Guest blog post by Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President and CEO, Minnesota High Tech Association
The entrepreneur economy is exploding in the Midwest and our companies are developing leading-edge technologies. The 2018 Minnesota Venture Conference on Nov. 7 offers a day of insights, from investment experts and startup founders, into this thriving sector. For anyone whose business depends on tech innovations – which these days is all of us – it’s critical to keep up with where tech innovations are heading.
Some of the signs of exponential entrepreneur growth: Minnesota has added more than 500 tech startups since 2015 and coworking space in the Twin Cities has quadrupled in just two years, according to tech editor Brad Anderson at ReadWrite. The Forbes’ survey of 2018 Top 10 rising cities for startups has Columbus, Ohio, at No. 1 and includes St. Louis, Cincinnati and, of course, Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The power of the Midwest entrepreneur economy is demonstrated in the investors, experts and entrepreneurs gathering for the Minnesota Venture Conference. The presenters are coming from across the Midwest, from Chicago and Columbus, Madison to Minneapolis, and more.
This year’s conference is focusing on three hot tech topics: AI/data analytics, blockchain and cybersecurity.
On the investor side, we have a lineup of national experts. Russ Felker, of Chicago-based West Monroe Partners and an expert in blockchain, will present his view on how business is already being transformed by “auditability” of activities from the sale of hard goods, medical credentialing, energy usage and more. Gene Munster, managing partner of Chicago-based Loup Ventures, will talk on how work and commerce are impacted by AI and robotics, how communication and even the brain is changing from the impact of these technologies.
The entrepreneurs pitching at the conference represent leading-edge innovators, with new business models, new technologies and new ways of applying technology. One example is Sharenomy, a Michigan-based fin-tech startup, which is using blockchain to develop a new platform for shared funding and saving that helps micro businesses and small businesses have improved access to capital. Another fin-tech startup, Silicon Prairie Portal & Exchange, has a new platform for crowdfunding of entrepreneurs and business owners. Big Wheelbarrow and TraIve have innovations to transform agriculture. DataChat, a spin-off of UW-Madison, has patented technology to analyze business conversations and turn them into valuable actionable insights.
I encourage you to take a closer look at what the MN Venture Conference has to offer. More info can be found at MnVenture.org. And I hope you will join me for a day of insights on Wednesday, November 7.
Guest blog post by Clean Energy Economy Minnesota
From our crazy cold winters to Tater Tot Hotdish - Minnesota is known for a variety of things. But if you were posed with the question, “What comes to your mind when you think about Minnesota?” we bet clean energy wouldn’t be at the top of your list. But according to the recently released Clean Jobs Midwest Report, here’s why it should be: three reasons why Minnesota’s booming clean energy economy should be a point of Minnesota pride.
Fast-growing jobs with above-average wages
In 2017, clean energy jobs grew twice as fast as overall job growth in Minnesota, and now employ more than 59,000 Minnesotans. Not only that, but clean energy employers are projecting to add more than 2,600 jobs in the next year – that’s a growth rate of 4.6 percent. This means that clean energy is quickly and consistently adding jobs to Minnesota’s economy - and the wages are far from minimum. The average wage for a job in the clean energy industry in Minnesota is $71,000, that’s 42 percent higher than the statewide average. Clean energy is working hard for Minnesotans, providing an increasing amount of jobs with competitive wages; who wouldn’t want to brag about that?
Major money back in your pocket
While clean energy offers a plethora of employment opportunities, it simultaneously works to put money back in Minnesotans’ pockets. Energy efficiency, our largest clean energy sector with some 44,000 jobs, is adding jobs at a faster rate than the rest of the Midwest.
Minnesota is assisted in these jobs gains by having long-standing energy policies that prioritize efficiency in our utilities long-range planning. In fact, one of Minnesota’s most successful energy policies, called the Conservation Improvement Program (or CIP) has helped save Minnesotans $6 billion since 1998. For every public dollar spent on the program, it returns $4 dollars in economic benefits.
