Growing Turck honored by German chamber

Don Keysser, of Hannover Consulting and president of the German American Chamber of Commerce, reports that the local operation of Germany’s Turck Inc. has been named company of the year by the local German American chamber.

Founded in 1965 in Germany by the Turck family (still the principal owners of the company), Turck is a leading manufacturer of industrial automation products and solutions. There are 4,000 employees in 27 countries, including a significant presence at its U.S. hub in Plymouth.

Turck, under U.S. CEO David Lagerstrom, has 570 local employees, an increase of about 200 people since 2012. The firm spent several million dollars on a 50,000-square-foot expansion of the Plymouth plant four years ago.

Keysser said Turck, in addition to its manufacturing prowess and growth, was recognized for a “strong skills-training component, an exceptionally low employee turnover rate, an onsite health clinic in partnership with HealthPartners, and a focus on environmentally friendly manufacturing and recycling processes.”

The German American chamber presented the award to Lagerstrom at a dinner Saturday night.


Health CARE

Employers don’t back away from Obamacare

The federal Affordable Care Act includes penalties for large employers that don’t offer quality health insurance coverage.

So, passage of the law raised what came to be known as the “pay-or-play” question.

Would employers simply “pay” the fine and opt out? Or would they continue to “play” the health insurance game?

A report this month from the consulting firm Mercer is the latest to suggest the answer for most is: play.

In a write-up of its annual survey of employer-sponsored health plans, Mercer said that survey results have consistently shown a commitment by large employers to keep offering health insurance benefits. It was a different story with small employers, but Mercer says even that is starting to change.

“Only 7 percent of employers with 50-499 employees now say they are likely to drop their plans within the next five years, down from 21 percent in 2013,” the report states. “Among employers with 500 or more employees, just 5 percent say they are likely to drop their plans, essentially unchanged from 4 percent in 2014.”


Minority hiring

Seward Co-op recognized as diverse employer

Forty-four-year-old Seward Community Co-op was named employer of the year by the nonprofit job placement agency HIRED. Seward is lauded for its success in recruiting a workforce for its new south Minneapolis grocery store that is nearly two-thirds people of color.

The co-op’s Friendship Store, which is exceeding sales expectations after opening last fall at E. 38th Street and 3rd Avenue S. in a job-hungry neighborhood that lacked a grocery store, boasts 93 workers, 63 percent of whom are Latinos, blacks and other minorities. The goal was one-third employees of color by 2018.

Co-op marketing manager Tom Vogel said the store couldn’t have done it without HIRED’s help. HIRED trains dislocated and other skills-lacking workers for jobs in manufacturing, retail and office work.

Seward staffers started an intense project last year to not only bring healthy foods to the neighborhood, but also to address food pricing and neighborhood hiring and to make sure that its staff and ownership reflected the composition of its new neighborhood. Today, the store has 1,700 new “owners,” who buy membership shares in the co-op.

Jobs at the new store, which cost nearly $15 million to develop and build, pay a minimum of $12.82 per hour plus some benefits.

Overall, the co-op, based on E. Franklin Avenue about 3 miles away, has nearly 400 employees in its several businesses, more than a third of whom are minorities.

Dee DePass

On to Washington

DeAnna Cummings builds art, economy

For 20-plus years, CEO DeAnna Dodds Cummings, co-founder of Juxtaposition Arts on lower W. Broadway in north Minneapolis, has proved that art also is good economic development. Her growing enterprise restored what is now four once-dilapidated buildings that employ 100 full- and part-time artists and other workers and that engage 1,800 young people in arts education and projects annually.

Cummings, who earned a master’s degree from Harvard University, has been selected to be a fellow at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management in Washington, D.C., one of 13 executives from six countries chosen from more than 450 applicants.

Under Cummings, Juxtaposition Arts shifted from an after-school enrichment model to a social enterprise that trains and employs young people as a springboard to higher education and careers in art and design.