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Small-Business Success Stories 2011
R.T. Rybak: Shoring Up the Foundation
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak explores his decade in office in an exclusive Q&A with editor Dale Kurschner.
Turning Around Imation
Changes that go to its very core appear to hold the greatest promise yet for this struggling 3M spin-off.
Best Buy Unable to Fill Some Holiday Orders
The retailer has reportedly informed an undisclosed number of customers that, due to overwhelming demand, their orders from BestBuy.com will not be filled in time for Christmas.
Beyond the Smiling Billboard
Health care providers should take better care of their marketing, Chris Bevolo says.
Former Bixby Leader Indicted on Fraud Charges
Bob Walker stands accused of raising $43 million from about 1,800 investors while lying to them about compensation received by company officers, misstating the capability of the company's alternative energy technologies, and falsely leading them to believe that he planned to take the company public.
Software developer Warecorp unites offshoring with a social entrepreneurial focus.
Group Raises $10M to Support Central Corridor Biz.
The Central Corridor Funders Collaborative has awarded millions of dollars in grants to support economic development around the Central Corridor light-rail line, and it will enter 2012 with about $5 million available to invest.
H.B. Fuller Buys Swiss Co. for $394M
The Vadnais Heights-based company expects its annual revenue will grow by about 47 percent following the acquisition.
Local App Developer Takes 3rd in Nat'l SBA Contest
Eden Prairie resident Robert Grogan developed a smartphone application that finds property rights, solar energy potential, and oil and gas lease statuses for entrepreneurs looking to develop new forms of energy.
MakeMusic Buys Music Software Co. Garritan
Following the deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, Garritan will become a wholly owned subsidiary of MakeMusic.
More Than a Workout
Preston Kelly's YMCA campaign suggests a higher calling.
Mpls. Fed Sees Sunny Outlook for MN in 2012
The Minneapolis Fed predicts faster-than-average employment growth of 2.8 percent in Minnesota next year and anticipates that the state's unemployment rate will fall below 6.5 percent; meanwhile, Minnesota is expected to return to pre-recession employment levels by the first quarter of 2013.
The O Factor
Minnesota Opera's original productions are reinventing opera's historical business model.
U.S. Bancorp Acquires $700M Credit Card Portfolio
A U.S. Bancorp unit bought credit card assets from FIA Card Services, N.A., a subsidiary of Bank of America.
Warm Flavors for Cold Nights
Saffron relies on harissa for complexity and just enough heat.
Where Old is New Again
Blinc Publishing is a local pioneer in the use of "analog" printing and graphic design. Target, for one, digs the look.
A Deli Grows in East Isles
Can David Weinstein's Rye succeed where so many other Twin Cities delicatessens have failed?
New Balance Rebalanced
Minneapolis design agency, Knock, wins an international design award for its shoebox.
New Year, Updated You
What better time to call on a few local experts to update your look? Here are five who can help take your personal image to a new level.
Resolve to Enjoy January
In the spirit of new beginnings, we offer an array of January-specific pleasures and distractions, both indoors and out.
3M to Buy Avery Dennison Unit for $550M
The Maplewood-based company has agreed to purchase Avery Dennison's office and consumer products business and said the acquisition will expand its global presence in the industry.
Anytime Fitness Expands to Middle East
The company's entrance into the Middle East is its latest in a series of international expansions; within the past year, it has opened nearly 300 clubs and now boasts 1,700 clubs worldwide.
Four Local Office Towers Sold in Dec. for $184M
The MoneyGram Tower and the 1600 Tower in St. Louis Park, Two MarketPointe in Bloomington, and the Colonnade office tower in Golden Valley all were reportedly acquired in deals that closed last month.
Granite City Buys 4 More Cadillac Ranch Eateries
To date, the company has closed on the purchase of five Cadillac Ranch restaurants in four states, paying $7.7 million; it intends to pay another $1.5 million to buy three more locations in an effort to grow into a "broader and more dynamic restaurant company."
Masu to Fill Former Soul Daddy Space at MOA
The new Japanese restaurant, which opened its first location in Northeast Minneapolis last year, plans to open its second location at the Mall of America.
Met Council OKs $1.2M to Boost Central Corridor Biz.
The council will reportedly spend the money on a marketing campaign intended to attract customers to struggling businesses along the Central Corridor light-rail line.
