Female opinion leaders are less worried about the economy this year than in 2012 and want national political leaders who can compromise.

Every fall, the market researchers at Minneapolis-based Ginger Consulting poll 350 women between the ages of 21 to 65 from 10 metropolitan areas. Ginger has hand-picked “alpha” women for the poll: educated, informed, opinionated women who also drive 85 percent of household spending, and a big chunk of the economy.

In 2012, 70 percent of those women wanted a president who could steer the country to a better economy, said Mary Van Note, a Ginger co-founder. As the economy has grown and strengthened, that priority has fallen among the dozen or so choices those surveyed were given.

“They are feeling cautiously optimistic about the economy,” Van Note said. “And they know there are limits to what a president can do.”

The top priority (46 percent) for an “ideal president” is one who can compromise. The Ginger partners, who interpret consumer research for corporations, inferred from the results that a majority are tired of partisan fighting and inability to tackle big issues collaboratively.

“These are working women and moms and they understand the value of compromise and they are saying to the parties: get along and get some things done,” Van Note said. “They trade off and compromise in their lives, and they figure the people who run the country can do that.”

And a growing number, or about 60 percent, feel good enough about the economy to plan major purchases such as furniture and vacations.

“There are still some paying down debt and putting money in savings,” Van Note said. “We haven’t gone back to a [pre-recession] frothy period.”
Neal St. Anthony

GovDelivery teams up with Denver firm

Vista Equity Partners, the huge private equity firm that just bought St. Paul-based GovDelivery for $153 million, will merge it with a Denver-based company Vista owns that also serves governments with a different package of digital-communication services.

GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns, a founder of the 225-employee firm in 2001, said it won’t be known until next year if there will be a consolidated headquarters for the firm or if he or somebody else will run it. GovDelivery’s merger partner is Granicus, which provides services for 1,200 government organizations, including live webcasting of public meetings and video archives, agenda and legislative-management software, and online-feedback platforms for citizens.

GovDelivery projects revenue of $40 million-plus this year. Granicus is smaller.

“It’s good news for St. Paul,” Burns said. “Vista Equity is committed to grow across the offices.”

Burns said he expected the merger, under deep-pocketed Vista Equity, to benefit both growing companies, regardless of leadership and headquarters decisions to come. Vista Equity, with $26 billion invested, is one of the world’s bigger owners of technology companies.

The merger of GovDelivery and Granicus will create a combined entity that will serve more than 3,000 public customers at the local, state and federal levels.

The combined company will employ 375 workers and maintain offices in Denver, St. Paul, Washington and the U.K.
Neal St. Anthony

Three in Minnesota considered among best

Three Minnesota CEOs made the Harvard Business Review’s annual ranking of the top 100 CEOs in the world. They are Doug Baker Jr. of Ecolab (No. 41), Ken Powell of General Mills (71) and Jeff Ettinger of Hormel Foods (84).

There were 33 new CEOs on HBR’s list this year, including Ettinger and Powell. Baker made last year’s list at 98. HBR tries to measure objective results over the span of each CEO’s tenure as boss. HBR starts with the S&P Global 1200, eliminates CEOs with fewer than two years’ experience and any CEOs who have been arrested. That narrows the list to 895. On average, the CEOs on their list have been in their roles for 17 years. That is remarkable, since turnover among global CEOs was a record 17 percent in 2015, according to the HBR authors.

Baker joined Ecolab in 1989 and has been CEO since 2004; Ettinger has been with Hormel for more than 26 years and CEO since 2006; and Powell joined General Mills in 1979 and became CEO in 2007.

Each year the editors of HBR tweak their methodology after listening to readers and outside experts. In 2015 they added a component based on environment, social and governance measures (ESG). They integrated ESG ratings this year from prominent research firms Sustainalytics and CSRHub.

Financial metrics, which account for 80 percent of the ranking, include country-adjusted total shareholder return and change in market capitalization.
Patrick Kennedy