More Connected Than Ever

More Connected Than Ever

A look at the many ways Minnesota's business community is rising to the challenge of Covid-19.

This magazine came together in the midst of a pandemic.

I’ve typed that intense word—pandemic—probably a thousand times already, and still it feels like I’m describing a scene out of some dystopian Hollywood movie. A movie I’d very much like to turn off.

But as I write to you at the start of a third week of working from home (I think? The days are a blur), with a dog barking and one kid requesting lunch while the other is still asleep at 1 p.m. because, technically, it’s spring break, here’s what I know.

I know that we are fortunate in Minnesota to have a governor who is a former teacher and a level-headed leader even under extreme pressure. His decisive actions, while not easy, have saved lives and rallied everyone in the state to work together.

I know that our Fortune 500s are national leaders, from 3M and Medtronic providing critically needed face masks and ventilators to UnitedHealth Group introducing a self-administered Covid-19 test for health care workers to Target keeping shelves stocked. CBS news correspondent and former WCCO-TV morning host Jamie Yuccas told me that with every national news mention of a business headquartered in Minnesota, her colleagues on the coasts would comment, “Oh, that company is based in Minnesota? And that one too? I had no idea!”

They do now.

I know that our manufacturers step up. Eden Prairie-based Stratasys was one of the first 3D-printing companies to ramp up production of face shields for health care workers—also making the specifications available on its website for other companies that wanted to help. Woodchuck USA—tiny in comparison to Stratasys’ global operation—also jumped in, using its laser-cutting machines to make face shields. Ecolab increased hand sanitizer production tenfold, while local craft distilleries Tattersall Distilling, Du Nord Craft Spirits, and Brother Justus Whiskey Co. worked together to produce more than 35,000 gallons of hand sanitizer. They planned to donate much of it to care facilities, homeless shelters, and grocery store workers. This, while their own businesses suffered major revenue losses due to the closure of cocktail and tasting rooms.

In a crisis, we learn who we can rely on. The leaders become clear. The visionaries give us hope. And we realize how resilient and nimble we can be when the situation demands it.

For TCB, that’s meant leaning more heavily than ever on our websitee-newsletters, and social channels to keep you up-to-date on the ever-changing news. To provide helpful resources. To share stories of heartbreak and encouragement. To offer advice and bring people together, the only way we can gather. You showed up in record numbers, a welcome reminder that connection, communication, and information are vital. We’re so proud
to provide that platform, now more than ever.

In early March, senior writer Burl Gilyard put what we thought were the finishing touches on a feature about Minnesota’s labor shortage. How long ago that now seems. He rewrote that article (“A Gigless Economy?”) twice more, working right up until our final deadline in late March. He did the same on a Trending piece (“Brother, Can You Spare Any Liquidity?” page 45) about the banking industry that offers perspective from industry experts. Our Amped Up section spotlights small companies that have rushed relevant technology and other services to market. The immediate motivation was staying afloat while  the world was flipped upside down, but no doubt many of the products and processes prompted by challenging times will make those businesses better in the long run.

They pivoted. You pivoted. And so did we. In the process, we realized it is possible to assemble the entire magazine virtually. We learned new tricks on Slack and Zoom that will make us more efficient going forward. We checked in with eachother and communicated more directly without the routine of office banter to fall back upon. (And then we shared the occasional talking dog meme to lighten the mood.)

While we can’t predict what the coming days and months will bring, we can find some bright spots and feel confident that our community of sharp minds and compassionate companies will rise to the new demands. And we’ll be here to share the triumphs and help you work through the challenges.

Like never before, we’re in this together. That much, I know.