I’ve been in several conversations these past few weeks with business leaders considering return to office plans and how/if to address COVID-19 vaccination requirements among your team members. In both cases, you want to know what others are doing – to get some guidance, a sense of what “norming” looks like right now.
If you would, please respond to our 2-minute survey about these 2 questions. We’ll run the survey this week, and share the results with you next week.
Thanks for taking the time!
Pause for a quiet little “yippee!” Mikko Koivu spent 15 seasons with our Minnesota Wild. We all sighed regretfully when he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets ahead of the 2020-21 season. He retired in February and has chosen Minnesota to settle down with his family. Welcome home, Mikko!
See you in the trenches.
Vaccines: Minnesota hits our vaccine milestone: 70% of our residents 16 and older have at least one dose. One month behind Governor Walz’s timeline goal. And on August 11, Governor Walz introduced a vaccine requirement – or weekly negative COVID-19 tests - for state employees. Ramsey County is employing a similar requirement.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was hopeful the Food and Drug Administration would give full approval to the coronavirus vaccines, which are being administered under an emergency use authorization, by the end of the month.
Fauci predicted the move would precede a wave of vaccine mandates from businesses, schools and possibly localities, while the Biden administration has resisted doing so at the federal level despite mandates for people in its workforce, like the one Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin imposed on U.S. service members by mid-September. So far, polling has shown the share of Americans who are unwilling to receive the vaccine remains steady at about 1 in 5, and a similar share cited vaccine or mask requirements as something that would cause them to quit their jobs.
Federal Reserve, Faegre, and Fredrikson & Byron push back return to office plans.
DEED’s $80M Main Street Economic Revitalization Program is accepting proposals. The first round of funding, $40M, closes to applications on August 31, 2021.
These 2 SBA COVID-19 small business programs still have $ money:
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and Targeted EIDL Advance.
I continue to follow leading economists and the Fed to get a sense of what’s ahead for the economy. The Federal Reserve policy setting committee's minutes are due out Wednesday. Why it's worth watching: markets will be interested in any hints toward the timing of the central bank pulling back economic support. Interested in what the Minneapolis Fed has to say about regional economic conditions? Join them for a webinar on Tuesday, August 24.
Also of particular interest this past week is the latest analysis from Wells Fargo, “What a drag it is getting old: implications for economic growth.” Economists Jay Bryson and Hop Mathews talk about the U.S. economy enjoying strong growth through 2022, as we snap back from our “pandemic-induced coma.” Real GDP growth of 7% this year and 5.6% in 2022 are good numbers. That said, what I found most fascinating – and is a new thought for me – is that, for 2023 and beyond, the growth of working-age population in the U.S. will slow considerably. Such shifts will return the U.S. to our longer term trend of real GDP increase of maybe 1.8% annually. We all know Boomers are retiring, which translates to slower spending and economic activity; this “will exert headwinds on the long-run potential growth rate of the U.S. economy, everything else equal.” You can read the full report here.
Big retailers such as Walmart Inc. and Home Depot Inc. will report earnings on Tuesday. Why it's worth watching:
Federal: Welcome to a period of calm (House and Senate are in recess this week) in the storm of trying to pass President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure deal and Democrats-only social spending measure. House lawmakers return next Monday to consider the $3.5 trillion budget resolution, which passed the Senate in a party-line vote.
State: Status update on tax law changes implementation: changes relate to unemployment compensation, PPP loan forgiveness, and other retroactive conformity provisions affecting tax years 2017 – 2020. In late July, DEED updated Minnesota tax forms for tax year 2020. Amend previous years’ returns using one or more of these forms.
Census results indicate major changes for state demographics and politics. Nationally, the U.S. experienced the slowest population growth since the 1930s, and is more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before as the number of white people fell for the first time since 1790 (read the full report here, content only available outside a paywall until August 21, 2021). In Minnesota, most of the growth was in the metro region (11%). Exurban counties grew by 9%, rest of the state grew by 2.6%.
St. Paul is poised to eliminate minimum parking rule: The City Council is ready to overturn a rule that requires developers to include parking spaces when constructing new commercial or residential buildings. The decision would make the city one of few in the United States to completely eliminate minimum parking requirements. Read more.
On Thursday, Mayor Carter presented his 2022 budget address. Watch it here.
- What’s missing: more money for Saint Paul’s streets. The City Council has said streets are a priority, so we shall see.
- Next: City Council votes on the final version of the budget in December.
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!
The St. Paul Downtown Alliance has hosted a huge variety of concerts and other events throughout downtown this summer, and have even more lined up into the fall. Some highlights include (find them all at welcomebackstpl.com):
The jobs market: “employment without borders” (Jim Tam, Keystone Partners). I remember the Great Recession, 2007 – 2009. I watched through the lens of manufacturers, saw the pressure to fill jobs – but with only incremental impact to wages. It is a different story this year. Across the nation, it’s a hiring market punctuated by a glut of available jobs, rising pay, significant counter offers and a frantic pace. Companies are having to sell themselves. And today’s candidates have considerable leverage. In addition, we are seeing reduced importance of geography for many positions. Just this past week I spoke to the principal of a large accounting firm in the region here whose employees are being courted for remote work with companies as far away as California – for significantly higher wages.
Here are 5 tools to help your remote-work business click.
August is Black Business Month. Here are a few of my favorite guides, directories, resources, and events from across the region to help you support Black entrepreneurs:
The American Clean Power Association (ACP) ranks Xcel Energy as the largest clean energy provider in the country when it comes to wind, solar, and battery storage. If you remember, Xcel has announced a vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity to its customers by 2050, and they are more than halfway there. This is worth an impressed pause and extended congratulations!
Delta is dialing up their already top-notch customer experience, with refreshed menus from top restaurants, and new “personal theater” experiences for customers. Also, get a first look at Delta’s new terminal at LaGuardia, opening in 2022.
695 Grand Ave: in July the Saint Paul’s planning commission voted in favor of the $32.5M “Dixie’s on Grand redevelopment project,” but last week City Council laid the vote over until this upcoming Wednesday. At issue: the City Council will need to approve rezoning the site to allow for the 5-story development. It sounds like the “door is still open,” and the developer – Reuters Walton Development – is looking to invest more in St. Paul moving forward. We are watching this one carefully.