The first big downtown deal of 2014 is nearing, fresh off news that Minneapolis issued a record $1.2 billion in building permits in 2013, the second billion-dollar year in a row.
United Properties has exercised its option to acquire the Shapco Printing building. United plans a seven-story office in the shadow of Target Field in the Warehouse District for the National Marrow Donor Program. The parties aren’t disclosing the purchase price and construction cost. Trade buzz puts the deal at nearly $60 million.
Bill Katter, a senior executive with United Properties, said the nonprofit National Marrow Donor Program, the folks behind the “Be the Match” campaign to combat blood cancers, will expand from 175,000 square feet in two leased buildings in northeast Minneapolis to 240,000 square feet in the new digs. This means about 900 jobs will be added downtown by the time the building, at 5th Street and 6th Avenue N., opens in a couple of years.
“The National Marrow Donor Program is growing, and they like that the location is near the light-rail transit line and Target Field,” Katter said. “They are in the business of identifying potential donors. And there are millions of people every year who visit that area.”
An increasing number of patients can benefit from a bone-marrow transplant. However, more than 70 percent of patients don’t have a matching donor in the family, according to Dr. Jeffrey Chell, CEO of National Marrow. It researches life-threatening blood and marrow cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, trains health professionals and manages the world’s largest registry of potential marrow donors.
Joel Shapiro, the boss at Shapco, will move the 38-year-old printing company and its 140 employees to leased space in Golden Valley. “We need more room, and we’ll be adding equipment,” Shapiro said.
Cathy Polasky, director of economic development for Minneapolis, said the city has obtained more than $1 million in grants for ground-pollution cleanup around the North Loop site.
Three Investment funds back software company ThisCLICKS of St. Paul
ThisClicks, a mobile-technology company that specializes in labor-management software and which was a division winner in last fall’s Minnesota Cup business competition, has received $4 million in its initial round of funding from outside ventures. The investors are E.ventures of San Francisco, Greycroft Partners in New York and Fargo-based Arthur Ventures.
ThisClicks, near downtown St. Paul, offers two mobile business software products that cover work schedules, communications, attendance and payroll, and are aimed at businesses with hourly employees.
ThisClicks, founded in 2010, says it has experienced double-digit growth each month over the past year. The company went from about 800 to 3,000 customers (including the UPS Store, Aspen Snowmass, 1-800-GOT-JUNK and SoundCloud), representing a total of 200,000 employees, are already using the company’s “When I Work” and “WageBase” programs, in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia.
“Almost 60 percent of the American workforce is an hourly employee and many small businesses need a better way to schedule and communicate with those workers,” said ThisClicks CEO Chad Halvorson, 31, who previously ran a digital marketing firm. “Business software should be easier, smarter, more refined and focused like a laser on the end-user — with just five minutes to get started, not a painful five months. That’s why [the programs are] already proving a success with everyone from restaurants to health care to amusement parks.
“We were profitable last year and now we’re going to reinvest in the company, probably dip into the red for awhile as we ramp things up.”
Halvorson said the funding will mean expanding from 11 to 15 employees, faster product development and attracting more clients. Local customers include Dunn Bros., MyBurger and Yogurt Lab.
• Donna Brazile, the political commentator and strategist, will deliver the keynote speech at the 24th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 20, sponsored by General Mills and the United Negro College Fund at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Tickets are available at MLKBreakfast.com. The event will be broadcast on Twin Cities Public TV at 8 a.m.
“The General Mills Foundation and UNCF will welcome 2,000 guests to the Minneapolis Convention Center and thousands more through television to honor Dr. King and celebrate the crucial role education plays in achieving the dream he had for all of us,” said Tiffanie Boyd, chair of the 2014 King holiday breakfast committee and a human resources vice president at General Mills.