MN Phases Out Extended Unemployment Benefits
A federal program that gave up to 13 weeks of extended benefits to long-term unemployed individuals is being phased out in Minnesota and nine other states.
New Skyway Connects Downtown Minneapolis
A new skyway was built to connect the Accenture Tower and Ameriprise Financial Center in downtown Minneapolis.
Report: Ford Plant Workers Slow to Find New Work
According to an Associated Press story, many former workers were unprepared for their next step after Ford ceased operations at the St. Paul plant last month.
TCB Presents Its Annual "Small-Business Success Stories"
This year's 10 tales of success feature a diverse list of small businesses, including a tortilla maker, a corporate travel company, a pawn shop chain, and a music college.
Michele Bachmann Drops Out of Presidential Race
After a disappointing sixth-place finish in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann announced she has ended her presidential campaign.
100% of Caribou's Beans Now Sustainably Sourced
Brooklyn Center-based Caribou Coffee claims to be the nation's first major coffee retailer to source all of its beans from farms that meet sustainable standards developed by the Rainforest Alliance.
Anytime Fitness CEO's Book: "Working Out Sucks"
Chuck Runyon's new book acknowledges that "working out may suck," but it cites alternatives like heart disease, diabetes, and less sex as much worse.
Dayton Sets Stadium Plan Deadline; Wilf Warms to Mpls.
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf reportedly met recently with key political leaders and displayed maps showing how a new stadium might fit at two different Minneapolis sites. Governor Mark Dayton, meanwhile, sent letters Thursday to Ramsey County and Minneapolis setting January 12 as the deadline for their final proposals for the project.
DEED Unveils Small Biz Funding Programs
DEED will allocate up to $15.4 million for four new programs that aim to improve access to capital for small businesses.
Former Capella Exec. Martin Named Ceridian CFO
Lois M. Martin, whose career spans 26 years, left Capella at the end of 2010 after spending six years there; in her new role, she'll be responsible for corporate-wide financial strategy, management, and reporting.
General Mills Launches New Cheerios, Other Products
The manufacturing giant introduced 100 new products in the first half of its 2012 fiscal year and plans to introduce roughly 50 more before the fiscal year ends in late May.
MN Taconite Production Continues to Climb
An estimated 38.9 million tons of iron pellets were produced by the state's mining operations in 2011, up from 35.1 million tons in 2010 and up dramatically from 17.1 million tons in 2009.
St. Jude to Double Plymouth Site, Consolidate Cardio Unit
Little Canada-based St. Jude Medical said it plans to make a three-story, 275,000-square-foot addition to its Plymouth site-which will more than double the current 205,000-square-foot facility.
Target Holiday Sales Soft, Dec. Misses Expectations
Same-store sales rose 1.6 percent, below the company's own expectations and analyst predictions, prompting the retailer to lower its earnings guidance for the fiscal fourth quarter.
Which Stores Will Replace Bloomingdale's at MOA?
magazine Senior Editor Allison Kaplan, Zara and Topshop are among likely new tenants.
Whitebox Launches Mutual Funds for Retail Investors
The two new mutual funds-one of which is currently available for investment and another that's set to launch sometime this quarter-mark the hedge fund managers' first products available to individual investors.
Accounting Firms Eide Bailly and Wipfli to Merge
The combined firm, which will be called EB Wipfli, LLP, is expected to have more than $314 million in revenue and serve more than 70,000 clients.
Best Buy CEO Fires Back at Harsh Critics
Brian Dunn acknowledged some of Best Buy's shortcomings but refuted the idea that the company may gradually be going out of business. Comments from online readers, however, echoed some of the complaints made by critics-namely, that of poor customer service.
Capella Names Fmr. Thomson Reuters Exec. President
Scott Kinney, who has served as president of two Thomson Reuters divisions-West Education Group and FindLaw-will become president of Capella University January 17.
3M Debuts "Smart Pen" for Touchscreen Devices
The pen, which is available for $18.99 through Amazon.com, features a detachable lid that attaches to the speaker jack of a variety of portable devices, including Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Basilica Voices Stadium Concerns; Vikes Find Hidden Metrodome Costs
The Minnesota Vikings claim that building at the Metrodome site would cost $67 million more than previously estimated by Minneapolis officials. Leaders from the Basilica of St. Mary, meanwhile, are expressing concerns about the possibility of a stadium being built near that structure.
