This is an emotionally full week, with a roller coaster of ups and downs.
The ups: After a delay due to quarantine protocols, Governor Walz delivered his 3rd State of the State. Markedly different from his Address last year, when he told Minnesotans to begin “bracing for a storm of epic proportions.” On Sunday, he embraced a more optimistic tone, saying “brighter days are here and even more are coming… Normalcy is on the horizon.”
The downs: So many members of our community are on edge, with the start of the Chauvin trial, and the lingering effects of mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta last week.
The roller coaster has left me with mixed feelings. I am grateful for the Governor’s optimism. I know I am not alone in my strong desire to engage again. The sunshine and warmer weather are helping. That said, I imagine I also am not alone in wondering how these next weeks will roll out through the trial and in the aftermath of the Atlanta tragedy. Each of us can be a witness in opposition to violence. Please, if you witness or experience discrimination or bias, report it. Check your own implicit and explicit biases, and consider how your actions could impact others. We can invite truth, validate one another’s experiences, and try to create safety for all of us.
This is a great week to deliberately reach out to those close to you, to renew connections and remind yourself that we're all on this ride together.
Check out my 7 things you should know below. See you in the trenches.
Governor Walz has opened up vaccine eligibility to Minnesotans age 16 and older, as of March 30. This is great news and comes several months ahead of original expectations. "How to get your vaccine" recommendations from the State:
The Governor, the Senate majority and the House majority all have released their budget proposals. Now the work starts to align the different proposals into one package. The legislature is on Easter/Passover break this week, they will be busy upon their return to meet the third deadline on Friday, April 9. The 2021 regular legislative session is required to adjourn Monday, May 17.
Read more in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
The SBA will launch a new program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Grant Program, in the next thirty days. As part of the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the SBA program will provide $28.6 billion in grant funding to qualified businesses in the hospitality industry. Check the SBA portal often for program updates. Types of businesses explicitly stated in the ARPA that are eligible to apply include, “restaurant, food stand, food truck, food cart, caterer, saloon, inn, tavern, bar, lounge, brewpub, tasting room, taproom, licensed facility or premise of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products.”
4. Cultivating Relationships
Our friends at the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance last week summarized how important are the relationships that bind us. With more billions of federal money coming to the state, and much work to do in the recovery ahead, partners from across the spectrum – corporate, philanthropic, public – are leaning in and working together.
“Partners like Securian Financial, who increased their community investments by 25% last year, are helping us lead the charge to welcome workers back in the coming months. Partners like the Knight Foundation, who have not only supported the Downtown Alliance year over year, but are investing in citywide efforts to reimagine and improve public safety and address racial disparities to help us not just come back, but come back better than ever. Partners like Visit Saint Paul and the City of Saint Paul Planning and Economic Development department are hyper-focused on supporting our local restaurants and promoting our incredible food scene. If you haven't seen that video, be sure to give it a watch.”
5. Driving Progress
The journey to eliminating racism is a road with many potholes, and we all need to do the work to really get there, especially with peers who might not be as far along. This author is a Black woman who often is mistaken for being White. She shares her experience here.
6. Growing Leaders
A recent report from Brookings is worth your time. It outlines a simple three-step framework for how CEOs can move from commitment to action to make meaningful progress toward a more equitable economy.
7. Building Capacity
“The Great Awakening,” a new report from The Harris Poll examines American sentiment regarding returning to offices, events and travel; DEI; a pending spending boom; interest in hybrid services; and public expectation that the business community will deliver solutions during crises like the pandemic. This last point parallels what chambers have done for months – stepping in to provide assistance when public trust in the government to do so has waned.
Atlanta. As it was for the rest of the country. On Tuesday, March 16, a series of shootings took place in three Atlanta-area spas resulting in the deaths of eight people, several of whom were of Asian descent. Six of them women. Data points aside, my heart is aching – and my head is reeling. We both stand together with our Asian American friends to condemn this violence and find ourselves on our knees in shared grief.
This was not random; the perpetrator was on his way to Florida for more of the same when he was arrested. Indeed, hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been growing. Stop AAPI Hate was formed in March of 2020 to prevent discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a report released on Tuesday, the group said it had received reports of 3,795 incidents between March 19, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021. But it said the number could be higher because not all incidents are reported.
We all are invited to join the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) on Wednesday, March 24, from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM CDT for Unheard Stories: Asian Americans Experiencing Hate, a public community event to hear from leaders and community members about what has been occurring in Minnesota and nationwide, hear from victims of hate, and work together with us to take action against violence and hate. Speakers will include U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, MDHR Commissioner Rebecca Lucero, CAAL Executive & Network Director Bo Thao-Urabe, and others.
See you in the trenches.
On Friday, the NY Times wrote an interesting piece about the vaccine roll-out in the U.S./Britain compared to the European Union. The U.S. actually may avoid the “third wave” that Europe is facing now. A few countries are back on lock-down as a result. No single culprit. Instead, a series of small decisions have led to only about 10% of Europeans receiving their first vaccine dose thus far (compared to 23% in the U.S., and 39% in Britain).
At the Legislature: second policy committee deadline was Friday, March 19. Bills with finance and tax implications have a deadline for passage through relevant committees by Friday, April 9. Given that Easter/Passover break is March 26 – April 5, the Legislature doesn’t have much time left. Budget deliberations will intensify: the House DFL is expected to release its budget targets/priorities this week. The Senate Republican budget plan released last week likely will fall far short of the House DFL’s and Governor’s budget plans, including a proposed hold on all tax increases. Also included is the exemption of federal PPP loans from state taxes (an issue not universally agreed upon – which I find unfathomable).
Tax Day: IRS and US Treasury extended filing and payment deadline for individuals to May 17, 2021. See details here. Read the full press release here.
4. Cultivating Relationships
MNSCU Board of Trustees last Wednesday announced the appointment of two new presidents: Dr. Edward Inch will serve as the president of Minnesota State University, Mankato, beginning July 1. Dr. Deidra Peaslee will become the next president of Saint Paul College, effective immediately. Dr. Peaslee has served as interim at SPC since 2019.
5. Driving Progress
Two development projects in Saint Paul of immediate interest:
Lexington Station housing project and the Rondo Bridge. The Chamber is bullish on both, with a vision of encouraging development that invites bigger thinking of what is possible for us moving forward.
The Lexington Station project appeal was presented to the City Council on March 17. Was laid over till April 7. Channon Lemon and I co-authored an op-ed last week on the project: “Approve this project but improve the process”
And we continue to enthusiastically support the Rondo Land Bridge (you can find a review of the project here
6. Growing Leaders
I read a fascinating article this past week, on “the enemies of inclusion.” Are they certain people? No, they’re actually found within our own mistaken understanding> Inclusion requires that, sometimes – often in fact, we don’t get to universal consensus.
The Enemies of Inclusion: Cancelling, Consensus, and Perfection https://www.tlnt.com/the-enemies-of-inclusion-cancelling-consensus-and-perfection/.
7. Building Capacity
Today, I’m talking – literally – about capacity!