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Minneapolis' newest rideshare company, Wridz, onboarded its first drivers Wednesday and began offering service in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, MyWeels, a second company recently licensed by the city, continues to ramp up operations after its debut May 2.

The two companies are the first to get approval to operate in the City of Lakes and are seeking to fill the void should Uber and or Lyft carry out their threat to leave on July 1 when new pay rates for drivers are set to take effect.

Three other companies planning to offer service in Minneapolis have applications pending, said city spokeswoman Greta Bergstrom.

"We are excited for drivers to take passengers," said Wridz CEO Steve Wright, who is in Minneapolis to meet drivers face to face and get them on the road.

He also plans to speak at a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at City Hall to officially begin service and augment social media blasts and announcements already airing on the media and entertainment service iHeartMedia. Members of the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association are expected to attend.

Wright is hoping to employ as many as 1,000 drivers as operations grow. Wridz is seeking authorization to drop off at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and in St. Paul. Wright said he hopes to have permission to pick up riders at those locations soon, too.

MyWeels has about 60 drivers on the streets daily and hopes to bump that number to 100 in the coming weeks. Service began two weeks ago and ridership is slowly growing, said Elam Baer, founder and CEO of the Eden Prairie-based North Central Equity.

MyWeels also is seeking licenses to conduct service at MSP and in St. Paul.

In the coming weeks, Baer is planning a major promotion to spread the word that MyWeels is here. For now, he's running at a small scale.

Both Baer and Wright say they can make a go of it in Minneapolis even when a new ordinance — requiring drivers to be paid $1.40 per mile, plus 51 cents a minute while a passenger is in the vehicle on trips within the city's borders — goes into effect. Drivers would be guaranteed 80% of fees collected when trips are canceled, according to the Minneapolis ordinance.

The Minneapolis City Council earlier this year approved the new minimum pay scales and other protections to ensure drivers earn the equivalent of the city's $15.57 hourly minimum wage.

A measure still being debated at the State Capitol would set statewide rates that would be slightly lower.

Both Uber and Lyft have said either increase would make it unfeasible to continue operating in Minneapolis when the rate hike takes effect July 1.

That has not deterred Baer from scaling up service.

"We just have accepted the rates are going to be what they are and build around that," he said. "I don't think the current rates are tenable for drivers."

Wright said his company will charge lower rates to remain competitive with Uber and Lyft until July 1. And after that "we will be fine," he said.

Both companies have apps that can be downloaded from the Google and Apple stores.