We think all Minnesotans should be proud of our state’s commitment to saving energy!
Minnesota is a clean energy leader
Minnesota is a leading example of how beneficial clean energy can be. All three of Minnesota’s largest clean energy sectors experienced growth between 2016 and 2017, despite the overall Midwest experiencing a decline in clean energy jobs. In fact, jobs in our two largest sectors, energy efficiency and renewables, grew faster in Minnesota than the rest of the Midwest.
Minnesota even moved up in the rankings of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) state energy efficiency scorecard this year – leading the entire Midwest, and coming in number 8 out of all 50 states.
Minnesota is a shining example to other states of how they too can have a cleaner, stronger, more reliable energy economy. As other states move toward clean energy, Minnesotans will be able to proudly say, “We helped lead the way.”
To put it simply, clean energy is benefiting Minnesota in a variety of ways. While it may not be as obvious as winters that last 9 months, our clean energy economy is working hard for Minnesotans and deserves to be on the list of Minnesota points of pride.
Guest blog post by Meghan Kimmel, President of Portico Healthnet
Portico Healthnet wants to thank our Leadership Saint Paul (LSP) service group, which has been instrumental in helping plan and execute our fundraising event, Cocktails for Coverage. This event will be a networking and social gathering for community leaders committed to health coverage access for underserved communities. Please join us for this fun evening, and see the value of LSP service groups in action!
Cocktails for Coverage comes at a critical time for health care access. Despite reaching a record low in 2015, the uninsurance rate in Minnesota is on the rise; about 349,000 Minnesotans currently lack health insurance. The highest rates of uninsured are among the very people Portico serves: low‐income people, people of color, immigrants, and people with limited education. The barriers for those remaining uninsured are persistent and complex.
Portico offers health care enrollment and navigation services to all Minnesotans, regardless of income or immigration status. Our multi-lingual, culturally competent staff connect our communities’ most vulnerable people to the health services and resources they need.
We are grateful to the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to work with leaders from our community. We hope to see you at this year’s Cocktails for Coverage!
Meghan Kimmel, President
Cocktails for Coverage
Date: Thursday, October 4th
Time: 5:30 – 7:30 pm; 6:00 pm program
Venue: James J. Hill Center, 80 W 4th St. Saint Paul. MN
Get your tickets here:
Guest blog post by American Cancer Society
Nearly 250,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
That could be your mother, sister, daughter, your wife, or even you.
Join us for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of the Twin Cities on Saturday, October 27 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The American Cancer Society host Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks across the country so anyone touched by breast cancer won't have to face their diagnosis alone. We do it to raise awareness and money to fund research, support services, and early detection. Ultimately, Making Strides events help save lives.
The money is used to fund innovative research, provide free information and support programs to patients and caregivers, and to help reduce breast cancer risks or find it early when it's most treatable. That's why your participation in these walks is absolutely critical to our success. The more money we can raise through these walks, the bigger the impact we can make on cancer.
Money raised this year could go towards developing the next generation of lifesaving treatments. Which means you could be a part of the next big breast cancer breakthrough!
Here are a few ways you & your company can get involved:
Guest blog post by Jack Semler, President & CEO, Readex Research
Do you remember what it felt like the last time you lost a customer? Surprised? Angry? Upset? And what did the unhappy customer do, at least as far as you know? Told someone else, texted, used social media to post a gripe. Then you and your team had to find a new customer! Think of the time, energy, money expended to find that “replacement” customer.
Most companies want to have a listening program in place, but don’t. There is the general thought that a Customer Experience (CX) listening process is too expensive, too complicated, takes too much time or demands too much from staff. All of this can be true if you don’t have a planned and focused program in place.
Customers who have complaints don’t know how to be heard. People prefer a safe and comfortable process; that it’s OK to voice their opinion. There is good news. Businesses that are serious about listening to their customers experiences have options when activating a productive process; beneficial for customers, employees and business.
