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:
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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.