Bush Foundation President Peter Hutchinson Resigns
Peter Hutchinson, who has served as president of the St. Paul-based foundation since 2007, will step down this month but will continue to serve in an advisory role for select projects.
Jon Davis Succeeds His Father as Davisco CEO
Jon Davis, who has worked at family-owned Davisco since the age of 14, most recently served as chief operating officer for all Davisco manufacturing operations; his father, Mark Davis, will remain chairman of the company's board.
Mpls. USDA Office Among 259 to Be Closed
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that its plan to shutter 259 offices in the United States and seven foreign offices will cut annual costs by about $150 million.
Snowless Winter Hurts Seasonal Tourism, Retail Biz
For snow-removal companies, outdoor recreation retailers, and other businesses that rely on snowmobile or winter tourism, the unseasonably mild winter is taking a toll.
Target Splits With Lead Ad Agency Wieden & Kennedy
, Target's split with its lead ad agency Wieden & Kennedy stems from the October departure of Michael Francis, Target's former chief marketing officer.
Which MN Cos. Are at the Consumer Electronics Show?
In addition to the usual big-name suspects, a handful of other Minnesota companies will unveil revolutionary new offerings ranging from a first-of-its-kind content delivery platform to a smartphone case that only covers the phone's four corners to foam earphones.
3M Files Counterclaim Against Met Council Over Pollution
The state and the Metropolitan Council sued 3M, alleging that chemicals manufactured by the company have caused environmental damage-and 3M has filed a counterclaim, which argues that the Met Council dumps chemicals into the river from its seven waste treatment plants.
Ameriprise Begins Offering Financial Services in India
The company has set up offices in Mumbai and Delhi, from which its advisors will offer services to "upwardly mobile Indian consumers."
Cargill Reports Worst Quarter in a Decade
Cargill's second-quarter earnings dropped 88 percent from a year ago as the agribusiness faced uncertain markets and fluctuations in sugar prices.
Dayton Unveils Jobs Plan, Proposes $775 Million Bill
In an effort to get unemployed Minnesotans back to work, Governor Mark Dayton proposed tax credits for businesses that are hiring, a $775 million bonding bill to help companies improve their infrastructure, and additional funding to a state program that helps businesses expand or relocate to Minnesota.
Local Designer Makes a Logo a Day for 10K Lakes
To occupy herself in her spare time, graphic designer Nicole Meyer creates a logo for a new Minnesota lake each day and posts it on her Web site, Branding10000lakes.com.
MPS Technical Expands with New Edina Office
Due to shortage of skilled manufacturing workers, MPS Technical-a staffing agency that serves the manufacturing industry-saw record revenue growth in 2011.
New Concert Venue, The Brick, to Debut in Downtown Mpls.
The Brick, which is located in the space formerly occupied by Club 3 Degrees, is currently under renovation and will begin hosting performances in late March.
Remmele Engineering to Be Sold for $182.5M
The local company will be sold by Minneapolis-based private equity firm Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison to Pittsburgh-based RTI International Metals.
Starkey Labs Becomes Starkey Hearing Technologies
The Eden Prairie-based company says its name change incorporates its broad focus on technology, its global expansion, and a changing marketplace that values cutting-edge technology and personalized service.
Target to Open Specialty Boutiques Within Stores
The retailer will begin featuring products from five shops in early May under a new concept called "The Shops at Target"; separately, the company confirmed plans to test mini-Apple stores within 25 Target stores later this year.
Two New Restaurants to Open in Downtown Minneapolis
A new eatery called Devil's Advocate will open in the space most recently occupied by The Inn, and a new Asian restaurant called Marusu Street Food and Cocktails aims to open sometime this spring at 715 Hennepin Avenue.
American Crystal Rejects Union Offer, Reports Lower Profits
The Moorhead-based company-which reported a 28 percent decline in net proceeds for its most recent quarter-described a recent union offer as a "publicity stunt."
Best Buy CEO Again Responds to Critics
Brian Dunn's public response to criticism by the media triggered a barrage of additional criticism from readers. He's now responded to those comments, describing them as "candid and informative-exactly what we look for when we reach out to you."