Suggestions you can implement immediately:
These are all listening channels; opportunities where customers can actively engage with your business and share feedback about their experiences.
The most popular means for engaging and hearing from your customers is through online or mail surveys. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Our research recommends that a customer experience survey should be limited to no more than five questions.
Here are some survey tips:
If you do implement listening channels, take them seriously; be prepared to follow up quickly with the customer if an issue comes to your attention. Remember how you felt when you complained and nothing happened? Be different. Show the customer you care by taking action. A little attention goes a long way. www.readexresearch.com
Guest blog post by American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. For more than 110 years, we have led the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air, whether it’s searching for cures for lung diseases, preventing tobacco use, or fighting for laws that protect the air we breathe. Learn more about our teams’ priorities:
Our Development Team leads two major events - Fight For Air Climb coming up on Saturday, February 24, 2018 and the Oxygen Ball on Friday, May 11, 2018. The climb is one of the American Lung Association’s signature events with over 30,000 participants from 52 participating Climb events across the country. Last year we raised more than $8.3 million to support research, patient education and advocacy efforts. Join us and help fight lung disease!
Our Clean Air Team works to reduce air pollution.
Our Lung Health Team is dedicated to improving the lives of those living with lung diseases and their caregivers.
Our Tobacco Control Team leads advocacy efforts to prevent tobacco use and cessation to quit smoking.
Join us to help create a world free of lung disease! If you would like to learn more about the American Lung Association, please visit our website at Lung.org or reach out to Greg Voss at Greg.Voss@Lung.org.
Guest blog post by Tony Lusiba, Upvant
National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), designed by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and take steps to stay safe online.
Cybersecurity Threats doesn’t just affect big companies like Equifax, Target or Home Depot. Small and Medium sized businesses face a constantly evolving set of potential threats as well, from data security breaches to downtime from unexpected events.
Below is a summary of 17 actionable steps any CEO or business unit leader can do to protect their small or medium sized business from a Cybersecurity attack. The full report can be downloaded here: https://goo.gl/4tmjeQ
Download the full report here: https://goo.gl/4tmjeQ
Let us help
We provide Cyber Security Assessments done by a certified Cyber Security IT Professional using industry accepted cyber security practices. Contact us by visiting: http://www.upvant.com/contact-us/ or calling 844.6.UPVANT to get started.
Guest blog post by Eva Thompson, Alzheimer's Association Minnesota - North Dakota
My name is Eva Thompson. I’m a 36 year-old, single mother of the sweetest little boy. My son is five years old and started kindergarten last week. He’s the light of my life and one of many reasons I’m participating in this year’s Twin Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 9 at Target Field.
Alzheimer’s disease runs rampant in my family. It took my grandmother when I was in high school, as well her brother. It’s a disease that has touched my life and one I hope we can eradicate in the near future. A defining moment of my life was when my own mother, Lucy, was diagnosed with it at the young age of 61. Sadly, she lost her battle just four years later in September of 2015.
My mommy was incredible. She was a loving and dedicated mother, grandmother, sister, teacher, and friend. She was kind and gentle, a caregiver, an incredible listener and grammar fanatic, and the most patient person I’ve ever known. My mother’s motto was TTTBK--Take Time to Be Kind. This is something I now share with my own son so he’ll be as grateful as I am for the lessons she taught.
Shortly after her diagnosis, Mom, along with my siblings and I, made the decision to sell her home and move her in with my older sister, Leah. While this living situation proved difficult at times for my sister and her family, we all agreed it was the best place for mom to be - we were dedicated to keeping her home for as long as possible. She would be cared for and loved by her family.
Her care, over time, became trying for my sister and her family. The stress it caused was evident and we all struggled with guilt and heartbreak as we watched her rapid decline. Watching her slowly lose herself was devastating. She was becoming the child, and we her parents. We watched her lose her memories. She spoke to us as if we were strangers. We watched her struggle to communicate. We watched her lose her ability to drive, cook, teach, read, play with and care for her grandchildren, and ultimately feed or care for herself.
