We are still reeling from yesterday’s looting and rioting across the metro. Minneapolis and Saint Paul both had concentrated areas of real civil disturbance in response to the horrific killing of George Floyd on Monday. We will continue to keep you apprised of the situation as it progresses.
See a copy of the statement we released on Thursday here and latest news as of (time of email send) from the Pioneer Press here.
On Thursday evening, Governor Walz signed an Executive Order activating National Guard, stating “As Governor, I will always defend the right to protest, “it is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.” The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency. Additionally, the Minnesota State Patrol will assist in public safety efforts for the next several days. Approximately 200 troopers will work with state, county, and local community and public safety partners. State Patrol helicopters and fixed wind aircraft will also be available to assist law enforcement officers on the ground.
In response to the horrific killing of George Floyd, many of our citizens have taken to the streets to grieve and demand justice. However people want to categorize these activities, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr, “A riot,” King said, “is the language of the unheard.”
Today the language of the unheard escalated to Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce wants you to be aware of important updates as well as actions to consider as we get through this together.
Please be advised there is a large police presence due to rioting and looting in the Midway area and further disturbances have been reported throughout the metro area.
We are in contact with the Emergency Operation Center, Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell and the office of Mayor Melvin Carter to continue monitoring.
Governor Walz just signed an Executive Order activating National Guard, stating “As Governor, I will always defend the right to protest, “it is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.” The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency. Additionally, the Minnesota State Patrol will assist in public safety efforts for the next several days. Approximately 200 troopers will work with state, county, and local community and public safety partners. State Patrol helicopters and fixed wind aircraft will also be available to assist law enforcement officers on the ground.
Metro Transit is suspending service today as of 4pm, Rosedale, Maplewood Mall and the Mall of America have closed, and many businesses are closing early.
Our first consideration is the tragic loss and collective grief experienced as a result of the killing of George Floyd. In this context we want safety for all in our community. We are also committed to long-term solutions that will expand economic opportunity for everyone in our community and break down the systemic barriers that currently exist. As you know, the state of Minnesota has one of the largest economic disparity gaps in the country. This reality, in combination with blatant disregard for life has caused much distress and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce maintains our commitment to building a prosperous East Metro region that works for all of us.
We will continue to keep you connected as we know more. If your business is in need of resources, see the links below or contact us. If your business has sustained damage from this unrest, please let us know .
Please be safe and stay informed and updated on this quickly evolving news from our member media partners:
Minnesota Public Radio
5 Eyewitness News
Minneapolis Saint Paul Business Journal
Twin Cities Public Television
Be a part of the long-term solution - Pay it Forward
As we witness the traumatic and destructive events, many of us are seeking ways to make a difference. Please consider how you can pay it forward to build a stronger and more equitable region and let us now if you have additional ways to rebuild our community together.
Join our effort to help Saint Paul and East Metro business owners navigate the confusing array of COVID-19 grant and loan relief opportunities.
We're working to help find, train and match experienced financial and business professionals with local business owners who need assistance applying for financial help.
Find out more and volunteer to become an economic first responder.
Be well and be safe.
President & CEO
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
Today the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis published the results of the latest economic survey. Businesses treading water amid unprecedented conditions.
Results from a recent Minneapolis Fed survey of firms across the Ninth District suggest that this struggle might be likened to treading water in a flooded springtime river. Everybody in the water is affected. Some find comparative safety—albeit temporary and inconvenient, but less damaging—in the eddies and smaller pools created outside the main current.
This survey was a follow-up to March and April surveys gauging the pandemic’s effects. Many of the challenges identified previously persist: revenues are down steeply, workforces have been slashed, wages are being cut for many of those who remain employed, certain sectors are affected more deeply than others, and insolvency is a real risk for many firms. It is worth noting that several major state-level actions took place during or after the execution of this survey, including the expiration of Minnesota’s stay-at-home order, which allowed for the reopening of many businesses on May 18, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision on May 14 to overturn the state’s stay-at-home order, which effectively allowed many previously closed, non-essential businesses to reopen immediately. As such, any changes in overall sentiment or activity as a result of these post-survey policy changes are not reflected in this survey
Ron Wirtz, the Fed’s Outreach Director, will join me for a webinar on Thursday, May 28, to talk about the results. Register here to join us.
