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: How Allina, Blue Cross define the 'value-based' trend sweeping health care

It's a term that's close to meaningless to an industry outsider.


Schafer: From the left and right, ideas flow for an income floor

Economist Milton Friedman and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter share an idea.


Schafer: We are working harder to adjust to the here and now of the pandemic

Six months into the pandemic in the U.S., the picture does not look that much clearer.


Schafer: Private equity won't fill Minnesota's pension gap

There's no quick and low-cost way to sell the private assets and no real-time price for what they are worth.


Schafer: Home real estate may be immune to the pandemic, but commercial properties aren't

It's easy to guess where it's really painful, with social distancing keeping lots of people from shopping in stores or staying in hotels.


Schafer: Pandemic-driven virtual conferences may be here to stay

The marketers at Minnesota’s media companies came up with clever State Fair T-shirts this year after all, like Minnesota Public Radio’s “The Great…


Schafer: Diverging effects of the pandemic visible in the numbers at Target, Walmart

It has long been understood that these two companies have a different core customer, even with a big overlap in merchandise at similar prices.


Schafer: Can a downturn actually be the right time to start a business?

Recessions do seem to create more incentive for potential customers to look for cheaper or more efficient ways to do things.


Schafer: Will it take a pandemic to finally change college sports?

Without money, the unfairness in the way risks and rewards were spread around gets exposed.


Schafer: The best-kept secret in town? An at-home workout provider takes off in the pandemic

Usage of the fitness and wellness coaching service of Wellbeats skyrocketed, but this was not some sort of accident.