according to a recently released survey by Enterprise Minnesota. "There has never been as much energy in manufacturing as there is today," said the consulting firm's CEO, Bob Kill. "And that's a cool thing to say, because we face a lot of challenges." Kill unveiled the results of the 10th annual State of Manufacturing survey Thursday morning at the Radisson Hotel Duluth to a crowd of economic development professionals that welcomed...
Ranking of world's top 1,000 universities puts Minnesota, many from Big Ten in first 50

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A well-regarded annual ranking of 1,000 of the world’s universities is out, and the University of Minnesota is one of nine Big Ten schools landing among the top 50. The U came in 35th on the list released by the Center for World University Rankings. The center, based in the United Arab Emirates, is a global consulting organization providing policy and strategic advice, and consulting services to governments and universities. It has been publishing the academic ranking of universities since 2012. Continue to full article
How Minnesota farmers are using different plant varieties, and new techniques, to extend the state's growing season

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

When horticultural and wine scientists at the University of Minnesota apply for funding to research growing grapes in a climate better known for producing soybeans than wine, they often have to answer a common question: Why bother? “We get that pushback when we submit grants all the time,” said Matt Clark, who leads the University’s grape breeding project. The simple answer – why not? – smacks of the same spirit many Minnesotans adopt to handle long, cold winters. Yes, the climate presents challenges, but farmers and ag researchers also see opportunities: Breeding cold-hardy fruit varieties has made the university a lot of money...
Survey report suggests Midwest economy still steaming ahead

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. — The surging business conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states will be tested by trade conflicts and other factors that could slow growth, an economist said in a survey report issued. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index recorded its highest mark in 14 years last month, hitting 67.3 in May, compared with 64.5 in April, according to the report. The March figure was 62.1. This is the 18th straight month the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0, pointing to strong growth for the region over the next three to six months. Continue to full article
The state of internet connectivity in Minnesota’s K-12 schools

Monday, July 16, 2018

96 percent of Minnesota school districts had access to high-speed Internet in their classrooms. Here’s what’s left to do. Ninety-six percent of Minnesota school districts had access to high-speed Internet in their classrooms in 2017. This year, thanks to federal and state funding and local partnerships, we may see every school district in Minnesota on a scalable fiber connection to support K-12 education.  The Minnesota Legislature established goals to help Minnesotans improve the availability and use of broadband services in 2010. Shortly after, the Office of Broadband Development was created to “connect communities, policy-makers, providers, regional support organizations, and state and federal programs with each...
U.S. Treasury approves Minnesota Opportunity Zones

Friday, July 13, 2018

128 census tracts in Minnesota to receive the designation ST. PAUL – The U.S. Department of Treasury today approved 128 low-income census tracts in Minnesota to be designated as Opportunity Zones. All of the approved census tracts were recommended to Treasury by Gov. Mark Dayton in April following recommendations from cities, counties and tribal nations.  Opportunity Zones are a new economic and community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term economic development and housing investments in low-income communities nationwide. “Expanding access to good jobs and better opportunities has been a top priority for my Administration. These efforts have been...
Minnesota exports at $5.3 billion in first quarter

Thursday, July 12, 2018

State companies set record for export sales in a first quarter ST. PAUL – Sales of Minnesota agricultural, mining and manufactured exports soared 9 percent to a first quarter record of $5.3 billion, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).  The agency said Minnesota businesses exported 930 different products to 187 countries during the quarter. U.S. exports were up 8 percent during the period, with 45 states reporting increased export sales. “Minnesota companies achieved sales that were $450 million higher in the first quarter than in the same period a year earlier,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera...
New DEED pilot program offers interest-free loans for startups

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Minnesota Innovation Loans for Entrepreneurs accepting loan applications through July 16 ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is accepting loan applications through a new program designed to help early-stage businesses that are developing high-tech products or services in Minnesota.  Minnesota Innovation Loans for Entrepreneurs (MILE) is a pilot program that will provide interest-free loans ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. Businesses approved for loans under the program must have a 1-to-1 match from another funder and repay the loan within four years, with no payments required in the first year. The program is an initiative of the Minnesota...
Agronomy facility gets initial nod: Variance, CUP recommended to town board