Also worth special attention is an opinion piece in the Pioneer Press last Thursday, written by the Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Senior Vice President of Community Impact (and SPACC Board member) Acooa Ellis: “Learning in – and from – a crisis.” A couple sentences that spoke powerfully to me, how we can take our current tragic circumstances and work now to reimagine a better future. “We know disparate education outcomes reflect systems that in many ways were not designed to meet the needs of today’s students. We also know tumultuous times can light a spark for innovation…This moment of disruption presents the charge to examine what could be, against the backdrop of what has been, on behalf of the workforce of the future. If when this crisis passes, we forget the empathy created by our shared experience and fall back into familiar patterns, the gap we collectively lament will widen. Intentional action is required to disrupt inequities and draw meaningful connections to opportunity… We are all well outside of our comfort zones — let’s use this time to ignite our imaginations, to reframe the narrative from crisis response to an invitation for long overdue innovation."
Today I want to highlight McKinsey’s executive briefing on “Covid-19: Implications for Business.” In terms of the pandemic and public health, the article highlights 5 trends to watch. The bottom line is that a thoughtful approach is paramount. Read the full article here.
There are still many places where the epidemic is getting worse (the U.S., too, remains on the “upslope”).
Reopening is a massive natural experiment – make sure you learn from it (never before have we attempted to shut down the modern global economy).
The reproduction number (R) or transmissibility is important, but so is the absolute number of cases (which is still climbing in the U.S.)
It’s (still) all about testing, tracing, and targeted quarantine
Innovation – and clinical evidence – leads to hope (speed and scale of R&D response is unprecedented)
I have one other comment today, and it’s in response to a recent article from the New York Times, as shared by Finance & Commerce. Few minority-owned businesses are getting relief loans. A new survey, conducted by the Global Strategy Group for two equal-rights organizations, Color of Change and UnidosUS, included interviews with 500 business owners and 1,200 workers from April 30 to May 11. Just 12% of the owners who applied for aid from the Small Business Administration — most of them seeking loans in the $650 billion paycheck program — reported receiving what they had asked for, while 26% said they had received only a fraction of what they had requested.
By comparison, in a survey of small businesses by the Census Bureau from April 26 to May 2, three-quarters said they had asked for a loan and 38% of them said they had received one. Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, said the new survey showed that “if we don’t get policies to protect these communities, we will lose a generation of black and brown businesses, which will have deep impacts on our entire country’s economy.”
Know that SPACC is committed to direct assistance here. We partnered with the City of Saint Paul, SCORE, Ramsey County, and several culturally focused business development organizations to launch the Pay it Forward initiative to help find, train and match experienced financial and business professionals with local business owners who need assistance applying for financial help. Check out the program here.
Please note - We are looking for technical experts in finance, business structure, and operations to help local culturally owned businesses apply for the still-available PPP funds as well as local grant programs. Find out more and volunteer to become an economic first responder.
SPACC continues to see other ways to support all businesses with an eye on those most disenfranchised. Your support and help on the economic front line will ensure our economy comes back stronger, with businesses better equipped for long-term survival.
I was accompanied by many more cars this morning, as I drove in to work. So very glad for the company!
My plan for today had been to review McKinsey’s suggested five horizons that every executive should use to ensure an organization’s rapid response, adaptation to change, and reemergence in a position of strength. That will have to wait till Thursday.
Immediately before us is the reality of a legislative session that ended before their work was done. No bills were passed related to bonding, taxes, the Governor’s emergency powers, or state employee contracts. What?
We’re facing an environment in which economic activity in some sectors has virtually stopped. McKinsey & Company is now estimating that 40-50% of discretionary consumer spending (remember, this drives our overall GDP) may not occur. This alone would translate to a roughly 10% reduction in GDP. And the longer a lockdown is in place, the worse the impact. This is straight from McKinsey: “with 25% of US households living from paycheck to paycheck, and 40% of Americans unable to cover an unexpected expense of $400 without borrowing, the impact of extended lockdowns for many, many people will be nothing short of catastrophic.”
Minnesota’s leadership is providing a strong public health response. We all are charged with the responsibility for the strongest supporting public policy response possible. And I would propose that a session ending as it did this year reflects ineffective public policy.
The economy needs a cash infusion. From the Chamber’s perspective the two most critical outstanding issues are the strongest bonding bill possible, and liability protections for business. We encourage the House and Senate leadership to get to a compromise in these areas during the anticipated special session.
Together we can ensure a delayed but full economic recovery. Absent strong policy support, self-reinforcing recession dynamics kick in, prolonging the downturn without economic recovery.
Tick tock. Two more restaurants just closed permanently.
Well yesterday was quite the day of announcements. I’m sure you listened to the Governor’s briefing last night. If not, I’ve got links below. Many of us will be figuring how and when to bring people back to the workplace. We’re planning for some staff to come back into the office on Monday, May 18, based on our preparedness plan, while most of us will continue working remotely. Our touchless thermometer from Target arrived today, which was timely. Thanks again to Target for selling these at cost to Minnesota businesses!