My mother’s death was the darkest time of my life. Out of her struggle, I hope to bring awareness of Alzheimer’s disease to the forefront. Over the years, my involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association has increased through advocacy, volunteer work, and my involvement with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s this year. I made the decision to Chair this year’s event with the intention of making an even bigger impact. I walk for my mom, but I also walk for future generations. I walk so my own son doesn’t have to watch me suffer with this disease. I walk for all those living with the disease and their caregivers. I walk so this disease will end with my mom’s generation.
Join me on September 9 as we walk to help end Alzheimer’s – register today at alz.org/walk.
Guest post by Nilan Johnson Lewis
Minnesota restaurateurs face a unique state tip statute that makes it very difficult to ensure that tips can be pooled and divided among servers and non-servers (thereby lowering labor costs for the non-serving employees). The issue came to a head last week in a case against Surly Brewing Company, when a Hennepin County District Court judge ruled that Surly’s tips policy violated Minnesota’s tip-pooling laws. A hearing has now been set to determine damages owed to a class of over 100 servers and bartenders. The potential damages award is likely to be considerable.
So what makes Minnesota’s tip-pooling rules so unique? Under federal law and that of most states, a restaurant can require tip-pooling among employees as long as those forced to participate in the pool “customarily and regularly” receive tips. Generally, only employees who normally receive tips can participate in the pool. Since the dishwasher is not getting tips for how clean the plates are, servers cannot be forced to pool their tips with him. Under federal law, employees who “customarily and regularly” receive tips may include, among others, hosts, bartenders, bussers (and, of course, servers).
Minnesota law is quite different. Whether a restaurant can require employees to participate in a tip pool does not depend on who “customarily and regularly” receives tips, but rather on a distinction between “direct service” employees, who can be required to participate, and “indirect service” employees, who cannot. The controlling regulations unhelpfully define a direct service employee as “one who in a given situation performs direct service for a customer.” An indirect service employee “is a person who assists a direct service employee,” including “bus people, dishwashers, cooks, or hosts.” Thus, unlike federal law, servers cannot be forced to share their tips with bussers and hosts who only assist servers, but do not themselves sufficiently perform direct service.
But while mandatory tip-pooling is permissible in Minnesota only for direct service employees, if the pool truly is voluntary and without participation by restaurant management, then anyone—including servers, bussers, hosts, etc.—may join the pool. The challenge, however, is a restaurant’s ability to legally encourage pools that remain sufficiently voluntary to meet this requirement.
This is primarily where Surly ran afoul of the law. The Court’s 45-page order was based on several key principles flowing from the Minnesota tips statute:
The Court’s ruling was not for Surly’s lack of trying to comply. In fact, Surly twice revised its policy and practices to try to make the arrangement more voluntary. Surly’s efforts, the Court found, were simply more evidence of employer participation in the pool.
Surly is not the first Minnesota restaurateur to fall victim to State’s complex tip-pooling laws. Prior decisions have issued against Outback, Starbucks, and Pinstripes. The law is complex and compliance is difficult. Minnesota restaurateurs should consider auditing their policies and practices, in consultation with legal counsel, to ensure compliance and to implement corrective measures, if necessary.
Guest post by Augurian
B2B companies are often unsure of the value in social media. Many times, their products are not consumer-facing, and they struggle to find much of a following on these networks.
Despite this difficulty with organic social, B2B companies have seen success using paid social ads on networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Recent polls have shown that more and more people are using Facebook advertising over LinkedIn, even for professional purposes.
In our experience, Facebook has been one of our best publishers in terms of ROI.
We have always considered LinkedIn a high-quality publisher, but with a high cost per lead and many features lacking.
But this might have all just changed…
LinkedIn just announced their quarterly product release and B2B marketers’ prayers may have just been answered.
Here’s a quick rundown of the new updates: