Off-the-Cuff

This month dandelions begin popping and outdoor grills warming. Hopefully, your company sales will heat up along with spring weather. We hope you enjoy another edition of our area’s only locally owned business magazine. That said, buckle your seat belts and away we go….

First, a sad note: Mankatoan Lowell Andreas (cover story, July ’02) passed away April 4. Along with brother Dwayne, Lowell was a former co-owner of Honeymead, and together they started a bank that became National City Bank. He also was a former president of Archer Daniels Midland, longtime ADM board member, major ADM stockholder, long-time HickoryTech board member, racehorse owner, close friend of the late Hubert Humphrey, and a major philanthropist benefiting MSU and ISJ-Mayo. His West Mankato home was on the wooded hillside above Glen Taylor’s property. The Editor regularly enjoyed talking with Lowell about politics and religion and life—and many times we agreed to disagree….

While on a day trip, the Editor and his family braked at the SPAM Museum in Austin. Paulsen Architects (featured March ’08 and Nov. ’03) designed this edifice lionizing an iconic brand of canned pork. The museum was an enjoyable experience from snout to tail, packed with information, fun interactive areas, and videos, including the always hilarious, 1970s-era Monty Python SPAM skit. (SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, sausage, and SPAM!) Anyway, all this caused the Editor to imagine what could happen to regional tourism if Kraft were to build a New Ulm museum for its cheesy chow-down favorite, Velveeta. Ahem: Didn’t you know Kraft New Ulm manufactures nearly all the nation’s Velveeta?….

During one stretch, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation-sponsored Futures Summit at MSU in March was showcasing people with completely different ideas on how to accomplish the same goal—that of creating more jobs in southern Minnesota. The point-counterpoint seemed surreal, but also was a great way to recognize competing visions….For example, Gov. Tim Pawlenty warned about the potentially destabilizing effect of Minnesota’s high-tax culture, saying: “We (Minnesota) are in danger of pricing ourselves out of the market. That basket of costs (for businesses) needs to be reasonable and competitive. If not, it will drive job growth to other places.” In essence, he was saying less government could create more new jobs….Of course, Sen. Amy Klobuchar had a different opinion. She said the $800 billion Obama economic stimulus plan would bring “66,000 jobs back to Minnesota” and “7,000 new jobs” to the First Congressional District. If Klobuchar’s claims materialize, the nine counties around Mankato can expect about 2,200 new jobs, we figure. This would just about equal the number of jobs currently at Kraft New Ulm, Kato Engineering , Mankato Clinic, New Ulm Medical Center, and Le Sueur’s Cambria—combined. Perhaps we’ll have a labor shortage, you think?….

A Fedgazette article discussing the possibility of the current recession leading to a higher crime rate was one interesting read nearly making this issue’s Business Trends. The Fedgazette quoted Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak saying, “When the economy is bad, people do desperate things they wouldn’t otherwise do.” (Rybak’s thoughts tie-in well with the increase in possible economy-induced discrimination charges filed against employers, as cited in Business Trends. The popular wisdom is that not only will desperate people do desperate things in bad times, but they will also become more emboldened and successful at crime after shrinking state and local budgets force police cutbacks. What the Fedgazette found in its exhaustive analysis was more complex, however. Generally, high unemployment rates translate to more crime and higher clearance rates—the ratio of the number of arrests to the number of offenses—mean less. But there are so many other variables unanalyzed yet, they wrote. That said, if crime does increase significantly in parts of southern Minnesota, a number of businesses could profit, including alarm system companies, security firms and private detectives, insurance agents from selling new policies, lock and key companies, and many others….

Finally, last issue, the Editor asked Off-the-Cuff readers to send birthday cards to William Carlson (featured Nov. ’96), the founder of Carlson Craft, who was celebrating his 94th birthday. Later, when the Editor visited Carlson, “Bill” couldn’t understand at first why this year he had received so many birthday cards. “So you’re the one responsible for all this,” he deadpanned. After beginning his company in 1948, Carlson later hired Glen Taylor (cover story, Sept. ’05 and Nov. ’96). Thanks to all for brightening a special man’s day….


Daniel Vance

Daniel Vance

A former Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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