Yes, this past weekend, St. Paul celebrated Suni Lee’s triumphant return! She arrived at the airport Thursday to more than 200 fans, and I’m ballparking that Sunday’s parade saw more than 5,000 people?! “Team Sunisa” t-shirts in blue, American flags, veterans in uniform, lots of kids… Goodness, Suni Lee’s family, all decked out in bright yellow t-shirts, alone counted more than 25 people (I had thought they were the volunteer committee!). Suni’s father offered thanks for “three great countries of his life”: Laos, Thailand, and the U.S, “the land of opportunity – which gave birth to my daughter Sunisa and the opportunity for her to reach her goal and become the first Hmong American all-around world champion.”
As the first Hmong American Olympic Gold Medalist, Suni Lee’s historic achievement has inspired community members in her hometown, across our state, nation, and around the world. As home to one of the largest Hmong American communities in the country (did you know that Minnesota is home to more refugees than any other state in the U.S.?), Sunday’s parade and celebration were truly international. Watch a clip of the event here on Youtube.
And we have more celebrations! The US Women’s BBall team HAS DONE IT AGAIN! For the 7th time, the U.S. Women’s Basketball Team won a Gold Medal this past weekend – their 55th straight Olympic basketball victory. Coach Staley, a former Olympian herself, is stepping down after this season. Meanwhile, Gable Steveson, Apple Valley, won the Gold in wrestling, freestyle division, on Friday. Context makes this achievement even more incredible: he was unseeded, and he defeated the 3-time defending world champion from Georgia. His goal is to follow the path of “The Rock.” Steveson returned home on Sunday, greeted by a welcoming crowd! Watch his bout here on Youtube; was so impressive – as was his celebratory backflip!
See you in the trenches.
For the first time since February, the U.S. is averaging more than 100,000 new cases/day. In Minnesota, 1012 new cases were recorded on Friday (though trend lines still don’t look as bad as the mid-April wave). The Delta variant represents more than 80% of new cases here. Both caseload and hospital needs continue to edge up as the summer swing continues. Indeed, infections and hospitalizations are increasing rapidly as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.
At the same time, vaccination rates have been slowly rising since the middle of July, and 58 percent of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. In Minnesota, 54.2% of our population has been fully vaccinated (69.4% of those 16+ with at least 1 dose). Here’s how Delta is changing advice for the vaccinated. And what to do when employees refuse vaccination?
Vaccine approval: The Food and Drug Administration is reportedly working to complete the approval process for the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE by early next month. How much of an impact will a fully approved vaccine have on hesitancy to get the shot? Polling conducted this summer indicates a lack of full FDA approval has kept some of the country's vaccine holdouts from seeking the shot, but while we can expect full approval to move some folks off the fence, it's an open question as to how many.
Are you wearing a mask again? Experts back masks against variant threat. Though no one is thrilled!
And it sounds like the U.S. plans to require COVID vaccine for foreign travelers.
In response to the Delta variant spike, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Travelers and others, are delaying their return-to-office plans.
The Delta variant is driving off hope for speedy return to normal, and adding uncertainty to the longer-term outlook. Read this August U.S. Economic Outlook report which takes a look at the effect of heightened economic uncertainty, the start-and-stop recovery, and the future of economic growth.
EDA is hosting a series of webinars in August about the newly announced EDA funding opportunities through the American Rescue Plan. The application process is now open. Deadlines vary based on program. Good Jobs Challenge Webinar: Thursday, August 12 – 2 p.m. EDT.
Infrastructure endgame: The Senate met again on Sunday after voting 67-27 on Saturday to advance its bipartisan infrastructure bill, setting up final passage. Anticipate a potential Monday or Tuesday vote on final passage.
Redistricting: The Census Bureau on Thursday will release its 2020 census data, which state legislatures use to redraw voting districts. The apportionment data is arriving roughly four months later than originally scheduled thanks to pandemic-induced census issues, and marks the beginning of a long and arduous process of mapmaking and litigation.
Minnesota: The new “Eviction Off Ramp” bill went into effect June 30. It ends the Executive Order that paused eviction actions and lease terminations at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. See here for frequently asked questions for both landlords and renters.
Read more updates in our weekly Chamber Advocacy Update.
What’s going on with your Chamber?
Our next session in this year’s Equity Leadership Series. Together we are improving workplace culture. Being Ready for Today’s Employees: Creating a Sense of Belonging. Join our virtual event on August 18!
And for our Young Professionals: the time is right to get together. Our annual Boat Cruise is back on for August 18. Enjoy an evening on the water and connect with other Twin Cities young professionals. I’ll be there too!
A new world of work is here. Though we continue to learn that we can’t always know what tomorrow will bring, today’s work environment definitely is dynamic. What makes up this “dynamic” ecosystem? Even the Harvard Business Review” is writing about breaking free from a “9 to 5” Culture (and a bonus: the article quotes research done at the
U of M!).
This past Friday, August 6, the SEC approved Nasdaq’s proposal to boost diversity on corporate boards. The first-of-its-kind proposal would require companies listed on the Nasdaq to meet certain minimum targets for gender and racial diversity on the boards. This is big news. Read here for more.
Best Buy will invest up to $10M with Brown Venture Group, the Twin Cities venture capital firm that exclusively funds Black, Latino, and Native American-owned technology start-ups. The goal? To “break down the systemic barriers often faced by Black, Indigenous and People of Color entrepreneurs – including access to funding.”
Within our region, Metro Transit has announced a new transit pass program. Apartment and condo owners now can offer a reduced rate Resident Pass program to their list of amenities.
Some big moves in the business community: Zeus Electric Chassis, Inc., operating in White Bear Lake, is unveiling its all-electric work trucks; Medtronic just announced the purchase of Intersect ENT, Inc., for $936.3M; Ecolab will now partner with medical device makers on sterilization solutions with its new Eagan design center; and in Woodbury, Ryan Cos is planning a 500K SF distribution facility for an “unnamed user.”
Wondering what’s going on with all the construction in downtown St. Paul? We are in the midst of Phase III of the Downtown Paving and Sidewalk Improvement Project. Check this website for details on when and where the work is underway.