Evan Ramstad, an editor in the business section at the Star Tribune, will become the newest columnist in the section, starting Jan. 1.
An Iowa native, Ramstad, 57, has also worked as a reporter and editor in Dallas, New York, Washington, Hong Kong and Seoul. He spent most of his career covering technology companies in the Midwest and Asia.
For the last nine years, he's been a deputy editor at the Star Tribune, chiefly responsible for reporters covering real estate, retail and the economy.
He has occasionally written feature stories, including one about Korean soups for the Taste section, and led a redesigned Monday section with features that help readers manage their businesses and personal finances.
In columns to be published on Sundays and Wednesdays, Ramstad will write about Minnesota's business owners, executives and innovators with a regular focus on the effects of a new phenomenon in the state economy — a shrinking workforce.
We asked him a few questions:
Q: How did you get to Minnesota?
A: Like a lot of people who grew up in small towns in the Midwest, I went away for a time and then came back to be near my family. My father grew up in St. Paul and my mother on a farm in South Dakota. They moved here when they retired in the 1990s.
Q: Are you related to Jim Ramstad, the late congressman?
A: No. My parents met him several times and got to know him well enough to compare Norwegian ancestry. It's not a common last name, though there are more Ramstads in the Twin Cities than anywhere else in the country. I'll do my best to live up to the goodwill that the congressman created for the name.
Q: Have you ever done anything besides journalism?
A: As a teenager, I worked in the fields and, during summers in college, I worked in factories in the town where I grew up. In my adult life, I temporarily left journalism in 2001 to join a small business developing a TV show. I learned that it's harder to be in business than to write about it, particularly at the onset of a recession when capital dries up.
Q: Are you going to be a cheerleader for business or a critic?
A: Both, hopefully in surprising ways that will make people want to subscribe to the Star Tribune. I believe in free markets and free trade, competition and capitalism. But all of them can lead to excesses that require restraint from government, investors and consumers. Right now, American businesses are adapting to the end of decades of cheap capital and cheap labor. This is especially true in Minnesota and other northern states, where population growth is leveling off quickly. It's a time for imagination and bold change. A lot of people will be knocked off their moors because fundamental ideas they learned years ago in high school or at other times in their careers will no longer apply.