Minneapolis-based Meda (Metropolitan Economic Development Association), the expanding nonprofit adviser and financier to minority entrepreneurs, was named the top-performing such agency among the nation’s 44 Minority Business Development Agency Business Centers in fiscal 2017.

Meda’s services include consulting, financing solutions and corporate and government contracts and funding opportunities. Meda, which also won in 2016, outscored other business centers for overall performance, including job creation, financing, contracts and exports. Meda, with 145 borrowers, boasts a growing loan fund that should hit $17.5 million soon, thanks to investments by banks, corporations, foundations and others.

Meda works with companies to grow and hand them off to commercial bankers.

The agency, which is moving early next year into expanded lease space in the new Thor Cos. headquarters in north Minneapolis, said it helped create and retain more than 1,400 jobs in the Twin Cities this year.

“This national recognition confirms the impact of Meda services, and [our] ability to fuel Minnesota’s economic growth by opening doors for minority entrepreneurs,” CEO Gary Cunningham said in a statement. “We share this honor with our many deserving partners and employees, including the greater business community and state of Minnesota.”

The 2012 economic census showed minority-owned business is the fastest-growing segment of Minnesota’s economy. From 2007- 2012, the number of minority businesses grew by 33 percent, compared to 3 percent for nonminority firms, according to Commerce. Minority businesses increased employment at a greater rate than nonminority businesses as well.

However, minority businesses typically have the hardest time raising capital because of low credit scores, lack of savings and other issues, according to a recent study by the Federal Reserve.

CEO Jashan Eison, co-owner of H&B Elevators, turned to Meda in 2012 to help him and his partner, both employees, buy the elevator manufacturer from a former owner, Kraus-Anderson Construction. The north Minneapolis company has doubled in size to $10 million in sales and 50-plus employees.

Neal St. Anthony

New Patterson CEO rings opening bell on Wall Street

New Patterson Cos. CEO Mark Walchirk last week recognized some valuable employees at the Nasdaq Opening Bell ceremony.

Nasdaq invited the Mendota Heights firm to ring the opening bell Tuesday to commemorate 140 years in business and 25 years as a public company.

Patterson, a product distributor to animal health and dental markets, brought 15 employees to the ceremony who were nominated by co-workers. A company spokesperson said 400 people were nominated from a broad cross-section of business groups and regions.

The 15 winners flew into New York on Monday and attended a welcome dinner with Walchirk and other executives. After the Opening Bell ceremony, the Patterson crew were to spend a little time in New York together and attend a show before flying back home.

Walchirk, named CEO in October, was most recently president of McKesson Corp.’s U.S. pharmaceuticals business. He was hired to replace the departed Scott Anderson and to relieve Jim Wiltz, who served as interim CEO while the board searched for a new CEO.

Walchirk plans to spend his first 90 days meeting customers and employees and studying Patterson’s business model. Despite slack performance of its stock price recently, since going public in 1992, Patterson posted a total return of more than 2,000 percent, or total annualized return of 12.8 percent.

Patrick Kennedy

Real estate retiree Russ Nelson will continue to volunteer

Russ Nelson’s friends, colleagues and clients filled the main dining room of the Minneapolis Club recently to mark the retirement of this high-profile real estate adviser. Nelson, 70, co-founded the advisory firm now known as NTH Inc.

He was lauded as much for volunteer work as his day job. The list was so long that St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman decided to skip to the end of his proclamation and declare it Russ Nelson Day. It included Nelson’s work with the Como Friends that supports the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory and the St. Paul Public Schools Foundation. Nelson promised his family that he would not take on another volunteer assignment for at least six months as he eases into retirement.

He also shared the kind of opportunity that he would consider.

The next project must have a mission he’s personally passionate about, and it must be intellectually stimulating. And the project has to be something that makes life in the Twin Cities [a little] better. Finally, it must be a project that lets Nelson work with younger people.

If a project that meets all of these requirements comes to mind, drop a note in the calendar for some time around next Memorial Day.

A few clicks of the mouse on Google is all it’ll take to track Nelson down.

Lee Schafer