What are the forces moving the Minnesota economy? Adam Belz tries to identify the trends and show the connections between Minnesota and the larger U.S. and global economies. You can connect with him on Twitter: @adambelz

Opening Belz, July 17

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: July 17, 2014 - 11:08 AM

Kieran’s loved the All-Star Game, Smack Shack not so much – StarTribune
Mortensen taking bids for turf work at new Vikings stadium – Finance & Commerce
Frac sand barge loading station plan tabled in Winona – Winona Daily News
U.S., Europe expand sanctions against Russia – Washington Post
Big pension problems coming for the state of Minnesota – American Experiment
Without influx of immigrants, Duluth would have lost residents – News Tribune
White House poses new hurdle for Medtronic-Covidien deal – StarTribune
Flaring in NoDak: “Rotten noise, rotten smell, and terrible waste” – LA Times
Here’s how Sports Illustrated got the Lebron James exclusive – Ad Age
A typical academic business journal article costs…$400k – Poets and Quants

Minnesota employers added 8,500 jobs in June

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: July 17, 2014 - 10:34 AM

Minnesota employers added 8,500 jobs in June, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

It was the second straight month of solid job growth after a slower-than-usual spring.

“We do continue to see new highs in employment, the number of unemployed Minnesotans continues to fall,” said Steve Hine, a state labor market economist. “We have good reason to anticipate that this growth will continue.”

May's gains, initially reported as 10,300, were revised downward to 7,200 jobs. But in the past 12 months, the state has added 53,779 jobs, a 1.9 percent annual growth rate, which matches the U.S. growth rate for that period.

The state unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 4.5 percent in June, down 0.6 percent from one year ago, mostly because the labor force participation rate in the state fell two-tenths of a percentage point. About 136,000 Minnesotans are unemployed. The U.S. unemployment rate in June was 6.1 percent.

Government led all sectors, adding 3,900 jobs in June, with all of the expansion in local government, evenly split between municipal governments and public schools, Hine said.

“Perhaps that’s a sign that fiscal constraints that impeded local government hiring have been lifting,” he said.

State and federal government hiring fell on the month. Education and health services added 3,500 jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities (up 2,200), financial activities (up 600), information (up 500), professional and business services, and logging and mining all added jobs.

Manufacturing lost 900 jobs, while leisure and hospitality and construction were down slightly. Construction's gains in May were also revised downward, but the trend for that industry is still quite good, Hine said.

“Construction certainly is continuing to do well,” Hine said. “I’m not too concerned about the one-month pause.”

The state's metropolitan statistical areas have all added jobs over the past 12 months, some faster than others. St. Cloud is up 2.8 percent, Minneapolis-St. Paul is up 1.8 percent, Mankato is up 1.6 percent, Rochester is up 0.4 percent and Duluth-Superior is up 0.3 percent.

Funding for young life science firms in Minnesota rises in second quarter

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics, Minnesota entrepreneurs, Minnesota innovation, Minnesota technology Updated: July 16, 2014 - 2:56 PM

The folks at LifeScience Alley have embarked on an admirable project, trying to quantify the amount of investment in health and medical device companies Minnesota each quarter.
Their data for the second quarter of 2014 shows that investment in diagnostics, medical device, health IT, pharmaceuticals and other healthcare firms rose 65 percent compared to a year earlier, and 46 percent compared to the first quarter. That includes venture capital, angel funding and investment in small firms by large companies. 

More than half of the 34 companies raising money are in non-medical device industries, but medical device firms accounted for the lion’s share of the dollars.

The medical device numbers were driven by major deals at Plymouth-based Holaira, which raised $42 million to pave the way for a European clinical trial of the company’s catheter-based system to treat obstructive lung disease, and Maple Grove-based Inspire Medical, which raised $40 million to commercialize its sleep apnea therapy.

However, 71 percent of the deals in the second quarter were under $1 million, according to LifeScience Alley.

Fast-growing St. Paul firm ThisCLICKS bags marketing VP from Silicon Valley

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends, Economics Updated: July 16, 2014 - 1:29 PM

ThisCLICKS, a company with about 30 employees in St. Paul, has hired a new VP of marketing out of Silicon Valley.

The firm, which sells user-friendly software that allows small businesses to manage scheduling and payroll, has grown revenue by double digits month-over-month for the past 18 months, CEO Chad Halvorson said. 

The company's software is used by more than 5,000 companies representing more than 250,000 employees worldwide — including the Atlanta Braves, SoundCloud, the Columbus Zoo and UPS Store. In January, thisCLICKS received $4 million in funding from its first outside investors.

It also moved into new offices in the Drake Building across the river from downtown St. Paul. At an event in June, Mayor Chris Coleman looked on while CEO Chad Halvorson crushed an old-fashioned time clock with a sledge hammer on the patio outside the building.

The company is part of a small but growing group of technology companies in St. Paul that are hiring, a group that includes GovDelivery.

The new VP of marketing will be Sujan Patel, who helped lead strategy for companies like TurboTax, SlideShare and Salesforce. He joins thisClicks from San Francisco-based startup Bridge US.

“What we’re building in Minnesota is an incredible company that solves a huge business problem for a commonly overlooked market. Great ideas and great execution can happen anywhere — not just on the coasts,” said Chad Halvorson, CEO of thisCLICKS, in a statement. “Sujan is a great combination. He’s deeply skilled in marketing and committed to our vision — as anyone who enthusiastically leaves sunny California for Minnesota winters would have to be."

Opening Belz, July 16

Posted by: Adam Belz under Business trends Updated: July 16, 2014 - 10:03 AM

Fed’s Yellen opens door to rate hike – WSJ
3M pays $885 million to buy out Japanese partner – StarTribune
Chicago investors flock to Madison startups – Journal Sentinel
Minnesota sweats road projects tied to federal funds – StarTribune
The decline of an American furniture maker – New Yorker
Germany’s mid-sized manufacturers start to get some celebrity – Economist
Illinois company to move 475 employees to Wisconsin – Milwaukee Business Journal
Desperate-sounding Comcast rep hassles customer for long time – StarTribune
140 Google interview questions – Impact Interview
How Germany and SAP used data to play better soccer – WSJ


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