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Glass Half Empty, Glass Half Full

A projected global shortage of fresh water will be a big issue for business. For some Minnesota companies, it already is. Here’s how they size up the risks and opportunities.

Space Race With Space150

After a year of rapid-fire expansion, Space150 keeps reaching for the digital leading edge in advertising.

Columns

playbook-Hooked In, Not Selling Out-July 2011

The principals of RJF Agencies—a “fierce independent”—sold to a global giant but remain very much in charge.And now they are pitching the same deal to other insurance agencies.

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Best Buy Could Pay Up to $10.2M to Settle Lawsuit

The retail giant has agreed to change its personnel policies and procedures, pay the plaintiffs $200,000, and cover attorney costs and fees of up to about $10 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit that was

Cos. Near Central Corridor Can Apply for $20K Loans

Independent, for-profit businesses along the Central Corridor light-rail line that have less than $2 million in annual sales and a focus on retail services are eligible to apply for up to $20,000 in interest-free, forgivable

MN Man Charged in $20M Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Federal prosecutors have accused Roger Bill Hanks-about whom very little information is available-of collecting $600,000 in kickbacks in connection with a $20 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved 57 Minnesota properties.

Pouring More Venture Capital into Water

Almost a year after local money manager Trevor Cook was sentenced to 25 years in prison in connection with a $194 million Ponzi scheme that he operated, three new individuals were charged in connection with

U Regents OK Plan for 5% Tuition Hike, Layoffs

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents approved a provisional budget that would take effect if the funding levels outlined in the higher education finance bill that was vetoed by Governor Dayton were enacted-a circumstance

Senators Investigate Controversial Medtronic Product

Two members of the Senate Finance Committee are requesting information from Medtronic regarding its Infuse product and the financial ties between the company and doctors that conduct clinical trials involving the product.

Third Person Pleads Guilty in $42M Cloud 9 Scheme

While pleading guilty to two counts for her role in a $42 million scheme involving the Cloud 9 Sky Flats in Minnetonka, Sheri Lynn Delich told the court that she received instructions from Cloud 9's

Local Cos. to Network With MBA Class Coming to Mpls.

Target and several other Minnesota companies sponsor a consortium of top-ranked U.S. business schools that promotes diversity in American business; at an upcoming four-day consortium event in Minneapolis, they'll be scoping out the best and

UHG Sues Over Loss of $23.5B Gov’t Contract

The lawsuit comes about a week after the U.S. Government Accountability Office rejected the company's protest of a health-care contract that was awarded to it in 2009 and then rescinded in February.

Nonprofit Life Link III CEO Arrested on Tax Charges

Richard Carter McComb allegedly failed to file individual income tax returns in Minnesota for tax years 2007 through 2009 and now faces six felony tax charges; Life Link III said that it will continue to

Target Dealt Blow in Trademark Fight With Canada Co.

A federal court judge in Canada dismissed an injunction request by the Minneapolis-based retailer; the request aimed to prevent a Canadian company that owns 15 Target Apparel retail stores from using the Target name until

“Mystery Shoppers” Pose as Patients, Call MN Doctors

A new initiative by the Obama Administration will reportedly involve government contractors calling Minnesota's doctors' offices under the guise of being real patients; the effort, which some doctors oppose, will show whether physicians respond differently

Pending U.S. Bill May Help Small Cos. Go Public

The Small Company Capital Formation Act of 2011-which will amend the Securities Act of 1933 and exempt small companies from certain rules when completing an initial public offering-is reportedly expected to clear the Financial Services

Toro Buys KY Co., Enters New Product Categories

Lawn Solutions Commercial Products makes aerators, seeders, power rakes, and brush cutters-all of which are new product categories for the Bloomington-based maker of turf maintenance equipment.