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Two hearings marked progress in CHS Prairie Lakes' plan to build a new agronomy facility in Todd Township. At both hearings, CHS requests were questioned by residents of the area near Portage Lake, but township officials recommended approval. The Starbuck-based agricultural service firm, which has operated a facility for 50 years in the city of Park Rapids, hopes to store fertilizer, feed and seed on a 27.8-acre property at the southwest corner of County Road 48 and County Road 28. The company recently purchased the land from Todd and Tracy Hughes and had part of it rezoned from agricultural to commercial. Continue to full article. 
People, power costs keep indoor farming down to Earth

Monday, July 09, 2018

There’s a budding industry that’s trying to solve the problem of the limp lettuce and tasteless tomatoes in America’s supermarkets. It’s full of technologists who grow crops in buildings instead of outdoors, short-cutting the need to prematurely harvest produce for a bumpy ride often thousands of miles to consumers in colder climes. More than 30 high-tech companies from the U.S. to Singapore hoping to turn indoor farming into a major future food source, if only they can clear a stubborn hurdle: high costs. These companies stack plants inside climate-controlled rooms, parse out nutrients and water, and bathe them with specialized light. It’s all...
Steering students toward manufacturing

Friday, July 06, 2018

Victoria Erickson placed a welding helmet on her head and slid her hands into a pair of safety gloves, eager for her turn to practice soldering at Ridgewater College. “I love it,” she said after she finished. Erickson, 15, a sophomore at LeSueur-Henderson High School, began learning about welding this past year after enrolling in her school’s welding program. She said she likes “the hands-on experience. It’s really entertaining.” Erickson was one of about 165 area high school students who attended Ridgewater College’s Manufacturing Expo April 6 in Hutchinson. Tammy Jablonski, a machine tool technology instructor who helped organize Ridgewater’s sixth annual Manufacturing Expo,...
Lake Country Power selects contractor to build new service center in Cohasset

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Lake Country Power has selected Hawk Construction, a Grand Rapids area contractor, to lead construction of the electric cooperative’s new service center in Cohasset, Minn. The co-op will break ground on the $11.2 million project later this spring. Hawk Construction provided the lowest bid for the 68,000-square-foot facility. All bids came in under the co-op’s projected construction costs. The service center will be in Cohasset’s expanded industrial park, west of the co-op’s present location along U. S. Highway 2. “This is a long-term investment that will serve Lake Country Power members and employees for the next 50 years or more,” said Greg...
Schara joins WCI as marketing coordinator

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

West Central Initiative welcomes Rick Schara as its new marketing coordinator. He will work primarily on WCI’s Live Wide Open regional marketing campaign, helping businesses, communities, counties and organizations promote reasons for people to live and work in west-central Minnesota. Schara previously worked for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) as a business services representative. Prior to DEED, he was executive director of the 544 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping support the mission of the Fergus Falls Area School District. He has a master’s degree in business communications from the University of St. Thomas and a bachelor’s in...
Market value up in county

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The overall estimated market value of Aitkin County is showing its first substantial increase since the 2008 assessment. “This is good for a stable real estate market,” said Assessor Mike Dangers. The Certificates of Real Estate Value (CRV) is filed with the state each time a real property sale of $1,000 or more takes place. CRV volume has increased over 30 percent in the last three years. This is evidence of an active real estate market, Dangers said. Another indication of a healthier market is the number of sheriff sales and sales where banks are the seller continue to decline in the...
MLEC’s Zelenak: ‘Focus is on safety, efficiency, community’

Monday, July 02, 2018

The annual meeting of the Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) at Eddy’s Mille Lacs Lake Resort was attended by 93 members. Minnesota Senator Carrie Ruud attended the meeting briefly, as did David Saggau, CEO of Great River Energy (GRE). GRE is the wholesale supplier of electricity to the cooperative, which is one of 28 different distribution systems supplied by GRE. The full annual audit report of the cooperative’s financial statements can be viewed at the cooperative office. Board election Ballots were counted for the election of MLEC board members. Incumbents Bruce Robinson of Palisade and Michael Reem of Aitkin were elected for...
2019 Final Four to bring $142M, 94,000 visitors to Twin Cities, analysis claims

