News magazine profiles Medtronic; also: Delta, Northwest pilots OK contract, Qwest labor unrest grows, and Best Buy’s Geek Squad facing more competition

Persuading customers to have “holes drilled into their skulls and electrode-tipped wires connected to their brains might seem like a puzzling corporate strategy,” writes U.S. News & World Report. But the cutting-edge field of neuromodulation might drive future growth for Medtronic the way pacemakers and defibrillators have in the past. The news magazine profiles the Fridley-based company in its latest issue, focusing on its new treatments for neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia.

Delta and Northwest pilots ratified a four-year contract Monday that should help clear the way for a smooth merger between the two airlines, the Star Tribune‘s Liz Fedor reports. Meanwhile, other unions representing Northwest workers are digging in for a fight, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The machinists’ union has opened an Atlanta office across the street from Delta headquarters in an attempt to organize employees.

More labor: Qwest workers authorized their union to set a strike date if necessary, the Denver Business Journal reports. The telecommunications company employs more than 4,000 people in Minnesota. A vote of workers in 14 states showed 93 percent support a strike if collective bargaining fails. The Colorado company’s contracts with the Communication Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are scheduled to expire Aug. 16, a week before delegates arrive in its hometown for the Democratic National Convention.

A Chicago analyst is worried Target
and Wal-Mart might start stealing the Geek Squad‘s lunch money. The retailers are trying to cut into Best Buy’s share of the consumer electronics market, said Citi Investment Research analyst Kate McShane. Of particular concern, she wrote, is their foray into service and installation. While neither store’s technical support matches the Geek Squad’s quality, “the fact that these companies are starting to offer installation in a difficult environment could result in a slowdown in share gains or possibly even share loss for Best Buy.”

Do you have an inside scoop or news tip about a Minnesota company? Spotted something interesting in your RSS reader? Drop Business Agenda a note at dhaugen [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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