We are counting the days till end of session on May 17. The Pioneer Press published an interesting article yesterday on the political forces shaping the end of this year’s session. Dave Orrick wrote about the “politics of polarization”: “pragmatism has been increasingly hard to come by in recent years, as politics have gone tribal – to a fault.” My thoughts on this align with Orrick and reflect observations at all levels of government. Not new, to be sure, but growing more pervasive.
I don’t understand idealogues with their own agendas, advancing wildly disparate priorities, often abandoning the need to pull together on issues of highest priorities to constituents. The Legislature needs to agree on a $50 billion budget, give or take a billion – or risk shut-down as of July 1. Not sure that will happen. Tax conformity? Standardized ID? Transit funding? ARP funds utilization? Even less sure.
At local levels, elected officials and committees alike, operating as activists, with independent – and sometimes deeply personal - agendas. It’s almost like our political leaders are saying, “since the other side/the state/somebody else” can’t seem to get anything done, I will use my position to leverage my agenda. I just don’t get it.
The challenge with idealogues, true believers, is that pragmatism doesn’t work. No matter the topic. The “art of the possible” becomes highly improbable. And no one wins, least of all us, the residents and businesses.
So that’s my edgy thought for the day. I don’t want to stir things up, or maybe I do. Maybe I’m part of the problem, with lots of opinions of my own with no clear path to a solution. I just know this: as we gear up for “back to the office,” as we invest in the highest priorities of equitable recovery, getting people back to work, public safety, criminal justice reform, housing, the unsheltered, we simply do not have the luxury of being divided. Or distracted.
See you in the trenches.
The Governor was upbeat at his Thursday press conference, announcing the three phases for ending COVID restrictions . He is anticipating “a summer with the simple pleasures returning.”
As of Sunday, Minnesota’s death toll is up to 7,231. Of the 587,762 who contracted COVID, 96.7% have fully recovered.
We are ahead of schedule with vaccinations, and now are offering walk-in options: Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine information hub.
Cases have hit a 7-month low, and down an 7% from last week. Our progress most certainly is not being seen everywhere. India, most specifically, is suffering, having reached 20 million cases as of last week. And they are in tragic crisis.
The Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program is active. If you have not submitted an application yet, please do so TODAY. SBA’s grant site has the application information, and the National Restaurant Association has produced a step-by-step guide to filling out the application, as well as a FAQ document.
The SBA is launching a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advances: Targeted EIDL Advance. Requirements and eligibility are rather specific, so be sure to visit SBA.gov/eidl, or call the SBA at 800-659-2955.
The Minneapolis Fed has released a recap of their latest survey. Thanks to Ron Wirtz, Regional Outreach Director, for his work on this. Next quarterly survey is scheduled for late July.
Four top-level issues will define the final two weeks of session:
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
Saint Paul’s employers are investing seriously in a plan to welcome people – everyone – back downtown. Last week the Downtown Alliance announced its Welcome Back campaign, with plans for 300 events through the Fall to welcome back employees and visitors.
The St. Paul Saints home opener is tomorrow night! Seating is opening up, so join us as we welcome our team “home”!
There’s a lot of dialogue – and articles written – right now about just how we will return to the office. It is an employee’s market right now, and employers will need to be really creative as we ramp back up to the office. Folks have gotten awfully comfortable working from home, and we’ve been able to maintain levels of productivity – despite fears to the contrary. We’ve also discovered some unexpected upsides – if we can continue with flexible/hybrid work environments, we can increase retention and hire people from anywhere – opens things right up. A recent McKinsey & Company survey tells us a couple of things
Want to increase your company’s supplier diversity? Start with these tips:
And take a page from these companies:
How are you building capacity in your teams as you make plans to return to the workplace? At the Chamber, we're talking about this every day and making plans to continue to offer some of our events and meetings online, some in a hybrid model, and, of course some highly anticipated back to in-person events.
We know that keeping some of the forced elements that living through a pandemic introduced us to have actually allowed us to build our own capacity as well as that within our teams. One takeaway...my team seems completely content to keep attending 7:30 am meetings from home. I've noticed even my board meeting attendance has been exceptional at that time as well. Perhaps early morning meetings where we have to shower, travel, and arrive at a public meeting location will seem less attractive for everyone.