Friday, June 29, 2018

Event at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2019 will attract 94,000 visitors — and their wallets.  The economic impact estimate is in for the 2019 Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium, so let the debate begin. The number is $142 million. “We didn’t want the biggest number, we wanted the most credible number,” Final Four CEO Kate Mortenson said. The 2019 Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee commissioned the report by Pennsylvania-based Rockport Analytics, the same firm that did the pre-Super Bowl LII estimates and is now analyzing the actual financial gains from the NFL event. Trying to define a community’s financial benefit from hosting a...
Gov. Dayton submits Opportunity Zone Recommendation to U.S. Treasury

Thursday, June 28, 2018

128 census tracts in Minnesota recommended for Opportunity Zone designation Gov. Mark Dayton recommended to the U.S. Department of Treasury 128 low-income census tracts in Minnesota to be designated as Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones are a new economic and community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term economic development and housing investments in low-income communities nationwide. “Expanding access to good jobs and better opportunities has been a top priority for my Administration. These efforts have been especially important in communities that are experiencing continuing economic disparities,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “The Opportunity Zones program provides Minnesota a great...
Pathways to Prosperity awards $17.8 million statewide for 57 workforce training programs

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Workers with employment barriers receive training for in-demand careers The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has awarded 57 grants statewide totaling $17,884,007 under the Minnesota Pathways to Prosperity program. Pathways to Prosperity Competitive Grants fund programs and services designed to provide workforce development and training opportunities to adults in Minnesota experiencing barriers to employment. These programs help job seekers develop increased career awareness, participate in education training and skills-training programs, and connect to employment in high growth, high demand industries with long-term opportunities. "The Pathways to Prosperity initiative plays an essential role in the training of our state's workforce, and...
Four companies awarded Job Creation Fund grants

Friday, June 22, 2018

Funding will support economic development in Barnesville, Cottage Grove, Norwood Young America, and Ranier Grants totaling more than $560,000 were approved by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for business expansion projects in four cities. DEED awarded the funding from its Job Creation Fund for projects in Barnesville, Cottage Grove, Norwood Young America, and Ranier. The grants were approved during the first quarter of 2018. The grants are expected to create 49 new jobs. "The Job Creation Fund plays an important role not only in job creation but also in enhancing a community's tax base by supporting these investments," said...
Ritz Machine Works to open first U.S. facility in Cambridge

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A tube bending and manufacturing services company based in Canada will open their first U.S. facility in Cambridge. During the Cambridge City Council meeting Feb. 20, Economic Development Director Stan Gustafson explained staff has been working with Ritz Machine Works from Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada, that will be starting its U.S. operation in a vacant industrial building located at 315 Garfield St. S., in the southeast Industrial Park. Following discussion, the council approved a loan agreement and promissory note for $50,000 to Ritz Machine Works. The loan will have an interest rate of 3 percent amortized over seven years. The building at 315 Garfield St....
Interior Department renews leases for Twin Metals mine project

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The U.S. Interior Department said it has reinstated the mineral rights leases for a company that wants to build a copper-nickel mine near Ely in northeastern Minnesota, reversing a decision to deny the renewals that was made in the closing weeks of the Obama administration. The department’s Bureau of Land Management informed Twin Metals Minnesota of its decision in a letter, company spokesman Bob McFarlin said. The move followed a legal opinion from the department’s solicitor last December that concluded that Twin Metals has the right to renew its two leases, which date back to 1966. President Barack Obama’s administration had cited the...
Hansen taking Northspan reins as Lasky retires; Palmquist promoted

Monday, June 18, 2018

The The Northspan Group’s Board of Directors selected Elissa Hansen to succeed Randy Lasky as president and CEO when he retires. “We’re excited to welcome Elissa to the Northspan team,” said Jeff Borling, Economic Development Lead at Great River Energy and chair of the Northspan Board of Directors. “It was a tough decision given the number of highly qualified candidates who applied for the job, but we are confident Elissa possesses the right combination of skills and experience needed to ensure Northspan continues to serve as an innovative leader in regional economic development and business consulting.” For more than a decade, Hansen has...
Profit Mastery offered in Grand Rapids

