Twin Cities Startup Week is here! Ahead of us is a week-long celebration of Minnesota’s strong and growing startup ecosystem. Right now, in Minnesota, innovative entrepreneurs are tackling the problems that are going to redefine the future of the global economy. And any business that starts here has a better chance of surviving than in any other state.
So what’s happening this week? Events will be a mix of in-person, hybrid, and virtual; COVID-19 protocols are in place, for just under 200 events this year. The majority will be recorded as well, creating a resource library that people can access later. The week winds up on Friday, with the 2021 Minnesota Startup Awards at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The event honors Minnesota makers, inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
Explore the full TCSW 2021 schedule and register to create your itinerary!
Also, for the entrepreneurs among us: DEED’s Launch Minnesota Program offers Innovation Grants to offset business operations expenses for startups creating novel solutions. Here is a checklist to see if your business is eligible and the link to the new Innovation Grants application portal.
And one final question: have you donated blood lately? As you probably know, there is a critical need for blood donations right now. I just nabbed an appointment at the next drive, sponsored by the St. Paul Saints and Regions Hospital: Wednesday, September 29 and Thursday, September 30, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Sign up for an appointment here!
See you in the trenches.
Minnesota is in its 4th surge of the COVID-19 pandemic and health experts say this wave of cases and infections is different. And doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. The difference? The “surge” is a slow crawl rather than a spike, and younger people with breakthrough infections have mild or no symptoms. That said: in Minnesota we have seen 18,790 breakthrough cases, 1095 hospitalization and 108 deaths of fully vaccinated people (almost exclusively among elderly people with other health concerns). What else do you need to know?
Who needs a booster and when/where can you get one? An advisory committee of the C.D.C. is scheduled to meet on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss booster shots before it issues recommendations on who exactly should receive them. There is no clear timeline for when booster shots for the other two vaccines approved in the U.S., Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, may be considered.
President Biden’s COVID-19 Action Plan: Read here. Vaccine mandate probably will increase vaccination rates – as long as it is found to be legal. To keep this on context: America shortly will exceed the number of fatalities resulting from the 1918 influenza pandemic (675,000). How are Minnesota employers responding so far?
One more thing: I’d like to remind you again of the free Docket app – provides a secure digital option to view and keep track of your immunizations. I downloaded it last week and now can access my vaccination record on the spot!
In case you missed it: As Minnesota’s economic recovery zig-zags, Governor Walz taps a council to drive growth. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari is among 15 business and nonprofit leaders to form a Council on Economic Expansion to address the labor shortage in Minnesota and ensure that the state's economic recovery is fair.
Minnesota: August Jobs Report: Job growth continues, though slower than the banner month in July. No surprise to anyone, we are experiencing a very tight labor market:
St. Paul program aims to connect struggling restaurants with innovators to aid in recovery: This is Full Stack Saint Paul at work! Through the Restaurant Resiliency Program, more than 50 small and struggling restaurants were paired with tech-savvy consultants to improve everything from marketing and online ordering to website design and networking with other restaurants. Read more.
Saint Paul’s Mayor Carter on Wednesday announced new initiatives in support of immigrants. Read more. Included among its 17 partners are the St. Paul Area Chamber who teamed up with the city to win a competitive grant from the Gateways For Growth challenge, now funding a 10-month research study detailing the economic impact of immigrants.
Saint Paul’s City Council approves maximum property tax levy – for now. St. Paul could raise its property tax levy by up to 6.9% next year, though City Council members said they'd like to reduce that figure as they finalize the city's 2022 budget in the coming months. Read more.
The Metropolitan Council and the Transportation Advisory Board: public comment period is now open on the Regional Solicitation and Highway Safety Improvement Program applications, which the board released for public comment on Sept. 16. The Regional Solicitation is a competitive grant process that the Transportation Advisory Board and Met Council use to prioritize and invest federal transportation funds in roads, bridges and transit, and biking and walking needs. Whether for existing infrastructure or new improvements, projects focus on outcomes like reducing crashes, expanding access to all travel modes, and improving air quality. Comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 18. Click here to submit your comments.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
Calling all women: I’d like to meet you – as would our other women friends in NAWBO and the St. Paul Area Chamber. Together we are hosting a Women’s Speed Networking event on Wed, 9/29, 8-9:30am, at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Weather permitting, we’ll be outside on the patio – and it is the perfect opportunity to make a new connection! Register here – I look forward to seeing you!