Never again should you wonder if your civic engagement counts. The 2020 census found Minnesota had 5,709,752 residents as of April 1, 2020. That put us a mere 89 people, or 0.0016 percent of its population, ahead of New York state for the 435th and final seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. READ MORE. Those 89 people made the difference. Actually, you ALL did.
Here is a link to the Census’ Press Toolkit 2020 Census Apportionment Counts Press Kit, which contains a YouTube video of the press conference as well as additional links to data from the Census. The press conference actually starts at 29:54 minute mark and the detail on Minnesota securing the seat by those 89 people starts at the 55:05 minute mark. This toolkit also contains good explanation of apportionment and links to the data released on Wednesday.
Finally, here is a link to a YouTube video from the census explaining apportionment. 2020 Census: What is Apportionment?
On a national level, the U.S. population grew by only 7.4 percent over the past decade, the smallest increase since the 1930s, the Census Bureau reported last week. The biggest cause of the population slowdown is the declining birthrate. Today, the average American adult of child-rearing age has 17 percent fewer children than in 1990 — and about 50 percent fewer than in 1960. The U.S. still has a higher fertility rate than Japan and Germany, but it is in the same range as Britain and Sweden and below France and Ireland. There are now more Americans 80 and older than 2 or younger. The second factor behind the slow population growth is a decline in legal immigration.
As I see it, Minnesota’s continued economic growth requires a pro-immigration approach to workforce development. What do you think?
Stay engaged – you do count! Read my six (normally seven) things to know this week below.
See you in the trenches.
Would you like to request a mobile vaccine unit to come to your place of business? MDH Mobile Vaccine Clinic Registration Form to request a mobile vaccine unit. Read more about the Met Council’s story of creating these mobile clinics.
I enjoy following Blois Olson’s Morning Consult. Last week he indicated that “Gov. Tim Walz says he’ll announce a “Turning of the Dials” soon, it will likely be this week. The announcement will include date certain in the next month that the state is open. If California has an opening date, and New York has an opening date then Walz recognizes he needs to set the date. For months, Memorial Day seemed like a smart guess for a strong timing to open, however we’ve learned over the past year that the details of the Walz announcement are where challenges emerge. Therefore, opening up shouldn’t require many granular specifics. As of yesterday, nearly half of Minnesotans had their first vaccine dose and availability of vaccines are open and accessible for nearly anyone that wants them.” We continue to track this and get additional confirmation, but this is an interesting “heads up.”
Olson also is “tracking the return to normal.” Find out who’s ready to be dining out again, and how here.
Applications for the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund opened May 3rd, with a 21-day priority window for small businesses owned by women, veterans, or socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The SBA will accept applications from all eligible applicants, but only process and fund the priority group applications until day 21 of the process. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.
Register in the application portal - SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund. You only need an email address and U.S. phone number to get registered. Visit the Restaurant Revitalization Fund website at Restaurant Revitalization Fund (sba.gov).
The Minnesota Chamber has published its Minnesota 2030 report, a framework for economic growth moving forward, including three strategies with actionable recommendations and growth acceleration opportunities that would strengthen Minnesota’s economy.
With two weeks left of the 2021 Legislative Session, focus now is on conference committee work to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of omnibus budget bills.
A top priority for businesses: PPP tax loan conformity has not yet been resolved. Under current Minnesota law, your PPP loan will be taxed as income at 9%. There is still time for you to contact your State Senator or State Representative and urge them to support federal tax conformity for forgiven PPP loans.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Updates.
Your Minnesota Wild has clinched a spot in the playoffs!
The St. Paul Saints are commemorating their historic 1st season as the Twins Triple-A Affiliate with a fresh new look. The 4 uniforms — Home White, Road Gray, Alternate Blue, and Powder Blue — each integrate three colors honoring a 28-year relationship with the city of Saint Paul that dates back to the current organization’s inception in 1993: yellow, blue, and red. While staying true to their heritage, the Saints also pay homage to the new partnership with the Minnesota Twins. The 2021 Season uniforms all feature an interlocking “TC” logo on the right sleeve to signify the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.
With labor shortages intensifying in metro areas and small towns around the nation, businesses can’t afford to be reactive. Read for 4 tips/suggestions to help attract and retain talent in this tight market.
USA Curling Headquarters is coming to Minnesota! Officials with the national governing body of the Olympic sport of curling announced Friday it will move its headquarters from Stevens Point, Wis., to Minnesota. The new home of USA Curling will be located at the Viking Lakes campus in Eagan. Read more.