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Minnesota aims to make pitch for new Amazon HQ

Plus: state hopes new opioid database improves response to opioid epidemic; federal lawsuit accuses former probation officer of soliciting sexual favors; clean energy jobs grew four times faster than other sectors of Minnesota’s economy; and more. Inc's headquarters is pictured in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle.
REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

We’ll give you the Mississippi River, the Vikings, General Mills …. As pretty much every American city/state lines up to … give it up for Amazon, Rachel Stassen-Berger of the PiPress writes: “Amazon made the possibility awfully enticing. The project would house as complete a headquarters as its Seattle base, which it claims brought 53,000 jobs to the city as well as a nearly $26 billion payroll. Amazon is soliciting bids through Oct. 19. Minnesota checks many of the boxes Amazon says it is looking for. It clearly has ‘metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people’ and ‘urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent,’ … .’”

For the AP Kyle Potter says: “State and local leaders swear the Twin Cities are a perfect fit. The state’s economy has been rock solid for years. Housing costs are low compared to many other big cities. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is never more than a short drive away. Minnesota is already home to more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, including Target, Best Buy, 3M and UnitedHealth.  … any taxpayer-backed incentive package for Amazon would likely dwarf the state’s previous efforts.”

About the competition, Nick Wingfield and Patricia Cohen of The New York Times say: “By the end of the day, cities including Chicago, Dallas and San Diego, along with states like Michigan, were vocal about their interest, the first of many places expected to consider submitting proposals. Amazon has laid out in meticulous detail what it is looking for, even acknowledging that new laws may be required to get the high level of incentives necessary to hold the company’s attention.”

And heck, even Ol’ Sooch is making warm-ish, fuzzy-ish sounds. In the PiPress, Joe Soucheray writes: “Will some politician set aside for a moment the desperation to ban plastic bags and menthol cigarettes and please prepare an application? This is Amazon, not Bob’s Boat Anchors R Us. None of us can even imagine the technological innovation that will be embedded in that new facility. And if traffic is still feared by that number of new employees, I would imagine that by the time the headquarters is built Amazon will figure out a way to drone the employees to work or teleport them in.” But what about the impact on property taxes?

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For KMSP-TV, Allie Johnson has this on the teenage girl who escaped after 29 days of captivity. “[Jasmine] Block told police that [Thomas] Barker, [Steven] Powers and [Joshua ] Holby attempted to kill her several times. Twice, Barker allegedly tried to drown her in the bathtub. In another incident, a rope was reportedly placed around her neck while she was forced to stand on a bucket. Holby then forced her off the bucket and Block said she was unable to breathe.”

And the Forum News Service has this on the story: “[Thomas Barker] has cerebral palsy and uses a walker to get around, but was able to clean his house and work on his cars, [his mother] said. At one point, he ran Lakes Area Taxi in Alexandria. ‘Even though he’s disabled, he can pretty much do anything,’ she said. ‘I would say he’s pretty smart.’ Her son is married and has six children, including a month-old son with his current wife, she said.”  

The data isn’t pretty. Christopher Magan of the PiPress says: “The number of Minnesotans dying of drug overdoses continues to climb at an alarming rate, and state health officials hope a new database will improve their response to the epidemic. Last year, 637 Minnesota residents died from drug overdoses, a 9.2 percent increase over 2015, when 583 people died, according to data released Thursday on the Minnesota Department of Health’s new Opioid Dashboard. The state’s drug overdose death rate is now nearly six times higher than it was in 2000.

The Strib’s Stephen Montemayor reports, “Two Minnesota women have sued the federal government, alleging that a former probation officer solicited sexual favors and demanded nude photos while he supervised them in separate cases, and their lawyer said he expects more victims to step forward. The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday, is based on alleged conduct by Dennis Bresnahan while he served as a probation officer from 2014 through late last year.”

In far more pleasant news, Bill Hudson of WCCO-TV says: “‘Clean energy jobs grew four times faster than all other sectors of the state’s economy,’ said Gregg Mast, of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota. The industry added nearly 2,900 jobs last year. A decade ago, Minnesota set a goal of getting 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. We’re nearly there. So lawmakers are pushing to double that with the Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard, which would seek to have 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030.”