Neal St. Anthony
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Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Local economy lags in key areas, report says

Minnesota’s business climate continues to be a mixed bag for economic growth, according to the 2020 Minnesota Business Benchmarks report, commissioned by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

“This report helps deepen our understanding of Minnesota’s economic competitiveness,” Minnesota chamber President Doug Loon said.

Several indicators of overall performance, including job creation and GDP, have lagged behind the national average for most of the past five years.

The benchmarks report, released Thursday at the Minnesota chamber’s annual meeting, compiles key indicators to identify the state’s strengths, as well as areas for improvement for Minnesota to compete in the global economy. The “comprehensive, objective data” was compiled from sources such as state and federal agencies.

The report is at The fifth-annual report provides insights such as improved highway performance, lower workers’ compensation costs, and more talent coming into Minnesota through state-to-state and international migration. However, the chamber said there are troubling trends, which include rising taxes and health care costs, and economic performance that lags behind the national average.

Minnesota has a productive workforce and continues to be a leader in innovation, Loon added.

Minnesota also has a worker shortage. And the chamber supports immigration reform that will create more employees.

“We need to solve the problem for down the road,” said Hussein Farah, executive director of New Vision Foundation in St. Paul.

Laura Ekholm, executive vice president at L&M Radiator in Hibbing, Minn., said the company is increasingly stymied by state regulations.

“We aren’t just a Minnesota company,” she said. “If something adds costs to doing business in Minnesota, we won’t look favorably. We need to keep [Minnesota companies] here.”

Neal St. Anthony

The Workers Lab

CTUL “raises the floor” for workers

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) is one of the organizations that has received a $150,000 grant from the Workers Lab 2019 Innovation Fund.

Minneapolis-based CTUL’s new Building Dignity and Respect Standards Council collaborates with major construction developers on a set of worker-enforced labor standards designed to “raise the floor” of the industry.

“Wage theft, dangerous conditions and labor trafficking have become all too common in the Twin Cities construction industry,” said Merle Payne, co-director of CTUL. With support from the Workers Lab, construction workers are ready to fight back in a powerful new way.

“Innovation Fund funding will facilitate the launch of a new worker-led standard-setting organization which will partner with CTUL to transform the industry. Organizers and worker-leaders on the project are thrilled to be selected for the Workers Lab funding and ready to ramp up this innovative new implementation of the worker-driven social responsibility model.”

Since its inception, the Innovation Fund has invested more than $2.2 million in more than 38 projects nationwide.

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Neal St. Anthony

leadership matters

Exec’s blog-turned-book now a textbook

Twin Cities businesswoman Nancy Dahl ducked out of the C-suite several years ago and began putting her thoughts on leadership into a blog.

The blog turned into a book which turned into her next chapter as an author, consultant and speaker on how to be yourself while still being an effective leader.

Students at the University of St. Thomas and South Dakota State University now use her 2017 self-published book, “Grounded: Leading Your Life with Intention,” in undergraduate and graduate leadership programs.

And staff at the career office at South Dakota State worked through the book to evaluate the way they work with students, according to Dahl’s press agent.

Earlier this month, “Grounded” was recognized by New York City Big Book Award and National Indie Excellence Awards.

Dahl spent more than two decades at Lifetouch, where she was the first female president of a major division.

She also held executive-level positions at Cambria and Tastefully Simple, and has experience working in five industries.

Her firm IQ Strategic Partners works with individuals, organizations and leadership teams.

Jackie Crosby