Chad Germann, owner of Red Circle Ad Agency and a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, is planning to lend a powerful creative voice to the protesters outside TCF Bank Stadium today who want the Washington Redskins football team to change the nickname that many consider a racial slur.

A broadcast ad called “No Honor in Racism” created by the 30-person Minneapolis agency features men and women who use derogatory terms to describe their race or ethnicity. The actual descriptive words are bleeped out. But not the words “I am a Redskin,” spoken by an Indian man.

“This is wrong,” said Germann. “There is no word in the American lexicon that is more hurtful to the Native American.”

The Federal Communications Commission is considering adding “redskin” to its list of banned racial slurs on broadcasts. The Washington team has refused to change the name, citing tradition.

Germann said he’s looking for a client partner to underwrite the ad for TV. For now, it’s only on YouTube at

Track maintenance redirects some Minnesota oil trains

More oil trains from North Dakota are passing through western Minnesota. And slightly fewer are going through the Twin Cities, according to a traffic update BNSF Railway filed with the state Public Safety Department.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the railroad submits an update if volume goes up or down by 25 percent. “In this case, the update was related to maintenance activity,” she said by e-mail.

Overall, BNSF tanker trains loaded with 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil arrived in Moorhead, Minn., at a rate of 37 to 52 per week in late September. That’s up from 32 to 43 trains per week in early June, when the railroad filed its first oil train report.

But the new report obtained by the Star Tribune reveals that more oil trains are heading south from Moorhead along BNSF tracks through 12 counties near the state’s western border. The traffic count was eight to 13 weekly oil trains in the most recent period, compared with zero to nine reported in June. Up to three weekly oil trains head westbound out of the Twin Cities to Willmar, the report said.

That city, along with Granite Falls and Marshall, are seeing the traffic uptick — four to eight additional oil trains per week compared with June, according to the reports.

Even so, most crude oil shipments by rail — 29 to 39 trains per week — still take the BNSF main line that follows the Mississippi River into and out of the Twin Cities. It’s a reduction of two to three trains per week compared with June.

David Shaffer

More workers coming, but downtown vacancy rate may creep up

The Downtown Council projected recently enough incoming workers over the next year to easily surmount the loss of 1,150 TCF Financial employees to a consolidated campus in Plymouth in 2015.

Still, Russ Nelson, a founder of commercial real estate leasing firm NTH (formerly Nelson, Tietz & Hoye), doesn’t think we’ll see any new office buildings built on speculation soon because there’s still ample space and most of the downtown construction is for build-to-suit projects for existing employers.

The TCF job loss alone should be offset through the arrival of smaller companies such as Aimia (formerly Carlson Marketing), the National Bone Marrow Project, Weber Shandwick and Calabrio. They will bring 1,400-plus employees to downtown and the North Loop. Around 150,000 people work downtown.

Existing employers, such as Wells Fargo, Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy, Valspar and Be the Match are building their own buildings, or refurbishing existing space. That’s going to free some existing square footage. Meanwhile, Nelson pointed out that existing tenants such as the Dorsey & Whitney law firm at 50 S. 6th St., and others, are consolidating operations in existing or new space.

Nelson estimates that the vacancy rate for newer Class A space at about 10 percent and an overall office vacancy rate of about 13 percent. And the rate may increase before it declines, he said, largely because of Wells Fargo consolidating downtown operations in two new buildings in Downtown East. Much of the construction downtown is for the residential market, the council forecasts to grow from 38,000 residents to 70,000 by 2025.

MHTA has a busy fall

The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) staged a Minneapolis venture finance conference with aplomb after acquiring the Midwest’s largest single bazaar for emerging companies and financiers from the Collaborative. Collaborative CEO Dan Carr, who is moving on after 27 years, consulted during the transition, said CEO Margaret Anderson Kelliher of the MHTA.

The MHTA added some big company presentations and increased the mix of small to large company presentations.

“This was a good transition year,” Kelliher said. “There was a number of large companies, including Mayo Clinic, Cargill, Proto Labs and Ecolabs, Digital River … interested in connecting with other Minnesota companies. This is a priority of our board. We want to go from about 300 to 400 registered attendees at next year’s conference. We have a good partnership on the conference with the Minnesota Venture Capital Association. We want to create a larger, more diverse and prosperous ecosystem for the science and technology sectors.”

Next up: the MHTA’s 15th annual Tekne Awards on Nov. 13 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Finalists include:

• 3M, H.B. Fuller and T3 Scientific of Blaine for the Advanced Manufacturing Award that honors increased manufacturing speed and accuracy while minimizing environmental impact.

• Ecolab, Garden Fresh Foods of Maplewood and Feedlogic of Willmar, Minn., for the Agriculture and Food Award that honors enhanced productivity, efficiency, safety and environmental sustainability.

• Minnesota Community Solar, RA Knowledge and Ecolab for the Energy Award.

• Genesis 10 and Minneapolis Community and Technical College for the Workforce Development Award.

Tech Dump expands to historic Midway building

Tech Dump, the collector of business and consumer electronics, has expanded from its flagship Golden Valley facility to St. Paul’s Midway in pursuit of refurbishing or recycling more than 5.5 million pounds of electronics in 2015. Coincidentally, the 31,000-square foot building at 698 Prior Av., once was the home of Engineering Research Associates. ERA, founded in 1946, was a pioneer of the Minnesota computer industry. It spawned computer outfits, including Control Data, Sperry Univac, Network Systems and Cray Research. Tech Dump plans to train and employ an additional 150 people by 2017, some of them former offenders, through its job training programs. More information: