Minnesota job growth has slowed as business owners struggle to find and retain workers this year, according to Grow Minnesota Partnership, the 17-year Minnesota Chamber of Commerce that helps businesses expand in their community and Minnesota.

Sean O’Neil of Grow Minnesota, said state job growth fell to 41st among all states in October. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the state added only 7,400 jobs in October.

And DEED reported Thursday that Minnesota lost 3,000 jobs in November and unemployment rate rose slightly, to 3.3%; albeit a historically low levels.

“It’s good news that demand and business confidence have remained steady,” said O’Neil of sentiment among small business owners. “That’s a tribute to Minnesota’s entrepreneurial spirit, given fears of a possible slowdown in our economy and the uncertainty in international trade relations.

“Sixty-three percent of businesses visited in the second and third quarters of 2019 project increased revenue in the coming year compared with 57% that reported revenue growth during the past year,” he said. “And 41% said they plan to add workers next year compared to 32% that added workers this year.”

O’Neil and other chamber representatives, including representatives of 90 local chambers, primarily in the Twin Cities, southeast, central and northeast parts of the state, made about 900 visits to businesses over the 12-month period that ended in September.

O’Neil noted that Minnesota total exports declined for the first time in 10 quarters. That’s tied to the Trump trade war that has hurt U.S. exports, as well as slower global growth.

Misco, a St. Paul-manufacturer of high-end industrial speakers, told the Star Tribune this month that it pays 25% tariffs on components it needs from China while competitors who import finished product from China only pay 15%.

Owner Dan Digre of 100-employee Misco, started by Digre’s dad after World War II as a radio-repair shop, said the recently announced “phase one’’ settlement with China, doesn’t ease his tariffs that have cut profit by 40%. He’s canceled expansion plans.

Grow Minnesota also reports that innovation in new technologies and products is enhancing businesses’ competitiveness.

Also, industries tied to construction, professional services and regional-national consumer markets are reporting the strongest growth.

This aligns with the state’s employment data that show construction employment grew 3.2% during the past year, trailing only leisure and hospitality.

Industries tied to agriculture, senior care and residences, and legacy products such as forestry products, publishing and telecommunications struggled in the face of low prices, wage pressures and changes in demand. Manufacturing held steady despite fears of a sectoral downturn.

Businesses complained of rising costs including shipping, supplies, wages and health insurance, and government-related expenses.

Neal St. Anthony

venture capital

Clinician Nexus raises $1.5 million

Minneapolis-based Clinician Nexus has raised $1.5 million in venture capital, bringing total investments to $2.3 million.

Led by Hyde Park Venture Partners, investors in the inaugural round of outside investment include Great North Labs and Sofia Fund.

Clinician Nexus has been adopted by 100 hospitals and 150 schools in the nation.

“Clinician Nexus allows clinical sites … and students to directly connect with one another, find the right fit, clarify expectations and eliminate surprises,” CEO Katrina Anderson said. “Historically, that process has been very cumbersome, inefficient and time-consuming. By offering access to a shared platform for students, facilities and schools, the process is vastly improved, more intuitive and lowers the margin for error in onboarding students. Our first customer has realized over 50 percent time savings onboarding students from over 150 schools. …

“With labor shortages projected to be 1.3 million for registered nurses, and 122,000 for physicians, over the next few decades, the quality and quantity of clinicians is critical to get right today.”

Neal St. Anthony

Deals

B2B platform firm Insite Software acquired

Episerver of New Hampshire has acquired Minneapolis-based Insite Software for an unspecified amount in a private transaction. Episerver also this month hired SAP software veteran Alex Atzberger as CEO and bought another software firm.

“These additions to the lineup strengthen Episerver’s already strong position,” Episerver Chairman Adam Berger said.

Insite Software, a provider of business-to-business commerce platforms for manufacturers and distributors, received an equity investment of $15 million from Volition Capital of Boston in 2015 and employs about 100 people.

Neal St. Anthony