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
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.