Columnist | Business

Lee Schafer joined the Star Tribune as a columnist in 2012 after 15 years in business, including leading his own consulting practice and serving on corporate boards of directors. He's twice been named the best in business columnist by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, most recently for his work in 2017.

Schafer grew up on a southwest Minnesota cattle farm and studied history and economics at Macalester College. He received his masters degree from Northwestern University and worked as a writer and editor for a regional business monthly before returning to business. His work included investment banking but he had the most fun advising CEOs on growth strategy. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Tanya Bell, a real estate development consultant and civic leader, and they have three adult daughters. He's also been active as a volunteer, including for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood House and Urban Homeworks.


Schafer: Two Minnesota retail giants pay their workers when it counts most

Of 13 big retailers reviewed by research staff of the Washington, D.C. -based Brookings Institution, Best Buy was the top giver of additional compensation to front-line workers.


Schafer: Election revealed an economic paradox: Those doing well voted for change

What was already a very divided country remains one. And one of the biggest dividing lines is economic.


Schafer: Why the well-off should be thankful for good fortune

In the past 30 years, the share of wealth held by the bottom half of American households has been cut in half to less than 2%.


Schafer: Why Dollar General's store in downtown Minneapolis could be a good thing

Dollar General might have taken the place of Walmart as a retailer thought to both serve its customers well yet make communities worse. For those…


Schafer: Industry leader says e-commerce changes at retailers is here to stay

The pandemic has brought at least five years of progress in the transition to shopping online in eight or nine months — or maybe it’s…


Schafer: We all have COVID fatigue, yet there's reason for optimism

It doesn’t seem easy to tell the difference between COVID fatigue and depression. What constitutes the real differences is best left to the pros, but…


Schafer: You are on your own financially in America, voters said once again

Those looking for a clear-cut election decision must have been disappointed last week, with more divided government both in Washington and here in Minnesota. Yet…


At a moment of great need, how wide should charities and foundations open their wallets?

Philanthropy is another industry, if you could call it one, debating what to do now when doing business as usual just has to be wrong.…


Why the PPP bailout worked for some small businesses and not others

A congressional staff report this month on the Paycheck Protection Program didn't have much good to say about the Treasury Department's execution of it. The…


Schafer: Virtual conference Remo relies on good old-fashioned art of storytelling

And curiously, the virtual technology seemed to bring the stories more to life.