The Minnesota Cup competition is collaborating with the Minneapolis-based Cleantech Open North Central Region to waive certain fees and add incentives to attract applicants for the energy-and-clean-tech divisions of both entrepreneurial competitions.

“Clean Tech Open is a really great national competition and then we launched the Minnesota Cup clean-tech division and [some] participants thought of it as an ‘either-or’ ­situation,” said Scott Litman, co-founder of Minnesota Cup. “We do not view Minnesota Cup and Cleantech Open as competing programs, rather another way for entrepreneurs to develop valuable partners and gain access to capital. We’ve been collaborating for the past three years and now we’ve made it a formal partnership.”

Cleantech Open is similar to Minnesota Cup in offering prizes and consulting to entrepreneurs with energy and environmental solutions. Minnesota Cup is a statewide competition and Cleantech Open is a national business-­development program that starts with regional competitions. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to enter both by the respective sponsors.

Minnesota residents have until May 17 to submit entries to the six-category Minnesota Cup to compete for $200,000 in prize money. Last year’s high-tech category and grand prize winner, PreciouStatus, has raised more than $1.5 million in capital so far, thanks partly to experienced business mentors related to the cup competition, said CEO Julie Gilbert-Newrai.

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kilowatt crackdown winners announced

The Building Owners and Managers Associations (BOMA) of Greater Minneapolis and Greater St. Paul and Xcel Energy have announced the winners of the second annual Kilowatt Crackdown contest. A total of 74 buildings installed high-efficiency lighting and bought higher-efficiency heating or cooling equipment. Xcel distributed $1 million in rebates. Gray Freshwater Center in Excelsior was the Minneapolis winner and HealthPartners/Gillette Specialty Center was the St. Paul winner. Highest-performing were Northland Plaza, U.S. Bancorp Center and the Gray Freshwater Center. The most valuable tenant award went to Thrivent Financial. Meanwhile, Trane, the heating-and-cooling equipment maker, named Country Financial of Arden Hills one of its “Energy Efficiency Leaders.” It invested about $250,000 in 2010 that the company expects to recoup through energy-and-maintenance savings by 2015.

Small business Award winners

Miguel and Maria Zagal opened their first Taqueria la Hacienda on E. Lake Street in 1999. Today, the couple operates three Taqueria restaurants, including a location in Burnsville, and employs 70-plus workers, offering traditional Mexican tacos to thousands of customers annually.

Recently, the Zagals were honored as the Twin Cities Small Business of the Year, by Neighborhood Development Center, the nonprofit business that has provided training, small loans and other assistance to 4,000 fledgling businesses that have been part of the commercial revival of core-city neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Other winners included Ha Tien Grocery owner Son Dso; Hmong House owners PaSee and Kay Yang; Foundations Health Career Academy owner Rachelle Simmons; A-1 Vacuum Cleaner Co. owners Russell and Mary Battisto, and Eco Hair Institute owner Denise Jarrett.


Horton, the Roseville-based airflow systems manufacturer, has exported to 20 new countries since 2011. U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez recently congratulated the company in a visit. President Obama in 2010 set a target of doubling U.S. exports by 2014. To meet the goal, they would have to rise 20 percent this year and another 20 percent next year. In 2012, they rose 4.3 percent.

“It’s a stretch goal,” Sanchez said, but “we can really move the dial if we have communities around the country that are pushing their own initiatives.” Gov. Mark Dayton announced in 2012 an initiative designed to double exports from the Twin Cities by 2017. That, too, would be a rosy projection. To reach that goal, businesses in the metro area would have to increase exports at the brisk pace of nearly 15 percent each year. Minnesota exports were up 7 percent in 2011, but growth had flattened by the end of 2012.

Adam Belz


Ted Mondale last week agreed to pay back $50,000 of a $150,000 personal loan made to him by convicted con artist Tom Petters. The court-appointed receiver charged with recovering for victims in the Petters Ponzi scheme said Mondale couldn’t afford full repayment. But Mondale may still owe the IRS. Tax lawyer Mark Sellner, who teaches at the University of St. Thomas, said: “When a $150,000 loan is settled for $50,000, the IRS taxes the excess $100,000 as discharge-of-indebtedness income.” Mondale makes $160,325 a year running the public agency overseeing the planned Vikings stadium.

Neal ST. Anthony