How can you get anything done with government now days? The best people to help navigate through regulatory and government requirements include experts on city government, the area’s most active lobbyists, and elected officials who, at least up to now, appeared to be business friendly.
Experts on Navigating City Government for Real Estate Development
Vice president of development, North Central Region
Ryan Companies, Inc.
Among Collins’ many redevelopment successes, the huge Midtown Exchange project stands out. The revamping of the mammoth Sears building in Minneapolis into retail, residential, parking, and office space (for Allina’s headquarters) required extraordinary coordination on a tight deadline, particularly among the numerous state, county, and city funding sources that all had to sign off. Collins has taken the time to form relationships with various commissioners, politicians, and bureaucrats involved in development oversight, and they view him as an ally.
Fredrikson & Byron, PA
After a long tenure at Larkin Hoffman, Fisher was recruited by Fredrikson & Byron to enhance its land-use practice. Her highly regarded work on land-use approvals and her extensive experience in wetlands permitting serve her clients well. Perhaps her biggest and most complicated project (it went on for years) was a petroleum pipeline for the Canadian company Enbridge that required permitting in multiple states and Canada. Locally, she’s shepherded the government approvals for the five-tower Normandale Lake Office Park in Bloomington.
Faegre Baker Daniels
Herman’s clients are responsible for some of the most-talked-about local real estate developments: the Cargill headquarters, Block E, Cowles Center for Dance, the Hotel Ivy, among many others. He has guided residential, historical, industrial, and cultural projects through bond financing, permitting, and environmental approvals. Herman’s success as a lobbyist (for example, he worked for the Minnesota Wild on the Xcel Energy Center project) means he’s called on to help with big, sophisticated projects that are politically controversial.
Most Active Lobbyists
Almeida Public Affairs
Whether it’s working for a top public company, a trade association, a small to midsize business, or a nonprofit, attorney Almeida and her team are considered some of the most savvy, broadly connected lobbyists in the state, particularly on taxation and revenue issues. She helps develop relationships, handle media, and build coalitions in support of client issues. Among the organizations her firm has represented are Medtronic, Minnesota Public Radio, and Anheuser-Busch/InBev. What’s more, Michelle Obama’s staff often has tapped Almeida to help plan and execute all the logistics of the First Lady’s events.
Bagley should be able to take a bit of a breather after several intense years directing the team’s efforts at the state Capitol to get a new stadium deal. Now that the deal’s done, we wonder what’s next for arguably the most high-profile lobbyist in the state. We media types have dug his accessibility, by the way.
Cook Girard Associates
Longtime lobbyist Cook has developed a rep for representing clients on tax, business regulation and health care issues, helping them have access to State Capitol players on a variety of regulation and legislation matters. She emphasizes a bipartisan approach—not easy to manage these days. 3M, Thrivent, and HealthPartners are among the notable companies that have tapped her services.
Lockridge Grindal Nauen
The head of government relations for this politically well-connected Minneapolis law firm (primarily on the DFL side), Grindal is known as a congenial gentleman and an effective voice for his clients, which tend to be health organizations and tribal governments. Among his notable wins: leading the lobbying effort to pass the 2007 Freedom to Breathe provisions, which prohibit smoking in businesses, bars, and restaurants.
Winthrop & Weinstine
Knapp has been a fixture on the legal and governmental landscape since working for the Minnesota Legislature as an assistant revisor of statutes in the mid-1970s. He has represented clients on business and regulatory issues, particularly in the energy and insurance sectors. Knapp’s work has taken him not only before the Legislature but also several regulatory agencies, including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Public Utilities Commission. His Republican background has added to his influence among legislators.
Business Friends in Congress
Now ready to start her second term as senator, Klobuchar garnered plenty of support in the state’s business community. She has shown herself to be a Democrat who listens to Minnesota businesspeople and wants to protect their job-creating capabilities. Given the strength of her victory and her nonpartisan aura, expect her profile to rise in the Senate.
U.S. House of Representatives
Paulsen succeeded his former boss, Jim Ramstad, as representative of the Third District (which includes much of the affluent western suburbs) in 2009. He’s quickly built a solid rep in the Minnesota business community, particularly for his high-profile fight against a proposed tax on medical devices. He has also argued forcefully for federal debt reduction, coming across as calm and rational instead of loud and partisan.
Most Business-Friendly City Council Members
City of Minneapolis
True, Gary Schiff is by no means universally beloved by Minneapolis businesspeople, largely because of opposition to a tax-supported Vikings stadium. But he does deserve a shout-out for being the driving force behind loosening restrictions on breweries in the city. The result has been an explosion of craft brewing, which has arguably helped make Minneapolis more attractive to younger people. He’s also expressed a desire to simplify regulations that make it challenging for businesses to get started. And there’s talk that Schiff will pursue R. T. Rybak’s job, once the mayor decides to move on.
City of St. Paul
Pat Harris’ retirement from the St. Paul City Council in 2011 left many Capital City business leaders wondering who’d take his place as the person most likely to listen and respond to their concerns. That council member seems to be Chris Tolbert, who was elected last year to prosperous Ward 3, which includes the Ford plant—a focus of great interest for the business community (and others).
Most Business-Friendly State Legislators
First elected in 2002, Hoppe chaired the Minnesota House Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee; he also served as assistant majority leader. True, he lost those leadership positions this year when the DFL retook the House. Still, Hoppe ran unopposed in his southwest metro district this year, which bespeaks his strength in the district. He is one of the most respected state reps in the Minnesota business community, and despite the election results, one who remains well-positioned to boost that community.
Rosen has represented District 24 in southern Minnesota since 2003. Until the recent election, she was chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee and vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Though she has focused on rural issues during her career, Rosen is particularly well-regarded in the Twin Cities business community for her sponsorship of and tireless battling for the Minnesota Vikings stadium bill.