Friday, June 15, 2018

Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), in partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth Center for Economic Development, brought Profit Mastery to Grand Rapids. The workshop was held April 24 and 25. Profit Mastery is a program developed by BRS, built around the core premise that to improve financial performance, it must be measured. Profit Mastery training is designed to help owners and managers of small business better understand financial management. The two day, hands on training included: basics of cash flow management; financial statement analysis; cash flow planning; overcoming common cost, volume and pricing issues; and preparation for growth. The cash-to-cash...
Allstar makes winning change; countdown begins for move into new facility

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Milaca-area wee ones who attend the Allstar Child Care Center are about to graduate to a different Milaca location and a brand-new facility designed especially for the needs of infant-through-school-age children.  Business owner Linnea Otto, Allstar Director Amanda Hoffman and the 20 other employees in the Allstar family are busy but beyond excited to be moving into the new facility. Continue to full article
Kwik Trip outlines plans for Milaca

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Kwik Trip presented its plans at the March 12 Milaca Planning Commission meeting for a station and convenience store at 920 First St., just north of the Hardee’s, to be completed in the 2019 construction season.  Kwik Trip development coordinator Nate Byom said, “I just want to say how excited we are to come to Milaca.” Continue to full article. 
Expo shows off business emphasizes community

Monday, June 11, 2018

Milaca Chamber Director Andrea Mikla said she had 30 vendors booked but room for a few more in the 51st annual Business Expo and CommUnity Breakfast held March 24 at the high school, 500 Highway 23 West. The Expo ran until noon, but the complimentary breakfast of pancakes, sausage and eggs ended at 11:30 a.m. Mikla there are usually 800 to 1,000 breakfasts served, so that is a rough estimate of how many people came to the event. Businesses and organizations set up booth space around the gym and breakfast area to offer products, communicate information and meet people. Continue to full article.   
Daikin Applied proposes expanding its manufacturing presence in Minnesota

Monday, May 21, 2018

On its journey to become the number one applied HVAC manufacturer in North America, Daikin Applied announced its proposal to expand production capabilities with a new state-of-the-art, built-to-order manufacturing facility in Southern Minnesota, north of the city of Faribault. Daikin Applied is a division of Daikin Industries, the world's number one air conditioning company headquartered in Japan. As the global HVAC leader, Daikin Industries has more than 90 production bases around the world to meet the specific needs of regional world markets, including two successful US plants in Faribault and Owatonna, Minnesota. Daikin Industries' executives and team members explored multiple site...
New Minnesota USDA rural development director focused on improving quality of life

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Brad Finstad understands rural Minnesota. Having grown up in that setting and served in various capacities related to rural Minnesota in both the public and private sector, Finstad has a handle on the issues communities are facing. In addition, Finstad served as a legislative aid and then as a state representative, so he has an understanding of how government works. All of that experience will serve Finstad well in his newest role as state director of USDA rural development. “It is quite an honor for me to serve in this role,” said Finstad, adding he was appointed by President Trump. “My whole career has...
Chamber hosting Women’s Networking event

Monday, April 09, 2018

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a networking and development opportunity for women on March 15,  at the Best Western Plus/New Ulm Conference Center. Mingle With A Purpose: Heels And All, featured Molly Cox, was an opportunity for women to get together, network with other women, and leave with a re-energized outlook on home and work life. This was the 5th Annual Women’s Networking Event. The evening began at 5 p.m. with mingling, hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar. This was also an opportunity to take advantage of complimentary professional headshots sponsored by Citizens Bank that was offered.  There was a...
Business survival rate top in the nation

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Minnesota has the country’s highest five-year survival rate for new businesses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Minnesota, of the businesses that launched five years ago in 2012, 57.4 percent of them were still operating. That’s the highest percentage nationwide. The five-year survival rate nationally is 50.2 percent. Many Midwestern and Plains states landed in the top 10 for their business five-year survival rate: 1. Minnesota, 57.4 percent 2. South Dakota, 56 percent 3. Massachusetts, 55.7 percent 4. Iowa, 55.4 percent 5. Wisconsin, 55.1 percent 6. Maine, 54.7 percent 7. Missouri, 53.8 percent 8. Ohio, 53.5 percent 9./10. California and Montana, 53.4 percent Continue to full article. 
Hutchinson businesses can showcase what they do at Expo

