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Viewing posts categorised under: Editorials

The Government Affair

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

What’s in Store For You…
It’s no secret… This four-part educational series will commence this September and is perfect for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of civic affairs. Whether your experience with government is limited to voting for elected officials or you lobby your representatives on a weekly basis, this program will walk you through a comprehensive, non-partisan, grassroots experience at the local, state and federal level. This program will challenge participants to stretch their knowledge on all levels of government while learning from and networking with other business people and influential leaders.
How Can I Benefit?
  • Individual Benefits: Develop a great network of individuals who play an active role in the business community; become a more effective and influential leader at work by understanding the process of civic affairs; and learn transferable tools for your professional tool box.
  • Employer Benefits: Gain company exposure; and develop a strong employee who understands civic affairs and increases their leadership talent within the organization.
  • Community Benefits: Support active participation in the community; and further engage the local talent in grassroots initiatives on all levels of government.
Series Investment: $199

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Statewide Policy Tour Makes First Stop in South St. Paul to Deliver 2017 Legislative Wrap-Up

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials

Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul (June 2017) – As a member of the Minnesota Chamber Federation, the River Heights Chamber of Commerce was proud to have long-time member, Waterous Company, host the first stop on the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Statewide Policy Tour on May 31st in South St. Paul.

A little history about our host: Waterous has been making quality, American-Made firefighting related products since 1886. Waterous made complete apparatus including horse-drawn, steam-driven hose carts until 1929 when the focus changed to manufacture fire pumps. NOW – Waterous still builds revolutionary fire suppression systems and holds true to the philosophy “Cast, Machine, Assemble and Test our pumps in America.” You can count on Waterous to provide you with the utmost in quality products and customer service.

Statewide Policy Tour: The tour included 25 business representatives from Inver Grove Heights, South St. Paul, Eagan, Bloomington, St. Paul and surrounding communities who got to hear from Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Director of Environmental Policy and Director of Education & Workforce Development from the Minnesota Chamber, first-hand (days after the special session concluded), on results of the Federation’s legislative priorities that have weighed on businesses and families in our communities over the past year and prior.

The Minnesota Chamber lobbying team noted, “The Minnesota Chamber clearly delivered on your priorities this year. All the top priorities were signed into law except for one – the Uniform State Labor Standards Act – and that passed both the House and Senate, only to be vetoed by Governor Dayton. Our legislative victories will better position your company, and all of Minnesota, to be ready for the future – ready for change and ready to grow.”  They added, “The Legislature went into special session to avoid a government shutdown. Governor Dayton signed all the budget bills and tax bills, but more negotiations may be coming. He line-item vetoed the House and Senate legislative budgets in an attempt to force leadership back to the table to undo provisions he already signed into law: the repeal of the automatic inflator on the statewide business property tax levy and cigarette taxes; the increase in the estate tax threshold; teacher licensing reforms; and rulemaking prohibitions on drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants. His vetoes are headed for a court challenge.”

The conclusion of this legislative session highlighted significant progress on a range of business needs stated below. Our successes are at the foundation of your success.

  • BUSINESS TAX RELIEF: We delivered biggest tax relief for all Minnesotans since 2001
  • TRANSPORTATION: We delivered largest investment in roads and bridges since 2008 – without increase in taxes or fees
  • HEALTH CARE: We delivered more options for small businesses to provide employee coverage
  • LAWSUIT REFORM: We delivered protection for businesses targeted with abusive lawsuits
  • ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS: We delivered reasonable and responsible improvements to state environmental review and permitting
  • EDUCATION/WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT: We delivered on workforce needs including K-12 reforms, early learning, housing and childcare funding
  • LABOR/MANAGEMENT: We preserved the effectiveness of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council process
  • ENERGY AND TELECOM: We delivered savings on energy costs and improved communications infrastructure

UNIFORM LABOR STANDARDS
Our biggest disappointment was the Governor’s veto of the Uniform State Labor Standards Act that would have explicitly prevented local governments from mandating local wage and benefit packages on private employers. We adamantly oppose government interference – at any level – in private-sector employee benefits, especially a local patchwork of mandates,” added the Minnesota Chamber.

