Business is brewing at Dunn Brothers Coffee, the Minneapolis-based coffee shop with 86 locations, mostly operated by Minnesota franchisees.

“Our comparable-store sales system wide are up 7 to 8 percent,” said co-CEO Chris Eilers, who started with a single store nearly 30 years ago. “For us, this will be the best year since the [2008-09] recession.

“We’ve hired a few people in the corporate office in marketing and operations and are at 20 employees. Our small-business owners, the franchisees, are happy to hire, if they can find people. It’s a battle to find good people.”

Dunn Brothers dovetails with a warming Minnesota economy in which 47 percent of the state’s employers expect to add workers over the next year, according to this year’s Business Barometer survey released Thursday by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Himle Rapp & Co. public affairs firm.

“Minnesota employers are pleased with the performance of today’s economy,” the chamber said in a prepared statement on the annual survey of 350 Minnesota businesses of at least five employees. “But they warn that the state’s high costs of doing business — if left uncurbed — could slow additional growth.”

At the chamber’s annual meeting in Brooklyn Park on Thursday, panels warned of threats to the business climate.

“It’s a great place to be in business,” said Doug Loon, the Minnesota chamber’s new president. “But look behind the headlines and you will see reasons for concern.”

Taxes on business property and levies on estates and firms that organize as subchapters and other corporate entities make Minnesota less competitive than other states, said participants on a tax panel.

“When we make promises of free stuff paid for by somebody else … our clients get sick of that,” said William Horn, an estate tax lawyer.

Another panel focused on mandates that would force employers to provide benefits like paid sick leave and more predictable schedules. The panel was energetic about beating back efforts to bring these to Minneapolis.

Those concerns aside, the state economy is growing faster than the nation’s, and unemployment is about 4 percent, about a full percentage point better than the nation and near full employment.

“We speak to candidates who have two-to-three interviews or opportunities at once,” said Sally Mainquist, owner of Veritae Group, a Twin Cities placement agency for financial professionals.


Staff writer Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.