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Hutchinson businesses can showcase what their business does in the community at the Bring It Home Family Fun & Business Expo. The expo will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 14 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. All participating businesses/organizations must be located within a 10-mile radius of Hutchinson. The Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce’s Bring It Home Committee hosts this event to showcase what is in Hutchinson and to remind community members that there is no need to leave Hutchinson to purchase goods and services that they need. This one-day expo draws all age ranges. There are activities for children,...
Starting a business? Help is available

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

The 2018 edition of “A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota” is available from the Small Business Assistance Office at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The guide, which is free of charge, provides a summary of issues faced by people starting a business in Minnesota. “Small businesses employ just over half of the private-sector workforce and create nearly two-thirds of the nation’s jobs,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “While starting a business is no easy task, this guide gives entrepreneurs the information they need to start a successful business in Minnesota.” The guide contains information for business success. It...
Venema appointed consumer account rep at Lake Country Power

Monday, April 02, 2018

Lake Country Power recently appointed Becky Venema of Bovey, MN as consumer account rep II in its Grand Rapids Service Center. Venema will be responsible for resolving a wide range of member inquires and concerns regarding issues such as billing, work orders, service orders and transfers. Venema most recently worked as an accountant at the Bigfork Valley Hospital. She has a bachelor’s degree from Rasmussen University in accounting. Continue to full article. 
Remer Northland School accepts more than $39,000 from Lake Country Power

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Lake Country Power recently presented a rebate check to Northland Community Schools in Remer, Minn., for $39,781, making it the largest commercial rebate the co-op has processed to-date. “It was a nice surprise to receive this money from Lake Country Power,” said Dan Switzer, chair of the school board. “There was so much going on during the building project that we didn’t know rebates would be available from the co-op.” The Remer Northland School installed high efficiency LED lighting, and variable frequency drives on the motors for its new building, qualifying the school for the rebate. These energy-saving products will help the...
Economic development services launches new website

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Great River Energy has launched a revamped website that highlights its economic development efforts in Minnesota that includes a comprehensive suite of user-friendly tools and information for site selectors, entrepreneurs and business owners. The new economic development portal is a comprehensive repository featuring data from Great River Energy’s 28 member cooperatives and their service territories, in-depth information on industry sectors, resources for businesses looking to relocate and more. The site was rebranded with an updated look and feel, featuring an interactive map of the cooperative service territories. Users can click on areas of the map to bring up individual co-op profiles with...
Faribault Foods expansion earns EDAM’s Project of the Year Award

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The City of Faribault recently received the 2018 Project of the Year Award by the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM) for working diligently with Faribault Foods and La Costena Group to accommodate a large-scale expansion project involving complex public infrastructure needs and an aggressive timeline. EDAM hosted an awards ceremony as part of its annual winter conference to recognize projects and professionals in the economic development industry who have gone above and beyond or faced significant challenges in the last year.  The Project of the Year Award recognizes an individual or a group who worked to complete a project that...
Fergus Falls Area Entrepreneurs, Creators & Innovators approaches one year anniversary

Thursday, March 29, 2018

January and February are the months of annual reports for many organizations and for the Fergus Falls Area Entrepreneurs, Creators & Innovators (EC&I) it is not different. Formed in April of 2017, the Fergus Falls Area EC & I is a monthly gathering of entrepreneurs, technologists, veterans, students, investors, artists and anyone who is an innovation enthusiast. Participants come from multiple counties and attend when their schedules allow – translation: no membership requirements and notices are shared online via Meetup and Eventbrite. The question could be asked, do we really need another gathering? EC&I members over this last year have, after percolating...
Great River Energy certifies new round of data center sites

Thursday, March 29, 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...
Lambrecht helps market region for data center growth