Our lawsuit continues against the city of Minneapolis. The Minneapolis and St. Paul paid sick and safe time ordinances are scheduled to go into effect July 1. The Hennepin County District Court has ruled that Minneapolis may not enforce its ordinance against “any employer resident outside the geographic boundaries of the city of Minneapolis” until there’s a decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals. As a result, St. Paul is imposing its ordinance only on those businesses with a physical location within its boundaries. Our lawsuit is scheduled for a July 11 hearing before the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which then must issue a decision within 90 days.

Members of the business community shared the following items they would like to see the Minnesota Chamber Federation continue to work on and advocate for in the 2018 Legislative Session: create uniform labor standards, create more health care cost solutions for small businesses and individual plans, secure social security tax relief and education reform for ensuring effective teachers and funding for early childhood education.

For more detailed information on each priority’s results, please visit the River Heights Chamber’s website here.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

Stay Connected with the River Heights Chamber on our social media sites FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

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Annual River Heights Chamber Golf Classic Open to Community

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials, Event News, Marketing, Social Media

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul (June 2017) – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce invites the community to golf in the Chamber’s Annual Golf Classic fundraiser on Monday, June 26, 2017 at Southview Country Club at 239 E. Mendota Road in West St. Paul. This year’s tournament is presented by Republic Services.

Southview Country Club is a premier 18-hole course whose sheer aesthetic beauty lies in stark contrast to the challenge it provides to golfers of every skill level. It is the kind of course you never grow tired of playing, and are always proud to bring your guests to.  Today, Southview is noted for its immaculate rolling fairways, mature trees, numerous water hazards featuring fountains and magnificent landscaping.  And of course, the finest greens in this part of the country.

June 26th is promised to be filled with fun including a Bloody Mary bar while you get checked-in and practice your swings, contests on the course, and a ball drop contest and awards dinner following the day’s play.  Registration begins at 10 a.m., with a shot gun start for teams at 11:00 a.m.  An online auction will be sure to please with great items prior to the tournament and closes at 6:00 p.m. on June 26th (click here to check out the Online Auction). If you would like to donate an item, gift card or fun experience to the auction, click here!

“We’re excited to have another great tournament this year and have fun events in-store for this year’s golfers,” says Travis Jensen of Home Federal Savings Bank and Golf Task Force Chair.

Special thanks to these businesses for being major sponsors of the tournament: CHS, Inc., Home Federal Savings Bank, Quality Auto Care Center, Sanimax and Town Square Television.

Golf is $175/golfer after June 1st; a discounted rate of $600 per foursome is available throughout open registration and payments are due upon reservation.  Additional guests may attend the awards dinner only for $35/person to network and socialize.  For more information on the golf tournament or to register to attend, visit us online at www.riverheights.com/golf or call the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

Stay Connected with the River Heights Chamber on our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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Congratulations Hardline Concrete & Masonry – 2017 Small Business of the Year!

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

Watch Hardline Concrete & Masonry’s Small Business Award video from the River Heights Chamber of Commerce by clicking on the image below…

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Hardline Concrete & Masonry Honored with 2017 Small Business of the Year Award 28th Anniversary of Small Business Award in Local Business Community

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing, Social Media

March 30, 2017

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce that Hardline Concrete & Masonry of Inver Grove Heights will receive the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Business of the Year Award! Jon and Brenda Dietrich, owners, will be accepting the award at the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Small Business Award Luncheon & Trade Show on Thursday, April 13, 2017 from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at enVision Hotel & Conference Center in South St. Paul.