Former DQ Leader May Buy Faribault Woolen Mills

Onetime-International Dairy Queen CEO Chuck Mooty and his cousin, Paul Mooty, have told Faribault officials that they are interested in buying the facility and reopening it as a woolen mill-but the current owner wants the

Mpls May Sue State During Shutdown Over $44M in Aid

The City of Minneapolis says that it has been allocated millions of dollars in state aid that doesn't require legislative action and should be paid regardless of whether a state government shutdown occurs; the city

Pursuit Vascular: Time to Bring in New CEO

The transition will give founder and former CEO Bob Ziebol more time to focus on getting regulatory approval for its device in Europe and the United States-and to pursue additional products.

Target Sells Rights to 39 Canada Sites to Wal-Mart

Target, which in January acquired leasehold interests for 220 Canadian sites in preparation for its expansion north of U.S. borders, has transferred the rights to 39 of those sites to Wal-Mart for an undisclosed sum.

Convicted Fraudster Pleads Guilty in Another Scheme

Michael Joseph Krzyzaniak, who already served time in federal prison for his role in an investment scam, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of wire fraud and one count of income tax evasion in relation

Judge Rules Which Services Continue Under Shutdown

Ramsey County District Court Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin ruled Wednesday that certain core or essential government services will continue to operate if a state budget deal is not reached by midnight on Thursday, forcing the

Medtronic CEO Defends Co. Amid Product Scrutiny

A review of studies surrounding a controversial Medtronic product revealed that researchers with financial ties to the company didn't report adverse effects in patients who received the product, according to a new report.

America’s Next Great Restaurant Already Closed

The Soul Daddy restaurant concept that recently opened three locations as a prize for winning a reality show has reportedly already closed all of its locations, including one at the Mall of America.

MN Reps. Voice More Concerns Over FDA Regs.

The state's Congressional delegation sent a letter to the FDA on Thursday voicing concerns over delays in the agency's investigational device exemption (IDE) review process.

TCF Drops Swipe-Fee Suit After Losing Appeal

Just one day after losing an appeal, TCF Bank said that it was dismissing its suit that it filed last October, which argued that new rules regarding debit-card swipe fees are unconstitutional.

Former Employee Sues Best Buy for Discrimination

Majeed "Todd" Abed claims that he was taunted for his religion by his supervisor at work and that he was fired for not complying with a Best Buy program that was "implemented in a discriminatory

Local Author’s New Ethics Book Pulls From Headlines

Nan DeMars' new book-You've GOT To Be Kidding! How to Keep Your Job Without Losing Your Integrity-addresses how to solve workplace ethical issues through real-life case studies, some of which are plucked from today's headlines.

ProBuild to Close Regional HQ in Winona

A company spokeswoman confirmed that the company plans to consolidate its two Winona offices; some employees will move into the consolidated location, some may be offered the opportunity to relocate to the Denver corporate headquarters,

U of M Start-Up Accused of Copying Product Idea

A group of University of Minnesota students reportedly has been accused of copying an existing product idea; the local start-up's CEO, meanwhile, told the Star Tribune that his company has acted ethically.

Calhoun Commons Retail Center Sold for $21M

The acquisition of Calhoun Commons, which is anchored by a 49,471-square-foot Whole Foods Market, gives Regency Centers its fourth shopping center in the Twin Cities market.

Groupon Now! Enters Twin Cities Market

Unlike regular Groupon deals, which are purchased for future use, Groupon Now! deals are redeemed immediately and can only be used during the day in which they are purchased.

Metro Transit Considers Fare Hikes, Reduced Service

As the Metropolitan Council prepares for a potentially dramatic cut in state funding to local transit operations, it said that possible budget solutions could include a fare increase of up to 50 cents, up to

MN Reconsiders Roads Near Halted Elk Run Project

According to Finance and Commerce, the state may try to cut its losses on the $34.3 million Highway 52 interchange project in Pine Island, which was designed to provide access to the Elk Run project.

Local Retail Market Sees Some Positive Signs in Q1

A report from Cassidy Turley indicates that a stagnant economy has prevented any substantial growth from occurring in the Twin Cities retail market, but the introduction of some new retailers and plans for new development

Medtronic Spends $585M to Buy 2 Surgical Tech Cos.

