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New health care jobs save Minnesota’s employment numbers

Synthetic drugs overwhelm shelter; IDS Center sold; a “nightmare” field trip; venture capital drops dramatically; North Dakota’s lonely oil men and bothered women; and more.

Well, it is where the money is … Paul Tosto of MPR reports: “Minnesota this year recovered the number of jobs it lost in the Great Recession. A deeper look at the data, though, paint an intriguing picture of winners and losers — and how our economy continues to shift. Bottom line: Health care jobs saved our bacon in the recession. The industry continued to grow jobs during the worst economic conditions in decades. Nearly 53,000 jobs were added in the Education and Health Services sector from December 2007, the official start of the Great Recession, through February. That almost exactly makes up for the losses Minnesota suffered in manufacturing and construction.” If you charge $50 for an aspirin, great things can happen.

In the Duluth News Tribune, Peter Passi says shelters are feeling the effects of the surge in synthetic drugs: “The growing use of synthetic drugs is threatening to shred the safety net offered to the city’s most vulnerable residents at the CHUM shelter in downtown Duluth, the nonprofit agency’s staff says. In the past year, CHUM staff members have caught more than 100 people smoking, snorting or injecting synthetic drugs on shelter property, even though clients know such activities mean automatic expulsion for at least two weeks. … Carr said that during one particularly tough week recently, the shelter kicked out 16 people for using synthetic drugs on its premises.” Maybe spring will help.

Also in Duluth … a News Tribune staff report says: “The attorney representing Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson filed a motion in federal court in Duluth on Friday to dismiss several federal charges against his client. Twin Cities attorney Randall Tigue said the motion was for the charges dealing with controlled substances. He also filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained in two search warrants served on the store.”

A Tel Aviv company now owns the IDS Center. Brian Louis of Bloomberg writes: “Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. sold the 57-story IDS Center, the tallest building in Minnesota, for $253 million to a joint venture of Beacon Investment Properties LLC and two Israeli companies. Beacon, based in Hallandale Beach, Florida, bought the property with Tel Aviv-based Harel Insurance Investments & Financial Services Ltd. (HARL) and Menora Mivtahim Insurance Ltd., the companies said today in a statement. Inland, a non-traded real estate investment trust, had pulled the tower off the market just four months ago.”

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A story certain to make network morning shows everywhere … Blake McCoy of KARE-TV says: “A parent’s worst nightmare came true Tuesday when Jacqueline Whylly’s 4-year-old son was left behind on a field trip. ‘It’s the worst nightmare I could have ever been in,’ says Whylly. The incident happened on a trip to the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Making matters worse, the school district didn’t realize AJ was missing until they got home to Marshall, Minnesota, more than an hour away. ‘All I’m thinking is no one is accountable for our son right now,’ said Whylly. ‘Anyone could have took him. No one was accountable for him. He was neglected and alone.’ When KARE 11 contacted Marshall Public Schools, the superintendent called back to explain what happened and offer an apology. ‘It happened as a result of processes and protocols not being followed,’ says superintendent Klint Willert.” Or, put another way, “Someone screwed up.”

Not exactly the kind of prison work the warden had in mind. Says Paul Walsh of the Strib: “A 32-year-old woman has admitted that while serving prison time in southern Minnesota for identity theft she repeatedly dipped into her dead mother’s bank account and stole more than $23,000 in Social Security benefits. Nefertiti Randall, 32, an inmate at the federal prison in Waseca, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis to theft of government money or property in thefts that spanned nearly three years and began immediately after her mother died. From June 2009 through April 2012, Randall stole money that was being deposited automatically into a bank account intended for her mother, but to which Randall had access.” We briefly considered naming our sons Ramses and Tut.

The GleanMedical devices and clean technology are not exactly hot prospects for venture capitalists. Adam Belz of the Strib writes: “Venture capital funding in Minnesota fell 58 percent in the first quarter compared with a year ago, a bleak sign for the state’s start-up community as investors across the country pulled away from medical devices and clean technology.”

Sorry for being a bit late on this one. But did you read Stribber Maya Rao’s piece about her irresistible popularity in the North Dakota oil patch? From The Awl: “Other women in Williston warned me this would happen. They said they couldn’t go anywhere alone without receiving an offer of some kind from an oil worker. They said the 24-hour retailer on Route 2 was the worst. The parking lot was crammed with cars bearing license plates from dozens of states, any time of day, as guys poured in from all over the country to make their fortune. Working in Minneapolis, I’d come across stories about the wild impact of the discovery of billions of barrels of oil in western North Dakota. The high-paying jobs. Once quiet farm roads now straining with traffic. Crime. Rents on par with Manhattan. And another remarkable effect that only came into focus when I visited Williston myself: an influx of men — single men, married men, overworked men, lonely men, men with big dreams, men who keep their heads down and men who cause trouble — has made it an overwhelming place to be female.” And somehow I’m not imagining Jane Austen-style courtships.

The House is getting tough with BPA … The AP says: “By wide margins, the Minnesota House has approved two bills to curb the use of certain chemicals in products made for children. Both proposals passed Friday with all but about a dozen House members on board. One prohibits the sale of food containers, formula and baby food containing the chemical bisphenol A (BIS’-phen-ol). The prohibition would be phased in over two years, with a goal of clearing shelves of products containing the chemical in 2015. BPA is used to line food cans and harden plastic to make it shatterproof, but some are worried that it contains toxic agents harmful to health.”