The Small Business of the Year Award acknowledges an organization that has been in business for five years or more, has 20 or fewer employees, has at least two years of membership in the River Heights Chamber, and encompasses a business that has a commitment to the community through its involvement and assistance to community organizations, to its employees, suppliers and customer relationships, in addition to a commitment to excellence in service, business ethics, friendliness and business operations. Chamber member businesses nominated local small businesses and the Chamber’s Recognition Committee selected the award recipient from many deserving applicants.  This year’s recipient, Hardline Concrete & Masonry, excels in all these areas and more.  When Hardline was asked how they feel about receiving this award, Brenda replied, “We feel truly honored to be recognized for the River Heights Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Award because being recognized by a group of your peers is a good yardstick to be measured by.  There are so many deserving businesses and we are very humbled to be selected.” 

Hardline Concrete & Masonry started as a sole proprietor in 2005, doing mainly commercial and industrial work. When incorporating in 2009, they shifted business to completing more residential and decorative work. While they are grateful for fundamental commercial work, they feel their true passion lies with being able to help customers create their artistic vision for their yard and home.  Jon and Brenda pride themselves in doing the job correctly the first time and being primarily a referral-based business.  They form relationships with their customers and treat every job as if it was their own when they leave their Hardline logo stamped in the concrete.  When it comes to employee relationships, they realize that being a seasonal employer can be challenging in employee retention.  In the past few years, Hardline has implemented some policies and benefits to let their employees know that they care for them, beyond the scope of a work day.  They faced adversity during the recession of 2009 but because of Hardline’s presence in the community they could continue to work.  Hardline Concrete & Masonry is involved in the community by supporting the local Inver Grove Heights Days, Simley wrestling and football and volunteering at their local church. Jon & Brenda strive to give competitive bids for local projects and have been privileged to work at the Inver Grove Community Center, Simley High School and various concrete projects for the City of Inver Grove Heights. Hardline Concrete & Masonry believes in small businesses succeeding and have recommended five other sole proprietors, LLC’s and corporations to join the River Heights Chamber of Commerce for continued success. Brenda is very active in the River Heights Chamber of Commerce and has served 1 year as an ambassador chair-elect, 1.5 years as an ambassador chair, has been a Board member since 2015 (and is currently Chair-Elect for 2017), served as a delegate for MN at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Summit 2015, received the River Heights Chamber Marshall award during the 2016 membership drive and was a member of the Southmetro Business PAC in 2016.  The River Heights Chamber is proud to have Hardline Concrete & Masonry as a dedicated member of the business community!

This year will be the 28th Anniversary of the River Heights Chamber celebrating this special award with the business community and is sponsored in-part by Town Square Television, Waterous Company and Antonsen Construction.  Community businesses will exhibit in the trade show at 11 a.m. followed by a luncheon, award ceremony and keynote speaker, Jill Renslow SVP Business Development and Marketing with Mall of America.

For more details about attending the Small Business Award Luncheon & Trade Show, visit www.riverheights.com, and to learn more about the Chamber’s award winner, Hardline Concrete & Masonry, please watch their video on the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/riverheightschamber following the event on April 13th.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

Stay Connected with the River Heights Chamber on our social media sites!

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Media Release: River Heights Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Local Business Leaders

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News

River Heights Chamber of Commerce Recognizes Local Business Leaders
Tandem Printing, Inc. Business of the Year & Beth Baumann, Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence Award

During the River Heights Chamber of Commerce and Progress Plus Annual Meeting on February 23, 2017, at Southview Country Club in West St. Paul, the Chamber thanked its 2016 Chairman, Brian MacKenzie of FASTSIGNS – IGH, and welcomed Jon Erickson of Ultimate Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning as the 2017 Chairman of the Board.  Highlights of 2016 were shared including event successes, increased membership engagement, efficiencies in communications and marketing, and relationship building with our newly elected officials.