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Many organizations and people play a role when it comes to promoting Minnesota as a place to do business, including Tom Lambrecht, economic development services manager at Great River Energy, who recently participated on a panel at the Utilities and Data Center Conference in Austin, Texas. There, Lambrecht touted the Midwest region’s capabilities for data centers and that, as a utility, bringing this type of business to Minnesota is a top priority for Great River Energy. As large-scale power users, data centers stabilize the demand for power and bring economic growth. They represent large capital investment projects, bring good jobs and...
Spurring business growth in Anoka County

Thursday, March 29, 2018

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” - James Cash Penney This apt quote by the founder of the department store chain JCPenney can be applied to economic development. Sustainable growth requires investment and engagement from a broad range of stakeholders. But gathering disparate parties to work in concert with one another toward a given goal requires leadership. A couple of years ago while attending GREATER MSP meetings, Bruce Sayler, principal of community and economic development at Connexus Energy, noticed the vast majority of big development projects in the region were taking place within the...
Local counties eligible for support from FCC’s Connect America Fund

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Nearly 17,500 rural homes and businesses in Minnesota that are currently unserved by high-speed Internet service could get connectivity in the near future. These homes and businesses are in unserved areas of Minnesota eligible for financial support from the next phase of FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF), which helps offset the high cost of extending broadband service into rural areas. The FCC will be distributing these funds through an innovative “reverse auction,” which is scheduled to launch on July 24. “Connecting the unconnected in rural America is my top priority,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “I’m excited that our CAF auction will...
McGregor Baking Company 2017 Business of the Year

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Mark and Stacy Bohn, owners of McGregor Baking Company and Café, were presented with the 2017 Business of the Year award at the annual McGregor Area Chamber of Commerce dinner held on Jan. 29. The Bohns opened the McGregor Baking Co. and Café in May 2006, a result of the encouragement of Stacy’s uncle Terry Babcock and his wife, Paula, who own a bakery called “A Sweet Affair” in Walnut Creek, Calif. Mark trained in the art of baking in the San Francisco Bay area in an effort to bring delectable baked goods to the McGregor area, while Stacy uses her creativity...
Business consulting services offered in Aitkin

Monday, March 26, 2018

The North Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Central Lakes College recently began offering its business consulting services at the Birchwood Center in Aitkin. The SBDC offers information, training and consulting to individuals who are interested in starting or purchasing a business and to owners of existing businesses who are looking to expand. The program is paid for through a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and Central Lakes College. The center serves 11 counties in north central Minnesota with its regional headquarters in Brainerd. While the SBDC has been part of...
Priming 20 acres for potential industrial development

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Aitkin Action Alliance met on Feb. 14. Industrial Park Committee member Ross Wagner reported to the group that Aitkin County recently approved the land transfer for over 200 acres along the Mississippi River. Aitkin County Growth will retain 20 acres from the sale, and will use proceeds from the sale of 207.5 acres for site development through Minnesota DEED Shovel Ready program. Shovel Ready refers to commercial and industrial sites that have had all of the planning, zoning, surveys, title work, environmental studies, soils analysis and public infrastructure engineering completed prior to putting the site up for sale. The Shovel Ready program...
Minnesota ranked as having best average credit rating in nation

Friday, March 23, 2018

Minnesotans' noted Midwestern work ethic apparently extends to personal finance. The consumer and business credit rating agency Experian said in its State of Credit report for 2017 that Minnesotans have the highest credit scores in the country. The company's annual survey shows that Minnesotans have an average credit score of 709 out of 850, well above the national average of 675. Vermont and New Hampshire trailed Minnesota residents with average scores of 702 and 701 respectively. Minnesota's neighbors also ranked in the top 10: South Dakota ranked fourth with an average score of 700; North Dakota, sixth with 697; Wisconsin, seventh with 696; and Iowa,...
Formula for Success: Minnesota Biotech & Life Sciences

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Minnesota cements status as national leader in bioscience research and discovery A University of Minnesota spinout company is working to develop an artificial liver that could dramatically reduce the number of patients who die waiting for a liver transplant. Another Minnesota company has developed a novel means of serving primary care to low-income seniors, keeping them healthy while saving them money. These are just two examples of the innovations emerging from Minnesota’s bioscience industry, which, with a nearly $23 billion annual impact and 167,000 direct and indirect jobs, is one of the largest in the country. In fact, Minnesota ranks first among...
Agricultural Business Feeds Minnesota's Economic Bottom Line

