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Alliant Techsystems machine could lighten plane loads; also: Entegris acquisition, red flag on gas site, Target campus on hold, Supervalu exec leads women’s pay chart

As airlines look to lighten their loads by building planes out of plastic instead of metal, Alliant Techsystems said it’s come up with a machine to automate a key step in the process. The Edina aerospace and weapons company said its automated stiffener forming machine will make the next-generation aircraft material less expensive and time-consuming to reinforce. The carbon composite frames are lighter than metal and thus conserve fuel, but safety concerns are being raised about whether the material holds up over time.

More materials news: Entegris, a Chaska company that supplies the semicondutor industry with equipment for making computer chips, is buying a Texas firm that makes products out of graphite. They’re used in medical devices, solar panels and other equipment. Entegris will pay $158 million for Poco Graphite Inc. Reuters notes that the acquisition follows a cool-down in the semiconductor business. The Star Tribune’s Neal St. Anthony profiled Entegris’ CEO Gideon Argov in 2005 after it merged with a Boston firm.

Via the Consumerist blog:
The Better Business Bureau is waving a red flag about a consumer gasoline-hedging website that falsely claimed a partnership with U.S. Bank, headquartered in Minneapolis., which claims to let paid members buy “tomorrow’s gas [at] today’s prices,” issued a press release saying it had partnered with U.S. Bank on its My Gallons Card. The BBB contacted U.S. Bank, which said the company discussed the opportunity but then declined. The website has now suspended accepting membership fees.

We noted last week that the slow economy appears to have stalled Target‘s growth. A same-store sales report for June was roughly flat, compared with a year ago. The Star Tribune’s Lora Pabst reported over the weekend that the slow economy has also put the company’s new Brooklyn Park campus on “indefinite” hold, possibly for as long as four years. The suburb’s community development director said the most important factor is the state’s delay in upgrading a section of Highway 610, which isn’t schedule now until 2014.

Supervalu’s Pamela Knous is the highest-paid woman executive among Minnesota public companies, according to the Business Journal‘s new annual Women in Business issue. Knous, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Eden Prairie grocery company, earned $2.9 million compensation for the financial year ending in February. The Business Journal said this is the first time it’s compiled the women’s pay list. Others topping the list include Susan Engel of the Lenox Group and Pamela Joseph of U.S. Bank.

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