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The River Heights Chamber of Commerce proudly announced Tandem Printing, Inc. as the 2017 Business of the Year.  Tandem Printing was founded in 1954 by Bob & Marilyn Jensen of Richfield, MN. For 37 years, the Jensen’s established a reputation for quality, reliability, service and integrity as they built their company working in “Tandem” as a husband and wife team. As the years passed by, the appeal of retirement became stronger and in 1991 a new “Tandem”, John Kostka and Steve Kane, acquired the company and have continued those values and tradition. Tandem is active in Printing Industry of Minnesota events which keeps them current on industry trends.  They encourage participation in the River Heights Chamber, professional networking groups and many local, national and international non-profits. Tandem’s goal is and always has been to reinvest in the company. Over the course of 26 years, John and Steve have grown the company by adding equipment to further their product offerings and by acquiring companies to fit the needs and demands of their existing clients.  During their transition, Tandem moved from Bloomington to Eagan and secured the tag line WE PRINT. ON ANYTHING.  Steve & John pride themselves on the fact that they’ve grown from 4 employees in Richfield to 33 in Eagan in just 26 years. The belief of all partners at Tandem was shared as follows, “The future growth and success as a company and as individuals depends on our mutual respect and cooperation and on each other of our company’s objectives. We maintain a reputation as a client focused company which strives to achieve excellence always.

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The Chamber was also honored to award Beth Baumann the River Heights Chamber’s 2016 Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence Award.  Beth is the former Mayor of South St. Paul after tirelessly serving her community for 14 years.  She provided great leadership in making South St. Paul a wonderful community to live, work and play. Under her direction, the Economic Development Authority was established to assist businesses looking to grow or locate in South St. Paul and to search for new business opportunities. Beth was instrumental in establishing the Mayors Youth Task Force to give kids the opportunity to do something positive for their community. It has become an extremely successful group and the kids love Mayor B.!  In addition to the River Heights Chamber and Progress Plus, Beth has been actively involved in organizations such as Neighbors, Inc., Dakota Futures, SMFD and Relay for Life.  Beth is enthusiastic and empowering, and truly exceeds in all criteria for this award, which encompass a commitment to the betterment of life, business, community and entrepreneurship for the River Heights region.

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Also awarded at the Annual meeting were Amanda Kissner of Wakota Federal Credit Union as the 2016 Rising Star recipient. The award is given to a volunteer who has accelerated in their first few years as a Chamber volunteer by displaying leadership, enthusiasm and passion for the Chamber’s mission.  Bruce Bairaktaris was recognized as the 2016 Ambassador of the Year for earning the most points as a Chamber Ambassador throughout the year.  The Ambassadors are the welcoming arm of the Chamber who visit members, attend grand openings and serve as greeters and mentors for Chamber members.

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Jon Erickson, 2017 Chairman, extended a welcome to the group and his vision for the Chamber to work together and create a “Culture of Unity.” “We are stronger together and connected through the relationships we make through our memberships in the Chamber.

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Minnesota State Representative Rick Hansen planned to facilitate a legislative panel, however, he and Representative Barr and Representative Franke were called into session at the Capitol as they debated Real ID among other things on the House Floor.  Former Chairman Kelton Glewwe filled in to facilitate the panel with our Senators.  In keeping with the night’s theme of unity, everyone got to know a little bit more about Senator Matt Klein and Senator Dan Schoen, as well as get their thoughts on important legislation.

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Special thanks to our featured event sponsors Town Square Television, Flint Hills Resources and Waterous Company, as well as major sponsors, Deerwood Bank, Xcel Energy, SKB Environmental and Progress Plus Economic Development Foundation.

For more details about the Chamber’s award winners, please watch their videos on the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/riverheightschamber and check out photos from the event on the River Heights Chamber’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RiverHeightsChamber.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce:
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

Stay connected with the River Heights Chamber of Commerce on our social media sites!

www.facebook.com/RiverHeightsChamber

www.twitter.com/RH_Chamber

www.instagram.com/riverheightschamber

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Fighting Workplace Mandates on Two Fronts

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials

Column By: Doug Loon, President of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

The Minnesota Chamber continues to challenge workplace mandates at the Legislature and in the courts. A recent court ruling underscores the importance of our parallel efforts.

A Minneapolis ordinance is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017, that requires businesses to provide paid sick time to employees. St. Paul has a similar ordinance scheduled to take effect the same date. Duluth is considering enacting its own set of workplace regulations. It’s only time before similar measures come to a city near you.

