Spring is near, and so are robins—and also hundreds of thousands of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa retail shoppers, who are getting ready to purchase services, goods and sundries after another brutal winter. Hope your business does well. Buckle your seatbelt and away we go………

While at New Ulm Country Club honoring Mary Ellen Domeier of Bank Midwest in late December, the Editor spotted another former Connect Business Magazine cover person in attendance, Tom Rosen of 2,200-employee Rosen’s Diversified, headquartered in Fairmont. I say “another” because Domeier has been on our cover twice, the only person other than Glen Taylor to claim the honor. She was receiving an award from Northwestern Financial Review for her contributions to the banking industry, including being past president of the Minnesota Bankers Association. Though starting well, northern Iowa-bred Bank Midwest will need much more elbow grease to compete effectively in New Ulm long-term……..Having time to burn in Little Germany, I checked out the Schell’s Brewery visitor center/gift shop/museum and came away impressed. The new gift shop is more spacious than the former, and is tastefully done, not unlike Schmaltz’s Alt……..

Driving west of New Ulm, it’s apparent the new Wal-Mart has been attracting quite a few businesses to that side of town—almost as many businesses as the number of UFOs seeking out Rep. Dennis Kucinich. It’s a massive Wal-Mart, bigger than the one in Mankato, I’ve heard. Most of the new businesses moving in are national chains, with a few notable exceptions, such as Hunters Den. Menard’s purchased the former mini-Christensen Farms hog facility near Wal-Mart and its presence will undoubtedly jumpstart another west-side growth spurt……….

Within the last few months, the Editor has lost two friends: rural advocate Kathie Davis (featured Nov. ’02) and entrepreneur Rick McCluhan (Cover, July ’99). At Kathie’s funeral in Mankato, I counted four people who have been on the cover of Connect Business Magazine: Bob Weerts, Rep. Bob Gunther, Fred Lutz, and Wade Hensel. As for Rick McCluhan, well, he was Rick McCluhan, and I enjoyed eating lunch with him at Sidelines one week before his death. In personality and lifestyle, he and I were poles apart, yet we enjoyed talking smart about politics………..

While in Waseca covering Lake Shore Inn, the Editor learned that Mary and Wayne Dankert of Walter’s Publishing (featured Sept. ’05) last year sold their successful book publishing business to North Mankato-based Taylor Corporation. The Dankerts still work there……..

Lyle Stevermer, owner of what used to be known as Meter-Man (featured May ’02), said in a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview that he sold his measuring wheel division to a South Korean firm and changed the company name to Visions Inc. Stevermer stressed this point: “We sold the Meter-Man logo, trademark, and inventory, but not the agriculture division, which includes electric fences, cooling systems for livestock and poultry, and acreage counters.” The 40-year-old agriculture division, which will remain in Vernon Center, accounted for about 50 percent of company revenues prior to the sell off. The sale had been in the works for more than two years……….

At year’s end, the Editor received a press release from “The Legislative Commission to End Poverty by 2020,” which announced forthcoming rallies in St. Peter, St. James and Mankato, presumably to build momentum for legislative offerings. Sen. John Marty and Rep. Carlos Mariani co-chaired the group. Said Marty, “When hard-working people—the people who drive our economy—cannot afford even basic necessities, we must recognize that poverty is the result of choices we make, how we tap our resources, how we define the rules of our economy”………. Perhaps my mind has been warped on this topic, but I believe Minnesota ended real poverty decades ago. In rural Africa, many people go without electricity, indoor plumbing, accessible public buildings, public restrooms, modern medical care, decent drinking water, televisions, microwave ovens, telephones, automobiles, and public transportation—and many sleep on dirt floors, utilize open sewers, and live in homes open to the elements. People with twisted legs from polio crawl in public on all fours. They live on $500 a year. This is real poverty, and I’ve seen it firsthand, and if anyone can find just one Minnesotan that must live in it, I will wholeheartedly support the “Legislative Commission to End Poverty by 2020” post haste……….

Finally, from the Fordham Foundation newsletter, another: “It’s the end of the world as we know it” moment. In November 2002, Floridians amended their state constitution to limit public school class sizes. Pre-K through third-grade classes could have no more than 18 children, for example. The idea seemed peaches and cream until this year when Floridians finally realized that massive bussing of students and even more massive new school construction projects likely had to occur in order to reach the new constitutional mandates. The class size change officially takes place this fall………The Editor remembers his days at Pleasant Ridge Elementary (Cincinnati), where our sixth grade in 1971 had 36 kids per class, kids that would grow up to become the CFO of Beacon Partners (David Fogel), the editor of National Civic Review (Robert Loper), a world-renowned University of Kentucky chemist (Dr. Robert Lodder), and the sports agent for Ken Griffey Jr. (Brian Goldberg). Now imagine what they could have accomplished in life with a class size of 18…………

Smile. That’s it for now. Can’t wait to unveil the May issue, a real page-turner.

Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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