GOP may hate the export-import bank, but Minnesota small businesses love it

Categories: Business, Politics


The town of Princeton, Minnesota, is tiny, holding fewer than 5,000 people. But head to its southwest corner, a few blocks north of the town's auto shop and welder, and you'll find U.S. Distilled Products. From this tiny town, the company churns out all sorts of alcohol: bourbon, brandy, gin. Nearly everything a bar owner could ask for.

These are products that go around the world, to dealers in places like China and Australia. But to get them there, and to convince new foreign buyers to really jump in, the company sometimes needs a little help. So it often turns to the government, and in particular, a program called the export-import bank.

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Blue Plate backtracks, will no longer dip into servers' tips

Categories: Business, Food
Citing feedback from guests and the community, Blue Plate Restaurant Company has announced it will no longer dip into servers' tips, a practice it began when Minnesota's first minimum wage increase in nearly a decade went into effect August 1.

A press release announcing the move also announces that as of September 1, Blue Plate will pay all non-tipped employees a "living wage" of $9.69, which is about 20 percent above what the state's minimum wage law requires.

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Twin Cities no longer the metro area with lowest unemployment

Categories: Business

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Susan Lesch via Wikimedia

Remember a month ago, when everybody was celebrating the Twin Cities' new ranking as the metro area with the lowest unemployment rate? The state pointed to it as more evidence that the area was coming back strong from the recession. Big networks like CNBC even got in on the act.

Well, only a few weeks later, it looks like we've already lost the title, along with a few jobs. According to BLS data, the area's unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent in June, and the region is down number two in the nation, with Austin nudging us out by only .1 percent. But don't panic about the new designation: these rankings always tend to shift around, and month-to month numbers don't tell the whole story.

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Hell's Kitchen applauds minimum wage increase

Categories: Business
One of the Twin Cities' busiest restaurants actually thinks the minimum wage increase that went into effect August 1 isn't enough.
Though restaurants like the River Oasis Cafe in Stillwater and the Blue Plate family have made no secret about not being fans of Minnesota's first minimum wage increase in nearly a decade, one downtown Minneapolis restaurant has embraced it.

Pat Forciea, marketing director for Hell's Kitchen, tells us management and ownership at his restaurant "strongly supported the minimum wage increase."

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River Oasis Cafe getting killed for "Min Wage Fee" on Yelp

Categories: Business
River Oasis Cafe's Yelp page is hosting a heated discussion of the restaurant's controversial fee.
News that Stillwater's River Oasis Cafe is charging customers a 35-cent "minimum wage fee" has resulted in people from around the world destroying the place on Yelp.

Most of the Yelp reviews posted pre-minimum wave kerfuffle were positive, but the restaurant's aggregate score is quickly being dragged down as more and more people post their objections to the fee.

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Seward Co-op dumps some products made by anti-birth control Eden Foods, cites poor sales

Co-ops and groceries might not be boycotting Eden, but at Seward, a critical mass of customers are.
As local co-ops and groceries take heat for not dumping products made by Eden Foods, a Catholic-owned company under fire for refusing to provide birth control to its employees on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, the response from places like Mississippi Market and the Seward Co-op has been largely the same -- they won't boycott, but urge customers to vote with their dollars.

Some are apparently doing just that at the Seward Co-op, and in response, management announced earlier this week that they've already stopped selling some Eden products.

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Champions lawsuit alleging systemic city racism against "black bars" likely died with business

With the bar and its lawsuit going the way of the dodo, this might be the last time we write about Champions.
In 2012, Champions Sports Bar and Grill, a Lake and Nicollet dive, filed suit against the city of Minneapolis alleging officials, motivated by a desire to drive "establishments which cater to the African American community" out of business, had been unlawfully harassing the bar and its ownership for the better part of two years.

The city was in the habit of "violating the due process rights of establishments which cater to the African American community by attempting to impose unnecessary liquor license conditions on those establishments in an attempt to drive those establishments out of business," the lawsuit, which sought hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city for retaliation, defamation, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and violation of due process, among other claims, said.

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Stillwater cafe now charging customers a "minimum wage fee"

Oasis Cafe says the minimum wage increase will cost it $10,000 yearly, and it's passing some of that on to customers.
:::: UPDATE :::: River Oasis Cafe getting killed for "Min Wage Fee" on Yelp

Last Friday, for the first time in nearly a decade, Minnesota's minimum wage went up. The first in a series of incremental hikes brought the wage floor from $6.15 to $8 per hour for relatively large companies, and from $5.25 to $6.50 for small ones.

As you'd expect, some businesses aren't thrilled about that -- especially bars and restaurants, as the new law doesn't include a tip exception.

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New lawsuit against MN company shows the dangers in the business of blood

Categories: Business

Flickr via Michelle M. F.

When the Minneapolis-based company General Blood LLC launched in 2010, it came with a promise that it could revolutionize the market for blood. Founders Ben Bowman and David Mitchell wanted their company to connect the blood donation centers across the country to hospitals and labs, getting them blood quicker and cheaper.

But according to a lawsuit filed last month in Hennepin County District Court, getting through to parts of that market hasn't been so simple. And that's led to a feud in court between General Blood and one of its suppliers, the Oklahoma Blood Institute, showing the world the inner workings of the complicated business of buying and selling blood.

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Medtronic says coverage of local job cuts buries the lede

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Medtronic's world headquarters (pictured) is currently in Fridley, but the company plans to pack up and move to a more tax-friendly country.
Yesterday, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal broke news that Medtronic, Minnesota's eighth-largest company, is cutting 40 local jobs. That development comes less than a month after Gov. Mark Dayton said Medtronic CEO Omark Ishrak personally assured him his company plans to create 1,000 new jobs here even though it will be relocating its headquarters to Ireland.

A few paragraphs into the piece, the Business Journal notes that Medtronic "notified the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) [of the cuts] in April. The state agency recently disclosed the cuts in an update to its Dislocated Worker Program report." But a Medtronic spokesman says that tidbit should really be front and center in reports about the local job losses.

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