Find these and more on our Events Calendar!
This week I read a fascinating Business Forum by Fairview Health Services President and CEO James Hereford and Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow: leading locally is key to community recovery out of the pandemic. They challenge us to “embrace the role of being an anchor institution in our community.” While focused on their specific missions through the pandemic, they “have also continued to embrace our responsibilities as anchor institutions that our communities rely on.” I’ve seen so much of this mindset in the words and deeds of leaders over the last 18 months, and really appreciate them putting this perspective to paper.
The City of Saint Paul is in the process of developing a Supplier Diversity Program. They want your input and are holding community listening engagement sessions on the dates below for business owners, as well as business associations and chambers of commerce to share input and ideas. Visit their engagement landing page and pick a session meant for your sector. Your input matters!
St. Paul City Council says ‘yes’ again to the 5-story redevelopment of Dixies on Grand. This approval effectively opens the door to a major commercial-residential redevelopment led by restaurateur Peter Kenefick and west metro developer Reuter Walton.
It’s no surprise we need more housing. The Twin Cities now ranks as having the worst housing shortage in the nation. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis ranks housing affordability as one of the region’s top five concerns. Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist for Freddie Mac: "This is a very sticky issue," Kiefer said. "Building is picking up and over time it will help. But it's a grind, and it will take some time before we'll start to solve the problem." According to a new report from the Metropolitan Council, housing production isn’t keeping up with demand, though – based on recent permit activity – 2021 “should be a banner year for permitted single-family and multifamily units,” according to Joel Nyhus, Met Council researcher.
Saturday marked 20 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed 2,977 people in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in a field outside of Shanksville, PA. In Manhattan, a memorial ceremony was held for those who died on September 11, 2001. Many more have died since, as a result of their work at ground zero. At a Saturday night concert in Hastings, Rivertown Live, our own Ben Utecht sang the National Anthem to honor them all, including the first responders who risked their lives. Both were a powerful reminder. I don’t know about you, but the tears still come. I reflect on the losses, how badly we were shaken as a nation. And I think of the 20 years since, wondering just exactly what we got right in terms of outcomes. One of the former senior Bush administration officials, retired Admiral James Stavridis, has said, “They get some things right, they get some things wrong. The measure of any nation is whether it learns both from the mistakes and the successes.” Ultimately, this truth is even more true today: the promise of America is ours to uphold and defend. And yet, when I talk to people across all walks of life, my concern is that we are more divided, more afraid than ever. Today, to some degree, we are a nation at war with ourselves. Perhaps we’d be in the same mess had the attacks of 9/11 not taken place…. But not likely.
Today I simply want to pause for a moment, solemnly acknowledge and grieve with you. Two thoughts:
See you in the trenches.
COVID vaccines: how fast is progress around the world?
As of this past Thursday, more than 3.1M Minnesotans – or 56.7% of the state – are fully vaccinated. Vaccine Update page here.
Small signs the summer COVID wave may be ebbing.
On Friday, President Biden announced his intent to sign two new Executive Orders on vaccinations. One will apply to large businesses (100+ employees) and the other will apply to all employees of the executive branch and contractors doing business with the federal government. OSHA is drafting language now. Click here for details on the plan and what you need to know. And who will foot the bill?
Although an effective date has not been announced, a 75-day deadline is proposed to allow sufficient time for those impacted to take action.
The expansive rules will affect about 80 million Americans and have broad implications for Minnesota. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, there are more than 4,800 businesses and 1.4 million employees that could be impacted by this. Though it looks as though the government has the legal authority to do this, it’s likely the President’s mandate will be challenged in court.
More to come; we will continue to monitor and communicate.
Small Business Week is here! Minnesota’s SBA District Office is hosting a virtual panel discussion on “Small Business Resiliency and Pivots.” Register here.
Latest Gallup poll: U.S. Workers’ job worries easing; still above 2019 level.