This next “new normal” will look unlike any in the years preceding the coronavirus; the pandemic has changed so much, but not everything. I can assure you what is not changed: this is the year we’re going to be your indispensable partner and trusted resource. Indeed, chambers are made for such times as these.
Our top priority is working to help members through the pandemic and into economic recovery.
No matter your circumstance, please know we are here for you and want to help. Please reach out to us if there is something you need.
In our next Sit Rep on Monday, I’ll review McKinsey’s suggested five horizons that every executive should use to ensure an organization’s rapid response, adaptation to change, and reemergence in a position of strength.
As we look ahead, thinking big picture, what’s changing? How are you preparing your business to recover from COVID-19?
Right now, outside of the pandemic itself what’s changing most seems to be the psychology of people, as measured by the level of anxiety and extent – and duration – to which people will go to avoid crowds. Today COVID-19 is keeping us apart. Tomorrow, it may be our own uncertainty driving the same behavior. Addressing this is of primary importance as we recover. When it is safe to reconvene, can we address employee and consumer concerns? If we have an ongoing unease about reconnecting, we can by that very uncertainty extend and deepen this pandemic-based recession.
Employee and customer demand is changing. Flexibility is key right now. Maybe we can bring that forward? How, when, and where can employees accomplish their work? What’s a new sales channel to reach clients? Remember, we mustn’t be in service to our business model; we must be in service to the demand before us. There’s no more “going back to normal.” It’s not going to be the same. We will need to embrace the new normal, the “better normal,” in terms of opportunity before us.
Prepare for a recovery that is faster than you think. Certainly, the pace of recovery is yet uncertain. It may be longer, given the virus, the economic impact to businesses, and the psychology of the consumer discussed above. Alternately, it may be faster than you think. If you look at economic recovery data for China, for example, their recovery is coming along at a rate much higher than predictions. This recession is based on something outside of the economy’s fundamentals. We, too, should be prepared. So what can we do?
For one, businesses with more than one sales channel are doing better. Retailers with only one access point to customers, such as a brick and mortar store, clearly are suffering. Those with online options are doing better.
Clients’ needs are changing. And can your organization change for them?
Continue to nurture your prospects. Stay in touch with them (they’re still out there!), let them know how your company is adapting, stay front of mind and demonstrate your adaptability.
Prepare now for a probable increase in demand. I anticipate that the second half of this year will be busier than ever. For all of us.
Today is kick-off for National Nurses Week and we are in the middle of Teacher Appreciation Week. It’s always helpful to get out of our own situation and reach out to serve someone else. No better time than today to thank a nurse or teacher. They serve us, every day, and shape our future. My own shout-out goes to Millie Hemmelgarn, my English teacher at Woodbury High School. A long time ago, I know, but she stays with me. She wasn’t cool, not by any stretch, but she was both kind and vigorous, with a biting wit and a generous intelligence that invited you in. She saw me, became my friend. She remains a lifelong role model for me. Thanks Millie!
Sunday marked the 37th day of Minnesota’s Stay At Home Order. Today marked the next step in the easing into reopening, at least for some of us. The Pioneer Press wrote a nice article reviewing these past 5 weeks and “what it accomplished and what it didn’t.”
What have we gained? Minnesotans have followed the Stay At Home requirements more closely than most, such that we’ve pushed the curve out and actually flattened it – slowing the spread, at least for now. We’ve gotten a handle on testing, and should be able to reach the 5,000 tests/day goal. Our ICU bed capacity is up, as is our stockpile of supplies.
The price we’ve paid? Nearly 594,000 Minnesotans filed unemployment claims by the end of April and untold businesses will shutter for good. Where isolation is less possible, and where we are most vulnerable, the losses have been high. More than 75% of the state’s 428 deaths have been residents of long term care facilities, and now we know that asymptomatic spread is the virus’s greatest weapon: we can be contagious for up to 48 hours before any onset of symptoms. Peak in Minnesota is anticipated to be sometime in July; what we know for sure is that this is far from over.
The hope I have for you is what I hold on to for myself: the vision of our future in which we all stand together and shout, “we are still here!” Be encouraged friends.
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling weary today. A little anxious. I’m not sure if it’s too much stress over work or not enough people time? I miss you, that much I do know. We’ve been locked down for weeks now. Hard to believe it was March 6 that Minnesota had its first case. Steve Grove, Commissioner of DEED, said it best: “The progress Minnesota has made in the past month has been on the backs of Minnesota’s small businesses.” And we all feel that burden with you.
If any of you are feeling similarly burdened, I hope you too are cheered to see this recent twitter post: my hat is off to Sky Candy Studios, who captured a moment in time – and our cities – so beautifully. Eerily quiet, to be sure, but I had to share it!
Here’s the video for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.