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Friday P.M. Report

Anytime Fitness expanding to Europe, Twin Cities apartment vacancies down but rent holds steady, General Mills and 3M win top innovation awards, and Nash-Finch beats estimates.

Anytime Fitness expanding to Europe: Anytime Fitness signed a franchise agreement for the United Kingdom and Ireland, the company said today. The Hastings-based fitness chain plans to open its first U.K. club by the end of summer in the greater London area, and plans to open 50 clubs by the end of 2012. The company was ranked 20th on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Fast 50. Read full story

Twin Cities apartment vacancies down but rent holds steady: The Twin Cities apartment market is improving, according to a new report that shows vacancy rates declining as demand grows. Vacancy rates dropped to 6.1 percent in the first three months of 2010 from 7.3 percent at the end of 2009. The vacancy rate is still higher than any other first-quarter rate since at least 2005. Economic improvements and job growth led to the absorption of an estimated 1,800 units, the report said. Read full story

General Mills, 3M win golds at Edison innovation awards: Two Minnesota companies took home first-place awards in a national innovation contest Thursday night. General Mills and 3M co. both won gold medals at the Edison Best New Product Awards in New York City. Maplewood-based 3M took a gold medal in the technology category for its mobile projection technology and another in electronics and computers. Golden Valley-based General Mills received a gold in consumer packaged foods for its Betty Crocker gluten-free dessert mix line. Read full story

Nash-Finch beats estimates as stock rises: Nash-Finch Co. beat analysts’ earnings expectations for its first quarter earnings, sending its stock up by more than 5 percent in early trading today. The Edina-based grocery distributor and retailer said it earned $7.9 million, or 59 cents per share, in the quarter, down sharply from the $14.4 million, or $1.08 per share, that the company earned in the first quarter of 2009. Read full story