An Anniversary and Reflection
Now is a moment of pause. Of reflection.
One year ago George Floyd was killed. And he was not the last Black man killed in police custody since then. The legacy of his death and the national reckoning that has followed has been, at the risk of overusing this word, unprecedented. I know I’m not alone in reflecting long on this...Floyd’s death ignited a week of civil unrest and a nationwide examination of the many issues around racial injustice and law enforcement that continues today. On Sunday, Floyd’s family led a march in Minneapolis. Other events include a virtual “day of action,” and a candlelight vigil on Tuesday.
Sweet Potato Comfort Pie is sharing the week’s events dedicated to healing.
This time is being marked as an “inflection point,” a “watershed moment.” I wonder, though, will the momentum last? Do we have the internal fortitude for real change? In a recent MSPBJ interview, US Bank’s Chief Diversity Officer, Greg Cunningham, expressed the wonderings I’ve heard from others: “My biggest concern is that we won’t have the stamina required to do the work. Far too often, we move on to the issues of the day and we lose momentum and we lose stamina. I think it’s really important that we recognize that this moment is different.”
Each of us, I think, must face our own reckoning. My thinking, my choices, my commitments, my own unacknowledged resistance… I reflect on the history of injustice experienced within non-white communities; I think of my dear friends, the good cops who are devoted to serving the community in the face of ongoing public safety perceptions and issues; I reflect on my own situation and the agency I have – my voice – to help maintain focus, momentum, stamina towards change. And I return to the power of one – change happens one moment, one conversation, one acknowledgement, one policy at a time. On that I can focus.
What are WE doing? How is your Chamber using its agency to advance change?
I encourage all of us to maintain the momentum, to stay focused on change that will benefit all of us. There is a spark of hope for real change; may we flame it into something truly transformational within us and across our community.
See you in the trenches.
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, a majority of respondents to the Minneapolis Fed’s quarterly general business survey reported optimism – though labor costs and supply chain disruptions remain challenges. Read more.
The MSPBJ provides info on what to do if you have been denied a PPP loan. Here's what to do next.
The unemployment rate dropped to 4.1% in April, as Minnesota added 11,000 jobs. Read more
The Legislature adjourned on May 17 without creating the state’s 2022-23 budget, without an agreement on how to allocate the $2.8 billion in federal funds, and without agreements on many other key policy items of interest.
From our perspective, the best thing about the budget deal / targets announcement last week was the inclusion of full tax conformity for forgiven PPP loans. Your Chamber team advocated hard for this provision. Regarding the potential bill’s impact on 2020 taxes, the Department of Revenue is trying to find a way to make those adjustments automatically -- IF the legislature passes the bills in a June special session as intended -- but if they cannot, impacted businesses will have to file an amended return.
Messerli Kramer was kind enough to share their 2021 Legislative Session Summary. In answer to the question “What’s next?”, they write:
With budget targets agreed to and announced, the real work will now start. Legislative leaders instructed conference committees (which will now act in work groups) to iron out all financial issues in their respective areas by May 28; they also instructed those same groups to finalize policy matters and final bill language by June 4. The budget agreement is clear that anything not resolved by subject area work groups will be decided by legislative leaders. The agreement framework does not contain any resolution to more controversial policy matters, leaving those decisions to work groups or, ultimately, in the hands of leadership.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update
This Thursday, our Business Learning Toolbox offers Best Practices for Hiring, Engaging, and Retaining Your Employees.
Twins have unveiled their $5 “Summer Fun” ticket deal!
Be sure to celebrate the artist in your child, by participating in the Ordway’s annual Flint Hills Family Festival, June 1-12! Would be lovely to see you: www.flinthillsfestival.ordway.or
10 Leadership Lessons from the last year: “Never waste a good crisis,” so said Winston Churchill towards the end of World War II. How can we learn and benefit from the year behind us, to emerge stronger on the other side? Brian Lassiter of Performance Excellence Network compiled an encouraging list of insights.
As our largest companies announce their return-to-office plans for late Summer/early Fall, we mustn’t forget the devastating impacts of this last year on our small businesses and restaurants. Please, as we recover, remember to keep our local companies in mind. Shopping local recirculates money back into our local economy, benefitting us all.
Consider 5 ways to help small businesses recover from the pandemic: READ MORE
Hunker Down and Wait it Out
I tend to be a “hunker down and wait it out” kind of person. Seemed especially apt this past weekend for two reasons.
