Amid the Great Recession of 2009-2010, the Star Tribune and the Pennsylvania research firm WorkplaceDynamics last year set out to identify the Top 100 Workplaces in the Twin Cities. We found that good employers share similar traits that workers consider important, among them:

•Feeling ''genuinely appreciated.''

•Believing that the organization is "going in the right direction.''

•Having "confidence in the leader of the organization.''

George Glover, a guest services representative at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center, summed his up workplace this way: "Our property is considered a fun property; people are upbeat. I love it there. It's one of the best jobs I've had,'' said Glover, a 22-year employee of the Marriott, which ranked No. 1 last year among medium-sized companies.

Once again, the Star Tribune is working with WorkplaceDynamics to produce the Top 100 Workplaces publication for 2011. This year, we will expand our mission statewide, looking for the best places to work throughout Minnesota.

And it's time to get started on our 2011 survey.

If you know of a company that deserves to be considered for this year's Top Workplaces ranking, go here to nominate them . You can also call 612-605-3306

We need your help identifying those companies. We encourage individuals, employers or employees to nominate their companies and tell us what makes them great places to work. The survey must be submitted by Feb. 25. The results will be published online at startribune.com and in a special print section in June. Thanks in advance for your help.

Ridgeway files for bankruptcy

Longtime event choreographer Paul Ridgeway got his start as a college organizer for Democratic politicians in the early 1970s, at Carlson Companies in the 1980s, and then on his own to orchestrate Super Bowl extravaganzas and visits by foreign dignitaries.

Now he is staging a seven-figure bankruptcy.

Ridgeway conceded he was in financial trouble two years ago and plans to liquidate personal and business assets estimated at $1 million to settle creditor claims of $4.6 million, according to a recent filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minneapolis.

Ridgeway, who declined to be interviewed through his bankruptcy lawyer, Mark Ferkul, has been working as a part-time executive assistant for Ramsey County, earning $39.42 an hour, according to the filing.

That's a very good wage, but doesn't afford the lifestyle Ridgeway once led.

Among Ridgeway's dozens of creditors: Marilyn Carlson Nelson, the former CEO of Carlson Cos. who is owed $300,000, and Ridgewood pal Steve Schussler, the restaurant developer who is owed $50,000.

Ridgeway owes about $80,000 in past-due income taxes to the IRS, Minnesota and other states. He also owes several hundred thousand dollars in past-due wages to employees, including about $180,000 to two adult children who worked for Ridgeway International or one of several other Ridgeway companies listed in the filing.

U.S. Bank has foreclosed on mortgages worth about $1.07 million on Ridgeway's Minnetonka headquarters.

"We've tried to include every personal and business debt attached to him," Ferkul said. "Most of the debts are business debts. He guaranteed most of the [bank loans] personally." Ferkul said Ridgeway was doomed by the bad economy and a cutback in corporate outings and events.

As reported in 2009, Ridgeway was angering folks who said he was stiffing them, including photographers and caterers, and the Minneapolis Southwest High School football team that raised $11,000 parking cars at a golf tournament at Interlachen Country Club in Edina to help pay activity fees for low-income teammates.

"This is a very painful time," the normally effervescent Ridgeway said in a 2009 interview. "All of our vendors will be paid."

Ridgeway apparently was unable to refinance his growing debt after he lost the NFL Super Bowl contract several years ago. And he and his son, Paul Ridgeway Jr., were unable to capitalize a big-bang plan to convert a huge vacant building in Shakopee into an "Asian World Marketplace."

REPORTS OF RETIREMENT ARE PREMATURE

George Buckley has a lot of titles at 3M Co. - chairman, president, CEO. Apparently, he isn't in a hurry to add "emeritus" to any of them.

In an interview with Bloomberg at last week's Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Buckley said he wants to stay at the Maplewood-based giant as long as the board lets him. His current contract calls for him to continue leading the company and its board until he turns 65 in 2012. Buckley said that when he joined 3M in 2005 he set a goal of developing an internal successor.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported in December that Buckley would like to step down in 2011. A company spokeswoman called that report "factually incorrect."

Nicholas Heymann, an analyst at Stern, Agee & Leach, said his sources inside and outside 3M told him Buckley had no plans to leave early but that the company had been working to develop a solid transition plan.  

TURNING JAPANESE

Mary Murray spent years winning the confidence of a handful of Japanese artisans, and the Twin Cities entrepreneur now has been awarded exclusive rights in North America to import and sell their wares.

The five artisans use traditional methods passed down through generations, and their work has not been available in the United States until now, according to Murray.

The one-of-a-kind pieces include furniture, pottery and tapestries. While a Japanese cypress sideboard is on display at International Market Square in downtown Minneapolis, the collection won't be available for purchase until the Las Vegas Market home furnishings show Jan. 24 to 28.

Murray also plans to open a retail store, Modan Tansu, on Feb. 1 on Englewood Avenue in St. Louis Park to sell the furniture and home decor items.

CAMPBELL MITHUN GETS CREATIVE

Campbell Mithun last week announced the appointment of Heath Rudduck as its new chief creative officer as the Minneapolis agency continued to beef up its digital capabilities. Australian native Rudduck takes the top creative post at Campbell Mithun after serving as executive creative director at Digitas Boston where clients included Procter & Gamble, Aflac, Goodyear and post-bankrupt GMC and Buick.

The agency said Rudduck's hiring is its second move toward "a more digitally centric future." The first was the merger last summer with Minneapolis office of MRM Worldwide.

NEAL ST. ANTHONY, SUSAN FEYDER, JACKIE CROSBY, JOHN J. OSLUND, DAVID PHELPS