Saint Paul has a rent control ballot initiative ahead for November. If approved, would be among the strictest in the world. You’ll be hearing more from us with more information very soon.
Ramsey County attorney says he won't prosecute cases arising from low-level traffic stops: Ramsey County Attorney John Choi on Wednesday announced that his office will no longer prosecute most felony cases arising from low-level traffic stops, an effort aimed at reducing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Your Chamber is drafting our 2022 areas of focus and legislative priorities. Please provide your input and Take our policy survey or Join us on a Zoom! Come share your thoughts on Thursday, September 169:00-10:00AM or Monday, September 20 noon-1:00PM.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
Starting this Thursday and running through Saturday, Twin Cities Jazz Fest is back – for its 20th year! Check out the full calendar here.
Big news: Penny Wheeler is retiring as Allina Health’s CEO; Lisa Shannon named successor.
What’s ahead for your Chamber?
Sep 15 is the next event of our Equity Leadership Series: Leading Leaders – Success Stories from Peer Employers.
Sep 23 is our annual Leaders in Government Awards. Hybrid event, join us to recognize public servants!
Sep 28 is our annual Minnesota Wild Kickoff Event. Watch a team practice, join us (hybrid) for lunch to hear from coach and players!
And 2022 Leadership St. Paul Applications are now open! To register, please contact us here.
Find these and more on our Events Calendar!
Get introduced to ConnextMSP, a new initiative through GreaterMSP, at the launch virtual event on Tuesday, September 14. Their goal is to bring together employers, college and career readiness programs, community leaders, and higher education partners to create more equitable pathways to careers for young professionals of color.
Please join us to socialize at the first Gaingels Minnesota event! Come learn about Gaingels' diversity based mission, and get to know Gaingels members and portfolio companies in a fun and relaxed setting on September 13th. Gaingels is the most prominent and successful national angel investment group focused on LGBTQ led companies and their allies.
With over $240,000,000 deployed into a portfolio of over 500 companies since 2018, Gaingels is also the co-founder of Mathison.io and provides a diverse board member/observer recruitment advisory for our portfolio companies. Gaingels invests in companies with or without LGBT founders/C-suite leaders as early as venture-backed seed, so long as the company is interested in adding C-suite and board diverse leadership and sees value in Gaingels' talent network and representing and including the LGBT community on their cap table. Gaingels' 1300+ strong investor network also includes 350+ women, and 300+ BIPOC members, and we seek to position our network as a talent pool for our portfolio companies on all axes of diversity. Gaingels is a founding co-signer of the Diversity Term Sheet Rider Initiative to increase access to venture funding events for non-traditional check writers, and regularly co-invests with select VC leads across a variety of sectors, from technology, to B2B, healthcare and consumer, in competitive and over-subscribed rounds from Seed to Growth/pre-IPO, with check sizes $100,000 - $10,000,000.
Their featured non-profit startup is Lunar Startups (in Saint Paul!); Lunar Startups specializes in growth, connection, and innovation for Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, women, and non-binary entrepreneurs.
Drinks and nibbles will be served from 5:00pm to 8:00pm. Thank you to Osborn370 for hosting us in the lovely city of Saint Paul :). All are welcome!
City announces firm that will design St. Paul river balcony: The City of Saint Paul and the Great River Passage Conservancy announced last week that James Corner Field Operations will draft plans for a proposed 1.5-mile promenade on the river bluffs of downtown Saint Paul. Corner is the New York-based urban design firm that transformed an elevated railroad into New York's popular High Line park.
A new study from the Metropolitan Council shows that land consumption in the seven-country Twin Cities area is growing for the first time in more than 15 years, even as development is becoming more compact.
Last week we held our annual economic development update. Updates on Highland Bridge, RiversEdge, Hillcrest, and other projects in Saint Paul and across the East metro (many of which I share on my blog because development is up). In the midst of so much uncertainty about housing, commercial leases, what we do know is this: construction continues across multiple sectors. And in Saint Paul: City of Saint Paul is issuing permits at a strong pace. $31.4M worth of commercial-industrial permits in July alone. This number is down from this time last year, but year-to-date is 13% ahead of last year.