Best Buy Restructures Key Leadership Positions
Shari Ballard has been named president of Best Buy's international business, and Mike Vitelli will serve as president of the electronic retailer's U.S. operations. Ballard and Vitelli formerly shared responsibilities for Best Buy's domestic business.
Galleria Announces New Stores, Some Departures
Later this year, furniture and home design retailer Arhaus, footwear provider Marmi, and Allure Intimate Apparel will set up shop at the upscale mall in Edina; meanwhile, three retailers will leave and several others will move spaces.
Local Start-Up to Appear on ABC's Shark Tank
The founders of Minneapolis-based start-up My Wonderful Life-which offers an online service that allows users to plan their own funeral-will present their business plan to a group of potential investors on ABC's Shark Tank.
Petters to Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court
The appeal follows two previous appeals to lower courts, both of which were unsuccessful.
Report: 3 Twin Cities Clubs Among World's Best
Three local clubs-First Avenue, 7th Street Entry, and The Cabooze-were on
2011 list of "top 100 club venues."
Rybak Discusses a Decade in Office in Q&A with TCB
R.T. Rybak discusses the past 10 years he's served as Minneapolis mayor in an exclusive interview with
Editor In Chief Dale Kurschner.
South Dakota Paralegal Firm Opens Mpls. Office
Rapid City, South Dakota-based Black Hills IP, LLC opened its first Minnesota office in the TCF Tower in downtown Minneapolis.
Thrivent to Turn Bank Into Nonprofit Credit Union
The insurance giant is reportedly awaiting regulatory clearance, but if all goes as planned, its Thrivent Financial Bank subsidiary will become Thrivent Financial Credit Union this summer.
U Start-Up Builds App for Safer Teen Driving
The DriveScribe mobile application blocks incoming calls, e-mails, and text messages while a vehicle is in operation; provides voice commands; and calculates a "safe driving score" after each trip; among other functions.
Buffets Enters Bankruptcy; 81 Restaurants to Close
The restaurant operator also filed a reorganization plan that includes eliminating its $245 million of outstanding debt and closing 81 "underperforming" restaurants; the company expects to complete the restructuring process and exit bankruptcy protection within about six months.
CHS Program Rewards Good Deeds with Free Fuel
Through its new Tanks of Thanks program, CHS will reward some individuals who give back to the community with $50 Cenex fuel gift cards.
Dayton Finds Faults in Stadium Plans, Leans Toward One
The governor appears to favor the Linden Avenue site near the Basilica of St. Mary, although he believes all three of the front-runner proposals have problems that could prevent a stadium proposal from receiving legislative approval this year.
Ecolab to Cut 500 Positions in Post-Merger Restructuring
Shortly after finalizing its purchase of Nalco Holding Company, Ecolab said that it's embarking on a restructuring and cost-saving effort that will result in pre-tax special charges of $480 million over the next couple of years-but fuel cost savings of $250 million annually by the end of 2014.
Local Software Firm Lands $52.5M Investment
Data backup and storage provider Code 42 Software, Inc., has secured $52.5 million in venture funding, which it plans to use to accelerate product development.
Metro Transit Ridership Climbs to 81 Million in 2011
Overall ridership on Metro Transit services climbed 3.5 percent in 2011, driven primarily by increased bus rides; rail transportation, meanwhile, fell just short of year-prior levels.
MN Adds 7,900 Jobs as Unemployment Falls Again
Minnesota's unemployment rate dropped another 0.2 percent in December to reach 5.7 percent, as the state added 7,900 jobs.
Snap Fitness Buys Iowa-Based Fitness Chain
Chanhassen-based Snap Fitness said that it recently acquired Kosama Complete Body Transformation, which franchises clubs that offer instructor-led fitness classes that do not use cardio or weight machines.
Target Suspends Efforts to Sell Credit Card Portfolio
The Minneapolis-based retailer said that "it is not in its best interests to finalize a transaction at this time" but plans to re-engage in discussions with a limited number of potential partners later this year.
Under Attack: Responsibility
Is it acceptable to put your business at risk in the name of ethics?
Toasting the New Year
We have the solid foundation; now for some growth.
A Manifesto for Real Change
Behind the Scenes of the Faegre Merger
"We can't stand still."
Small-Business Success Stories 2011
Ten tales of tenacity, determination, and inspiration.
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