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Committed To Journalism

From letters to the editor to a spate of recent awards, TCB’s ongoing evolution is all about value to readers.

We had several letters come in after my July Editor’s Note, “Successful: Time to Move?” about Minnesota’s recent tax increases. Given their timeliness, I’m keeping my column short this month to run as many as we can fit at this point. (See below.) Thank you to those of you who wrote in.

Our cover story provides the most comprehensive look yet taken in Minnesota at immigration reform and Minnesota’s economic future.

It’s the result of months’ worth of work by Dave Beal, one of the region’s great business journalists, who worked at the Milwaukee Journal as business editor before joining the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1981. Beal knows how to dive into an incredibly complex issue, interview the right people, conduct true research (the kind that involves going beyond the Internet), and pull it all together with depth and readability. We’re thrilled to work with him on projects such as this one.

We plan to do more of this type of journalism in the future—on complex topics such as immigration reform, and more focused ones such as Executive Editor Adam Platt’s exploration of the dispute imperiling Southwest LRT in our April issue.

I’m also happy to report such efforts are being noticed by our peers. In mid-June, Twin Cities Business won four Page One awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Minnesota Chapter:

We also received awards from the Alliance of Area Business Publications, judged by faculty at the University of Missouri School of Journalism (judges’ comments are in quotes):

 

Magazines, Best Cover, Gold:

“Tourism Wars!”
“Using the icons to represent the three state-tourism war is engaging and humorous. They’ve redressed all three to make the image fresh. The comic-book colors reflect the tone and play.”
 

Magazines, Best Feature, Silver:

“Plausible Deniability”
“This story is a model for excellent legal affairs reporting, particularly because of its attention to detail and its focused, clear narrative. Well-sourced and authoritative, the article made a complicated financial fraud accessible to readers.”
 

Magazines, Best Body of Work Single Writer, Silver:

“Plausible Deniability” May 2012, and “Full Steam Ahead” (American Crystal Sugar), February 2012
“The reporting alone on the tale of a Ponzi scheme gone haywire merits award recognition. The solid writing of a complex fraud story grew organically from the tremendous detail gathered in reporting, including a jailhouse interview that no other journalist had obtained. Another story about a bitter dispute between management and unionized sugar beet factory workers shows evidence of hard, shoe-leather reportage.”
 

Open, Best Special Section Design, Bronze:

“Kick It in Gear,” April 2012
“This section was elegant in its design. It used simple, clean elements to convey its information without seeming like it was advocating for any particular item featured. It was factual, restrained and had a wonderful flow to the pages in the section. The section was nicely packaged with its use of color and photography cutouts.” We have even more exciting projects in the works, and we’re looking forward to delivering them to you in the months ahead.
 

Letters

I just got around to reading the July TCB magazine this morning. I usually read at least enough of your editor’s note to catch the topic of the month and determine if it interests me. This month’s topic on the Legislature’s and governor’s taxation policies on “the rich” was especially interesting to me [“Successful: Time to Move?,” July 2013].

It was refreshing to me that someone with a platform such as yours was willing to take our lawmakers and their leadership to task on the message that they have been sending to the small to midsize business owners in Minnesota. It seems to me that Minnesota government is hell-bent on driving successful S-corp owners right out of the state. Since the last legislative session, I have read very little questioning how much more the State can continue to tax “the rich,” before “the rich” say enough is enough and find a more tax-friendly environment to make a living.

As it is in St. Paul now, I and others like me, feel we have no voice in Minnesota politics. You wrote an editorial that every lawmaker in St. Paul needs to read. It is a message that needs to be sent over and over again before the next legislative session convenes. If the current spend-now-tax-later theme continues, I guarantee there will be fewer business owners in Minnesota two years from now to help pay the bill.

Thank you for a reminder to us all to become involved and engaged before it is too late.

Richard Roberts
EPA Audio Visual, Inc.

 

Great editorial this month! [“Successful: Time to Move?,” July 2013] You’ve begun to tell the story of those of us who take the risk in business and then take a beating because we were naive enough to believe in the risk/reward formula. My only question: Where the heck was this editorial six months ago? Twice during the recent legislative session, our elected officials proposed bills that would have taxed our industry at rates of 6.875 percent and 5.5 percent. (That’s in addition to what we currently pay!) These tax increases would have each raised an additional $700 million annually in taxes and put literally hundreds of firms out of business!

My wife Molly and I own a business here in town that employs 200 people. We purchased the company a year and a half ago. Business is difficult, but we’re doing great despite what the governor and some legislators have tried to do.

Because of the threats to our business and industry during the past legislative session, Molly and I got very involved with the Legislature to the point of extensive lobbying and testifying against the punitive proposed taxes. (Molly, who is a CPA, went so far as to testify to the House tax committee.) With hundreds of other business owners, we fought two bills in one session, killing them both, and we were luckier than some.

The warehousing folks were targeted by the Legislature because, according to Senator [Ann] Rest [DFL-Bloomington], they weren’t involved early enough. Now, in addition to running a business with all that effort and risk, owners need to be involved at the right time and right level with the Legislature? Do we need to “kiss the rings” of the anointed? What a crock. It’s understandable that business owners are looking to leave Minnesota.

While our efforts—and those of hundreds of other business owners—to kill unfair taxation were successful, we’re fighting a losing battle. The problem is that working to repeal the one-sided tax agenda is a herculean effort. The Legislature has unlimited resources; we already have full-time jobs (and then some). When it comes to risk/reward and “fair share” my life-long friend “Mick” has the perspective our legislators need to understand. Mick is a guard at a maximum-security prison. Daily he walks among convicted murderers, rapists, and thieves. The risk Mick takes on a daily basis is literally life and death.

Mick and I were talking the other night and he said “Jim, I could never do what you and Molly do; I would be afraid of the risk. You deserve everything you get, because of the risk you take.” What the legislators and the governor have little appreciation for is what Mick goes through on a daily basis, and what Molly and I go through on a daily basis. We all already pay our fair share, and singling out either one of us is unfair, biased, and wrong.

James Jungbauer
President, Hollstadt & Associates, Inc.

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