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Agriculture and food production is a major staple of the Minnesota economy Minnesota’s early economy was built on fur trading and farming, with flour being an early commodity. While the state has grown into a tech and research hub, the business of producing goods from fertile Minnesota land continues to help anchor the state’s booming economy. Economic Mainstay Minnesota’s agricultural production and processing industry entails $57.5 billion in sales more than 147,000 jobs overall. The food production industry has more than 46,000 workers, making it the largest manufacturing segment in the state by total workers. Minnesota companies also sent nearly $6.2 billion in...
With Interest – Minnesota's Financial Services Growth Spurt

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Strong financial services yield innovative new companies The financial services sector has long been an anchor of the Minnesota economy, and the banking and asset management firms the state has are creating technology-driven enterprises that complement and serve them. More than 300 banking institutions serve Minnesota with more than 1,700 branches in 595 cities. Minnesota ranks third among states in the number of banking institutions. Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, the global financial services giant, is the fifth-largest U.S. bank, with assets of nearly $450 billion. It operates 3,091 banking offices in 25 states. Minnesota also is home to Wayzata-based TCF Financial Corp., which operates...
Updated DEED Business Guide now available

Monday, March 19, 2018

Thirty-sixth edition covers major issues faced by people who start businesses ST. PAUL – The 2018 edition of “A Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota” is now available from the Small Business Assistance Office at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).  This popular guide, which is now in its 36th edition and free of charge, provides a concise summary of the major issues faced by anyone starting a business in Minnesota.  “Small businesses employ just over half of the private-sector workforce and create nearly two-thirds of the nation’s jobs,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “While starting a business is no easy...
Minn. native's Bitcoin brilliance propels him onto prestigious Forbes '30 under 30' list

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

MOORHEAD, Minn.—Olaf Carlson-Wee is a 28-year-old, San Francisco-based cryptocurrency hedge fund founder and CEO. He's also the Head of Risk and Product Manager of Coinbase, one of the most well-known digital currency exchanges in the world. For all intents and purposes, Carlson-Wee is the Wolf of Crypto Street. Carlson-Wee, a Moorhead, Minn. native, was recently named to Forbes' 2018 "30 under 30" list in the category of "finance." This marks the sixth time that Carlson-Wee has been featured in Forbes Magazine. To reiterate, he's only 28. A Forbes article published Jan. 7, 2016 titled, "This Man Has Been Living On Bitcoin For...
Regional director for Small Business Development Center greeted

Sunday, February 18, 2018

NEW ULM — The Willkommen Committee recently greeted Mike Hahn, the new Regional Director for the Small Business Development Center in Mankato. SBDC is a member of the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce. Mike brings years of community and economic development experience to his position. Originally from Iowa, Mike and his family have relocated to St. Peter from Fargo, N.D., where he served as president and CEO of the Downtown Community Partnership and administrator of Fargo’s Business Improvement District. Continue to full article. 
USA Today names Minnesota best-run state

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Minnesota is the best-run state in the nation, according to a new study from USA Today. The study 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 10th in 2012, Minnesota has consistently climbed in the rankings under the same study, including ranking second last year. “This Administration has worked hard to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota, and we are not done yet,” Gov. Mark Dayton said. “Next session, I will urge the Legislature to work with me to protect the long-term fiscal stability...
Hagen resigns, Aitkin County Growth seeks new director

Sunday, February 11, 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

Tuesday, February 06, 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

Sunday, February 04, 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

Thursday, February 01, 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

Wednesday, January 31, 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

Tuesday, January 30, 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

Monday, January 29, 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

Sunday, January 28, 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...
Shamrock Township Broadband Expansion

Tuesday, January 02, 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

Thursday, December 28, 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

Tuesday, December 26, 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

Wednesday, December 20, 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

Tuesday, December 19, 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

Monday, December 18, 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

Sunday, December 17, 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

Thursday, December 14, 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

Wednesday, December 13, 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

Tuesday, December 12, 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% in 3rd quarter

