Exodus Lending, which launched two years ago from a Minneapolis Lutheran congregation as the first alternative to payday loans, has made its 100th loan, including to 41 working-poor borrowers who were refinanced from the “payday loan debt trap” and repaid in full.

“We had no idea the program would grow this big and help so many people,” said Exodus co-founder Meghan Olsen Biebighauser. She estimates it has saved borrowers who were paying an average of 425 percent in annualized interest nearly $300,000 in fees and interest on nearly $70,000 in principal. “We’re disrupting a system of wealth extraction from our community.”

Industry researchers estimate 23,000 storefront payday lenders operate nationwide, not including numerous licensed and illegal online lenders.

The industry boomed after the Great Recession when working-class borrowers lost jobs or had their hours cut.

In Minnesota, the number of legal payday loans taken through licensed lenders more than doubled between 2006 and 2012, to 371,000, according to a study of Department of Commerce data by the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition.

Minnesota borrowers took an average of 10 loans per year, paying an effective annual interest rate between 391 percent and 1,000 percent.

St. Paul-based Sunrise Banks working with Lutheran Social Service and watched by state and federal regulators, also has introduced TrueConnect payroll deduction loans that enable a growing number of employers to offer 12-month loans repaid through payroll deductions.

Neal St. Anthony

Delaware North hires for Twins home games

As the Twins and other pro baseball teams are readying for spring, the search for workers at games at Target Field has kicked into high gear.

Delaware North Sportservice, the firm that manages many of the part-time stadium workers for the Twins, is seeking cashiers and cashier leads for concession stands. It has supervisor, bartender, server, busser and food prep jobs available. Behind the scenes, it has warehouse porters and stockers jobs to fill. And in the stadium stores, it has openings for retail cashiers and sales clerks.

Delaware North needs 300 people per game, though the precise number varies based on fan attendance. But because it is a flexible job, meaning employees sign up for dates they will work, the firm needs a substantially larger pool at the ready. Last spring, the company was strained in hiring enough people locally and turned to busing in workers from Wisconsin and Illinois for some of the early games.

To avoid a repeat of that situation, Pete Spike, district manager for Delaware North, said the company doubled the number of job fairs and arranged more of them away from the ballpark to expand its reach. “We’re optimistic that we’re going to be in a better position this year,” Spike said.

The remaining job fairs ahead of the Twins opener on April 3: Tuesday, Target Field 4-8 p.m.; Wednesday, Sabathani Community Center 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Thursday, Target Field 4-8 p.m.; Friday, Target Field 4-8 p.m.; Feb. 21, Summit Academy 2-6 p.m.; Feb. 23, Summit Academy 2-6 p.m.; March 8, March 15 and March 22, Sabathani, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Evan Ramstad

Blue Cross hires former Hearken Health CEO

Tom Vanderheyden, the executive who launched UnitedHealthcare’s “start-up” insurer called Hearken Health, has landed a job with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

The Eagan-based insurer announced that Vanderheyden is joining the senior leadership team as president of diversified business.

He will oversee strategies for expanding diversified business investments, bringing new health care product to market and commercializing existing services, according to a news release from Blue Cross.

In September, the Star Tribune reported that Vanderheyden no longer held the CEO job at Hearken Health, a pilot project from UnitedHealthcare that combines coverage with easy access to primary care at company-owned clinics.

Hearken Health focused on selling coverage to individuals in Chicago and Atlanta, but the markets have been rocked by changes with the federal Affordable Care Act. Several insurers, including Hearken and Minnetonka-based UnitedHealthcare, have seen plenty of red ink in the individual market under the federal health law.

Before his work at Hearken, Vanderheyden held several leadership positions at parent company UnitedHealth Group.

“Tom’s record of accelerating business growth and identifying new ways to deliver health care made him the right leader to complement and supplement the health plan products that we have been offering to Minnesotans for more than 80 years,” said Michael Guyette, the Blue Cross chief executive, in a statement.

In December, the Star Tribune reported that Hearken would leave new government-run exchanges in Chicago and Atlanta, and shift focus to the employer group market.

Christopher Snowbeck