Not that we need anything more to feel superior … Donovan Slack of the Gannett system reports: “When Minnesota state lawmaker Joe Atkins hunkered down to draft legislation outlining the way Minnesota would implement the Affordable Care Act, he had no idea the results would be so dramatic. The Gopher State is now enrolling individuals through its health-insurance exchange by the thousands and at health insurance premium rates that are among the lowest in the country. Next door in Wisconsin, the numbers of Obamacare enrollees have barely hit the hundreds and premium rates are between 25 and 35 percent higher than in Minnesota. … A 50-year-old Minnesotan who lives just south of the Twin Cities in Dakota County can buy a mid-level, silver plan for $241 a month. Just 20 miles away, across the state line in St. Croix County, the least expensive silver plan available to a 50-year-old Wisconsinite costs nearly three times that price — $622 a month.” Further proof that “it’s working” in Wisconsin.
A new note of diversity in the race for secretary of state. John Welbes of the PiPress says: “Dennis Nguyen, a Republican candidate for Minnesota Secretary of State, kicked off his campaign Sunday at the State Capitol, speaking of the need to expand voting opportunities and connect to small businesses. He told the crowd of more than 70 supporters in the State Capitol rotunda that he’ll campaign in urban communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and also on the Iron Range and in rural Minnesota, to win the office. Nguyen, 43, whose name is pronounced ‘win,’ came to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1975.”
Elizabeth Baier at MPR says demand for frac sand is dropping: “Nationwide, an abundance of frac sand has kept demand down recently, so [farmer Tom] Rowecamp and his partner Ivie Popplewell, of Winona, have turned to an old market for their product. They’re selling the sand to farmers, who use it as bedding for cows. The bedding sand sells for $3.25 a ton — significantly less than when it’s used in mining. At the height of the sand boom a couple years ago, frac sand in Wisconsin was selling for as much as $200 a ton.”
There’s a Minneapolis group coordinating an aid response to that mega-typhoon in the Philippines. An MPR note says: “A Minneapolis-based organization is gearing up to help victims of the deadly typhoon in the Philippines. The American Refugee Committee is planning to send a team of up to six people as soon as it can arrange transportation there. The typhoon, which has killed an estimated 10,000 people so far, has disabled airports. ‘We have particular expertise on things like providing emergency non-food items, so making sure people have things like blankets, tarpaulins, things to cook with,’ said Daniel Wordsworth, president of ARC.”
The skydiving accident in Superior a couple weeks back has the group involved trying to figure out a way to save the company involved. Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune says: “They pinned their hopes to footage that had been captured on five helmet cameras during the ordeal. The idea? Sell the exclusive rights to the dramatic video to the highest bidder. … The nine skydivers that day were participating as customers of Skydive Superior, and the rights to the footage belonged to them individually, company officials said. … Indeed, the very existence of Skydive Superior was placed in jeopardy by the accident, with the company deprived of any working aircraft. While Skydive Superior carries liability insurance for both airplanes, it did not insure the planes themselves. Such coverage would run about $10,000 per aircraft, more than the small, family-run company could afford.”
A Duluth egg producer has a shot at a Super Bowl ad. The AP reports: “[F]our companies are finalists in a competition held by software maker Intuit, which will pay millions of dollars to give the winner a 30-second spot in the game Feb. 2. They were selected by Intuit’s 8,000 employees. The winner will be chosen in a vote open to anyone who visits the competition website, www.smallbusinessbiggame.com, through Dec. 1.The finalists are Barley Labs, of Durham, N.C., which makes dog treats out of barley; GoldieBlox, based in Oakland, Calif., maker of engineering toys aimed at girls; Locally Laid Egg Co., a Duluth-area egg producer; and POOP — Natural Dairy Compost, a Nampa, Idaho, fertilizer maker.”
The bloom is definitely off that car-pooling thing. Tim Harlow of the Strib says: “According to recent data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, more than 76 percent of people in the United States who are 16 or older and work outside the home get to their jobs by car. That’s just below the all-time high of 77 percent in 2005, before the economy went bust. The number of solo drivers dipped slightly after that, while carpooling and mass transit use saw a modest uptick. The trend didn’t stick. Here in progressive Minnesota, 78 percent of commuters travel solo, according to the survey. Only 4 percent used mass transit and 8 percent car- or van-pooled in 2012, the survey said.” But being Minnesota, how many of those solo drivers are in Subarus?
Here are six folks who have big money to work with and big decisions to make. The Strib’s Jennifer Brooks writes: “Mayo Clinic’s $6 billion makeover of downtown Rochester involves staggering amounts of money and equally staggering amounts of planning. Before Rochester can build, it has to decide what to build. On Friday, Mayo named six new planners to guide Rochester’s future development — including a retired Minnesota Twins executive and the dean of the Carlson School of Management. … Its six-member board includes: Jerry Bell, former president of the Minnesota Twins; Lisa Clarke, executive director of the Destination Medical Center’s Economic Development Agency; Mayo physician and pediatrics professor Dr. Patricia Simmons; Gary Smith, president of Rochester Area Economic Development; Wendy Wood, senior investment manager at University of Minnesota Foundation Investment Advisors; and Srilatta Zaheer, dean of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.”
And the sprawl goes on … Bob Shaw of the PiPress says: “A growth zone straddling the Woodbury-Cottage Grove border is poised to become perhaps the fastest-growing part of the metro area. If projections pan out, an area that is mostly farmland and fields will be home to 24,000 people in as little as 10 years. Developers have started work on five projects, and two more are planned. And other developers are sniffing around, waiting for the right opportunity. ‘Activity drives activity,’ said Cottage Grove city administrator Ryan Schroeder. ‘There is an awful lot of interest in northern Cottage Grove right now.’ “