Tuesday, December 12, 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

Sunday, December 10, 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

Tuesday, December 05, 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

Sunday, December 03, 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

Wednesday, November 29, 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

Tuesday, November 28, 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 Ross...
FABTECH® 2017 focuses on ‘Industrial Revolution’

Monday, November 27, 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

Monday, November 27, 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

Sunday, November 26, 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

Wednesday, November 22, 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

Tuesday, November 21, 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

Monday, November 20, 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

Sunday, October 29, 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...
Co-ops partner to secure funds for company’s expansion project

Sunday, August 13, 2017

When Loren and Peggy Davis realized their business, Diversified Bronze & Manufacturing, Inc. (DBM), was outgrowing its rented space in Cambridge, Minn., they sought a different location to begin construction on a larger building. Working as L & P Properties LLC, the pair identified a space in the Braham Industrial Park as the perfect opportunity to build a new facility, then engaged a local bank and the electric cooperative to secure project financing. East Central Energy (ECE), which serves the Braham Industrial Park, loaned $160,000 from its Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to L & P Properties LLC for the 8,612-square-foot facility that broke...
2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit draws record attendance

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The SelectUSA Investment Summit boasted record attendance this year, welcoming nearly 3,000 participants from 70 foreign markets and the United States. This was the second year Great River Energy participated in the summit, which is billed as the highest-profile event dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. The theme of the 2017 Select USA Investment Summit – “Grow with US” – was designed to highlight the innovative business climate in the United States and was intended to feature investment opportunities from every corner of the country. The Honorable Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce...
A region-by-region look at Minnesota's economy

Thursday, August 03, 2017

In a recent story about Utah’s economy, the New York Times concluded that the biggest economic concern in the state is no longer a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers. Businesses all over the state are struggling to expand because of a labor shortage. The newspaper easily could have been writing about Minnesota. The state’s tight labor market is a common theme in the six regional stories in the latest issue of Trends magazine. Job vacancies are at or near record highs in every area of Minnesota. The Twin Cities, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the jobs in...
Minnesota ranked 3rd on Top States for Business list

Thursday, July 13, 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

Tuesday, June 13, 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...
Broadband project grants will expand high-speed service to rural areas

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A round of grants announced at the start of the year by the state and Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will help provide reliable, affordable high-speed internet to currently unserved or underserved rural areas of Minnesota, including in Great River Energy’s service territory. The additional $34 million in funding will leverage another $40 million in private and local funding to help level the playing field for thousands of Greater Minnesota households and businesses. “This expansion of broadband will expand education, health and job opportunities for thousands of Minnesotans. It’s not fair when almost 20 percent of Greater Minnesota households don’t...
Great River Energy, member co-op seek financing for Park Rapids senior living facility

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

With a new assisted living/memory care facility set to break ground in its community this summer, Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Electrical Association – one of Great River Energy’s 28 member cooperatives – is working toward securing funds for it. The 88-unit development will include a town center as the central focus of the building along with an activity/multi-purpose room, salon, bistro, card/club room, dining room, lobby, outdoor terrace, resident storage, spa, fitness room and underground parking, according to the Park Rapids Enterprise. Construction on the approximately 138,000-square-foot building will begin this summer, with a grand opening planned for July 2018. As a community partner, Itasca-Mantrap...
Your local electric cooperative: A partner in economic development

Wednesday, April 26, 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

Thursday, February 16, 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...
McLeod Co-op Power moving forward on new site

Friday, August 24, 2018

The McLeod Cooperative Power Board of Directors is moving forward to bring together its facilities onto one site at the Glencoe East Industrial Park. After about a year of negotiations with the city of Glencoe for an approximate 10-acre site, the co-op has the parcel it needs to remedy a too-small garage for today’s large bucket trucks; gain efficiencies by co-locating the pole yard, garage, and offices on one site; provide better access for customers; and serve power to itself through construction of a new facility. The parcel purchase is pending upon final approval of the purchase terms by both parties. “The...
NU-Telecom: 2 grants will help expand broadband

Tuesday, January 09, 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...