The medical device giant will spend a combined $585 million to acquire two surgical technology companies in which it already has an ownership interest-Peak Surgical and Salient Surgical Technologies.

Target to Pay $160K to Settle Discrimination Suit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that Target Corporation violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying a disabled employee "reasonable accommodation" and reducing his work hours because of his disability.

MN Bond Rating Downgraded Due to Budget Standoff

Fitch Ratings lowered the rating on $5.7 billion in state general-obligation bonds to AA+ from the best AAA rating, citing "the difficulties in reaching consensus on a plan to address the resulting large budget gap

Mojo Minnesota Incorporates as a Co-op

Co-founder Ernest Grumbles said that Mojo was a bit hesitant to adopt a formal structure, but the co-op structure allows it to move forward with its mission to fuel entrepreneurship in Minnesota.

ATK Wins $77M Army Ammunition Contract

The contract award comes about two months after Alliant Techsystems lost an $850 million Army contract to run an ammunition plant in Virginia-a decision that it formally protested.

Pawlenty, Others Lead Nat’l Twitter Jobs Conference

A first-of-its-kind American Jobs Conference will take place on Twitter on July 19; Governor Tim Pawlenty will give the "Tweetnote presentation" and numerous government, technology, business, and recruiting leaders will be featured.

Report: Target Accelerates Canada Plans, Hiring

The Wall Street Journal reported that Target is moving faster than originally expected with its Canadian expansion plans and intends to hire 100 workers in the country by the end of the year.

Settlement with Xcel Could Cost Gov’t $200M

Xcel Energy said that it has reached a settlement with the U.S. government regarding costs incurred because of the U.S. Department of Energy's failure to begin removing used fuel from the company's nuclear plant sites

U.S. Bank, TCF Help Customers Hurt by Shutdown

State employees who have been laid-off or furloughed, along with others who have been economically impacted by the state shutdown, can skip one or two monthly payments on most types of loans through the bank

Web Site Charges Cos. to Access Employee Gossip

OfficeLeaks.com, an online forum through which employees anonymously post comments about the companies for which they work, is now seeking to profit by charging employers a fee to gain access to the online conversations.

Best Buy Praises New Laws that Tax Online Retailers

The Richfield-based company says that brick-and-mortar stores are at a competitive disadvantage when online retailers aren't required to collect sales tax; it supports new laws like one in California that is designed to level the

MN Leaders Push for Debt-Ceiling Compromise

Five Minnesota business leaders are among the nearly 500 leaders from across the nation who are urging national leaders to come to a compromise regarding the U.S. debt ceiling and a plan to decrease the

Shutdown Means Some Alcohol Supplies Run Dry

Retailers whose "buyer's cards" are expired, can't get them renewed during the shutdown-meaning once they run out of alcohol, they're unable to buy more. Meanwhile, MillerCoors reportedly must remove its beer from Minnesota bars and

Cirrus Buyer Pledges to Keep Jobs in Duluth

While some Minnesotans worried that Cirrus' acquisition by a Chinese company could result in the elimination of Duluth jobs, both the acquiring company's leaders and the City of Duluth have reportedly pledged to support the

Schwan’s Opens Ice Cream Kiosk at MOA

The company does not have immediate plans to open other ice cream kiosks, but a spokesman for Schwan's said that it is certainly a possibility if the Mall of America location is successful.

Shutdown Helps Some, Hurts Some in Trucking Industry

Truck stops are seeing increased traffic and more trucks are parking in their lots overnight-but the state's trucking companies are having problems getting credentials for drivers and experiencing a lag time in getting permits to

Big G, Others Unveil Plan for Advertising to Kids

The country's food industry released a new plan to self-regulate the products that it markets to children, but those plans are reportedly less stringent than recommended guidelines from the federal government.

