Training organization will form partnership with leadership group to round itself out

The Performance Excellence Network (PEN), formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality, and Good Leadership Enterprises will announce a partnership this week at PEN’s annual conference of 400 attendees. The undertaking is designed to round out PEN’s focus on quality-and-operational training programs with Good Leadership’s focus on developing the “soft skills” of leadership.

PEN’s Brian Lassiter has long said the human side is where most managements stumble.

“We call the softer side goodness and it comes from a culture of encouragement,” said Paul Batz, CEO of Good Leadership and a veteran management coach. “We’ve never seen anybody build an organization based on fear or intimidation. A culture of encouragement equals excellence, generosity, fairness and positivity. And that creates employee engagement.”

Nearly half of Good Leadership’s clients say “positivity” in the workplace is the most difficult thing to sustain, Batz added.

“Our program hard wires these skills into an organization’s culture, making them tangible, teachable and measurable.”

PEN will hold several “Good Leadership Immersion Day” workshops around the state this year, including June 2 at Normandale Community College in Bloomington. More information is at


Business competitions

Minnesota Cup program adds new twists

The free-to-enter Minnesota Cup has a few new wrinkles as it launches its 12th annual program to assist and accelerate fledgling outfits through planning, consultation and otherwise.

Participants have until May 6 to apply for a chance to compete for a share of a record $400,000 in prize money.

Cup director Melissa Kjolsing said this year’s new twists include the Carlson Family Foundation awarding $25,000 for the top woman-led business and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation providing $25,000 in seed funding to the top entry from that region. MEDA, the business consultant and financier to minority-led small businesses, will award $10,000 to the minority entrepreneur with the most innovative business concept. Also, there will be a youth division, in partnership with Junior Achievement, that will award $20,000 in prize money.

Minnesota Cup targets entrepreneurs, inventors and small-business owners working on the next innovative new venture, or businesses generating less than $1 million in yearly revenue that want to get to the next stage. The 2016 divisions include: energy/clean tech/water, food/agriculture/beverage, general, high tech, life science/health IT, social entrepreneur and student.

The competition culminates in an awards ceremony on Sept. 22 at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center.

Last year’s grand prize winner, Astropad, maker of a graphics tool for the iPhone and iPad, was selected from nearly 1,300 participants. More than two dozen businesses, law firms, investment outfits and other organizations sponsor Minnesota Cup.

More information:


Minnesota energy

Alternative energy grew sharply over 10 years

Minnesota generated 21 percent of its electricity from renewable energy in 2015, up from 6 percent a decade ago, putting the state well on pace to exceed its “renewable energy standard” of 25 percent by 2025, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Renewable energy includes wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

In 2007, Minnesota adopted the Next Generation Energy Act, which established renewable energy standards. It requires the state to get 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025. And 1.5 percent of Minnesota’s electricity will come from solar by 2020; 10 percent by 2030.

Last year’s action by Congress to extend federal wind and solar tax incentives for five years will add further momentum to renewable energy growth, advocates project.

According to 2015 year-end figures compiled by Commerce and the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 17 percent of the state’s electricity was generated by wind energy, compared with 3 percent in 2005.

Meanwhile, coal-fired electricity dropped from 62 percent in 2005 to 44 percent in 2015.