Minneapolis' North Loop, already the trendy choice for advertising and marketing firms, this month landed another such company — the quickly growing Latitude, which purchased an office condo in the brick-and-timber SoHo Lofts building.
The firm, headed by the husband-and-wife team of Jeremy and Krista Carroll, moved from Main Street SE. to the fourth floor of the building at 718 Washington Av. N. early in March. They bought the 17,471-square-foot space from its former owner, the information technology firm N'compass, for $1.55 million, according to Hennepin County property records.
The move puts Latitude squarely in the middle of the burgeoning creative services cluster in the North Loop, giving it what the Carrolls say will be a long-term player with a major difference — a brand marketing firm with a heavy emphasis on charitable giving aimed at helping impoverished women and children.
Latitude provides brand strategy, retail signs and high-end specialty printing services for such clients as Adidas, Captain Morgan rum, Ann Taylor, Converse, Chobani Greek yogurt, Minnetonka Moccasin and others. Company President Jeremy Carroll's roots in the printing business go back to his grandfather, who founded Diversified Graphics Inc. in northeast Minneapolis in 1949.
Its business model of combining high-quality design, advertising and interactive and print production with a Christian charitable-giving mission has resulted in a surge of work. In the five years since the Carrolls founded Latitude in New York and subsequently moved to Minneapolis, Latitude's employee count has jumped from three to 27 and now boasts revenue in the $17 million range.
More importantly, the firm has donated $1.5 million since 2009 to fight poverty in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, Honduras, India, Liberia and other poverty-stricken countries. Fifty percent of Latitude's profits are given over to such efforts.
"I loved [Diversified Graphics] and how all the employees were like family and were involved in the community," Carroll said. "My grandparents were great at sharing what they had with others, and so when we started Latitude, we wanted to find a way to re-create my grandfather's company in today's market.
"While he gave to support his community, we give to support our community, which today is the entire world."
Every Latitude employee gets the opportunity to serve in a developing country one week per year — Carroll himself recently returned from a sojourn to Nicaragua working with the nonprofit Opportunity International.
Clients are attracted to the model because their brands can be associated with the good works, CEO Krista Carroll said.
"Every year they get an annual report where we tell them exactly how many rescue missions they funded, how much clean water they delivered around the world, how many meals, how many kids were educated," she said. "They, in turn, get to use that information with their employees and consumer base."
As part of their mission, the Carrolls also say they intend to meet with other creative shops in the North Loop to help inspire them to take part in the charitable efforts through Wednesday morning coffee get-togethers.
"Jeremy and I have really set our lifestyle up around hospitality, both at home and at work," Krista Carroll said. "We love hosting people. We want to be hospitable not only to the community at large but in our own creative space."
For now, however, the firm is still busy settling into its new space.
Latitude originally was going to lease it from N'compass but those plans changed when the IT firm decided it wanted to sell the office condo. It included the work stations, which made it ready to go immediately.
Don Jacobson is a St. Paul-based freelance writer and former editor of the Minnesota Real Estate Journal.