Capella Buys U.K. Online Education Co. for $14.9M

The company, Resource Development International, develops and delivers online higher-education programs across the U.K.; its 2010 fiscal-year revenue totaled about $13.9 million, and Capella's CEO sees it as a business with "significant opportunity for long-term

Digital Angel Stockholders OK Animal ID Unit Sale

CEO Joe Grillo said that the sale of the Destron Fearing Corporation subsidiary will allow the company to operate its remaining business "with improved balance sheet liquidity and virtually debt-free."

New Mpls Running Tours Target Tourists, Biz Travelers

City Running Tours has entered Minneapolis and offers an outdoor, educational alternative to the monotonous treadmill. It's targeting both locals and tourists-and through a partnership with the Westin, it's aiming to attract business travelers.

Report: State, IRS Seek $2.5M in Petters Assets

The Pioneer Press reports that the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the IRS, which have identified tax liabilities dating back to 2004, are asking for $2.5 million in ill-gotten assets being controlled by receiver Doug

IT Staffing Firm to Hire 80 at New Mpls Office

Digital Intelligence Systems Corporation said that it intends to fill approximately 80 positions in its consulting, internal sales, recruiting, and support personnel teams with the opening of a new Minneapolis office.

Real Estate Pros Anxious for End to State Shutdown

During the state shutdown, the Commerce Department isn't processing licenses and renewals for some real estate professionals-which is leaving some without work and keeping new agents from entering the field. And an extended shutdown would

ReelzChannel Viewers Up Since Kennedys Series Debut

Unique viewers now total between 8.5 million and 9 million-up substantially from about 3 million in January; on the success of The Kennedys miniseries, which debuted in April, ReelzChannel CEO Stan Hubbard plans to bring

U.S. Bank Pilots Wristband That Can Make Payments

Thousands of the bank's employees are testing a MasterCard-branded wristband that stores customers' financial information and can be used to make payments; the wristband also stores emergency contact and medical information.

Angeion Appoints Gregg Lehman CEO

Gregg Lehman, who has served as interim CEO at the St. Paul-based company since May, will serve as the company's top executive on a permanent basis.

Mayo Clinic Ranks 3rd on Best Hospital Honor Roll

Johns Hopkins Hospital nabbed the top spot on U.S. News and World Report's "honor roll" for best hospitals, which includes just 17 hospitals from across the country. Several other Minnesota hospitals were recognized in individual

OnStar FMV Hits Best Buy Shelves on Sunday

Best Buy will sell and install the OnStar FMV, allowing owners of non-GM vehicles to access OnStar's services, including roadside assistance and automatic crash response.

3 More Locals Charged in Cook’s $194M Ponzi Scheme

Jason Bo-Alan Beckman, 41, of Plymouth; Gerald Joseph Durand, 60, of Faribault; and conservative radio show host Patrick Kiley, 73, of Burnsville allegedly worked with Cook to defraud investors through what they marketed as a

Canterbury Aims to Recoup $3M Lost During Shutdown

The company-which resumed operations on Thursday-is looking at ways to make up the estimated $3 million that it lost during the government shutdown, including adding races, extending the racing season, and rescheduling Fourth of July

More Charges Surface Against Petters Associates

Frank Vennes, who allegedly served as one of Tom Petters' primary fundraisers and was indicted in April, now faces several new charges. James Fry, a fund manager from Minnesota, also faces fraud charges.

St. Jude to Cut 450 Jobs in Sweden, Move Some Mfg.

The Little Canada-based medical device company experienced a decline in U.S. sales within its cardiac rhythm management division during the second quarter; moving that division's manufacturing to Puerto Rico and Malaysia is expected to cut

Sun Country Moves Forward Under New Ownership

The Davis family, Minnesotans who own Cambria Holdings and Davisco Foods, purchased the airline, which emerged from bankruptcy in February. An attorney representing the trustee in the Petters bankruptcy case, who oversaw the transaction, said

Supervalu to Bring 250 Stores to ‘Food Deserts’

Company executives joined First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday at the White House to outline efforts to fight childhood obesity; Supervalu estimates that its new stores will provide better access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and