First, when Governor Walz announced an end to the statewide mask mandate on Thursday, I felt like celebrating. Finally! But that elation pretty quickly faded as some cities and businesses kept their mask mandates in place. Having one rule for the whole state generally makes things easier, but one rule does not leave room for nuance and specific situations, such as density, differences in vaccination rates, and the desire to protect employees. (See more on that topic below.)
Still, I felt a little funny walking into Oakdale’s HyVee on Saturday. My mask was with me, but I looked around hopefully wondering, “is it really ok not to wear it?” (I kept it on). All the employees still were masked, as were 90% of the customers, signs were still up at the doors. I experienced the same in other stores I visited on my day’s errands, both in Saint Paul and Inver Grove Heights. I sighed, wore my mask throughout the day, mildly irritated but not slowed, and soldiered on...looking forward to a time when ALL of the mask requirements are dropped... whenever that will be. I’m just glad to know the large events for our teams and our communities can move forward, and that individuals have more choice now. I must say, welcome back, Saints, keep swinging Twins, and congratulations on Game 1, Wild (we’ll see you on Thursday)! Masks or not, great to be together.
For now, we hunker down. And wait.
Which brings me to the second reason for today’s theme: waiting on the Legislature – excuse me, 3 people – to determine the path forward on budget targets and bills being proposed. Again, we hunker down. And wait. ‘Nuff said.
See you in the trenches.
As of Friday, May 14: 49% of Minnesota’s population has received at least 1 vaccination. Nationally, we’ve reached over 100M vaccinated.
Vaccination rates: continue to decline every week, last week’s rate of 184K translates to an average of 26K doses/day.
On Friday, of course, the Governor shifted things dramatically with his removal of the statewide mask mandate for those fully vaccinated. Not all cities agree.
Our service industry (think restaurants, entertainment, hotels, leisure) wants to welcome you back! And if you’re a small business needing support, please be sure to take advantage of what the SBA is offering:
East metro Cities and Counties are getting federal money, but there are rules on how it can be spent. Know that your Chamber is working with our government partners to assist however we can. From housing to infrastructure to small business support and recovery, I continue to see herculean efforts from city and county leaders both to be smart – and collaborative – in their approaches.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
As I said above, this weekend I was “out and about.” That also included patio plans on Friday evening in Saint Paul and brunch plans on Saturday in White Bear Lake. People, the restaurants (and stores) are hopping! I hope you’re capitalizing on the beautiful weather we’ve been having to find your own patch of sun. Lots of restaurants are re-opening, and invite a friend. We’ve missed you.
Leadership is more important than ever now, as we return to the office in an environment that “isn’t as it was.” Leaders have a real opportunity to get creative right now. How can we hold onto the best of this last year as we bring people back together? At the Chamber we’re having some fun developing a flexible work environment moving forward. We’ve demonstrated that we can work remotely, so we’ll keep some of that as we move forward. I’ve heard from many of you that you are considering this as well.
Last week at one of our regular Business Education Series, the topic was: The Changing Workforce and Workplace. I know I’m “plugging” an event, but I can’t help it. This was a good one. The speakers talked about the need for leaders to adapt, think creatively, trust our people. If you’d like to watch the program, our partner Performance Excellence Network has graciously shared the link. Take the time to watch.
LISC Twin Cities has just announced a strong field of 12 developers of color, selected for its inaugural Twin Cities Developers of Color Capacity Building Initiative. This initiative will support developers of color who are working to build assets and ownership in historically low-income neighborhoods by providing financial and technical resources to complete their projects. This group of 12 brings projects that range from small to medium residential, commercial and mixed-use, to high-density residential development. The dual goal is to provide wraparound technical and professional network support to help get each participants’ project over the finish line and to build the long-term development capacity of the participants. The aspiration is to diversify the development field in the Twin Cities and to increase income and wealth in Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Read More.
All aboard to head down the Mississippi! Very exciting new development in Saint Paul: late last week we got the long-awaited confirmation that Viking River Cruises ARE coming to Saint Paul! A regularly scheduled,15-day river cruise from Saint Paul to New Orleans already is sold out for 2022. Dang, I wanted to be on that first cruise. You may remember that the City, Port Authority, and others have been working on that project for over 6 years. Very exciting, and such a great new opportunity. Read more about the Viking Mississippi River cruise out of downtown Saint Paul.
The Art of the Possible – Please!
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.