In October 2016, the Minnesota Chamber brought a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis asking the court to do two things: No. 1, issue a temporary injunction prohibiting the city from enforcing its “paid sick and safe time” ordinance on any businesses; No. 2, permanently rule the ordinance unlawful.

The Hennepin County District Court delivered a mixed ruling on January 19. Judge Mel I. Dickstein said Minneapolis may not enforce its ordinance on employers “resident outside the geographic boundaries of the city of Minneapolis.” He also ordered that, for now, the city could enforce the ordinance against employers within the city. We are appealing the decision.

The judge’s mixed ruling underscores the importance of our efforts at the Capitol to pass the Uniform State Labor Standards Act, which would prohibit local governments from passing their own mandates on wages, benefits and scheduling. The Act would keep Minnesota’s laws uniform, our communities open for business, and our economy thriving for all.

The legislation is being spearheaded by the United for Jobs Coalition, a broad-based coalition of local chambers of commerce and business associations led by the Minnesota Chamber.

We do not believe the state should dictate private-sector employee benefits. The only thing worse than state government dictating one-size-fits-all mandates on all employers is for local governments to do so, thus creating a patchwork of local laws for businesses to navigate across the state. Minnesota’s economic strength is due to a diverse business landscape. Distinctive operations and workplace needs require that employers have the flexibility to develop wages and salaries, benefits, policies and procedures that best serve the mutual needs of employer and employees.

Borrowing a sports phrase, the best defense is a strong offense. Minnesota employers consistently receive national recognition for providing tremendous workplace environments. We will continue to challenge workplace mandates. At the same time, legislators also need to hear about the voluntary wages and benefit plans employers use to attract and retain employees in this competitive marketplace. Minnesota businesses increasingly are offering leave plans that meet the needs of employees such as offer paid maternity and paternity leave, paid sick and safe leave, and other benefits– without state or local mandates. Please share your best practices by contacting Jennifer Byers at 651.292.4673 or jbyers@mnchamber.com.

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Welcome New Chamber Board Members!

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Marketing

Each New Year brings a new dynamic to the River Heights Chamber of Commerce with some new Board members, while saying good-bye to a few who have given their time and leadership for a number of years.  At the end of 2016, the Board of Directors said good-bye to Gail Sperlich (OnSITE Drug Testing & Consulting) and Tom Fleury (City Auto Glass).  In 2017, we’re happy to welcome new Chairman, Jon Erickson (Ultimate Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning) and new Board members Joe Gullerud (Bester Brothers Transfer), Michele Hein (Tandem Printing) and Luke Jenkins (Woodlyn Heights Senior Living).

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with these great individuals who govern our organization, uphold its mission and assist the Chamber in supporting our business communities.

Check out all the 2017 River Heights Chamber Board of Directors photos and companies here!

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Holiday Business Card Exchange & Volunteer Appreciation Open House

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials, Event News, Marketing

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with Langer Real Estate Services to celebrate their 25th Anniversary and to celebrate the River Heights Chamber’s member volunteers this year!

We hope you can join us for this Holiday Business Card Exchange & Chamber Volunteer Appreciation Open House:

Thursday, December 15, 2016
5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Southview Country Club, 239 E. Mendota Road, West St. Paul
(Fireside room)

There is no cost to attend the event, however, RSVP’s are appreciated – click here for more details.

The event is co-sponsored by Langer Real Estate Services and Dakota Electric Association.

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Voters Demand Progress at Legislature

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials

Voters Demand Progress at Legislature

By: Jennifer Gale, President, River Heights Chamber & Doug Loon, President Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

Change swept the nation in this year’s elections as America woke up to a President-Elect Donald Trump in his upset victory over Hillary Clinton. Change propelled the shakeup in Minnesota’s political landscape, too, as Minnesotans affirmed their support for divided government. The Legislature is now firmly Republican. The executive branch remains Democrat under Governor Mark Dayton.

Voters were also crystal clear about their expectations that the Governor and Legislature will govern – that they will work together to develop, debate and pass solutions to our state’s most pressing problems. No stalemates. No stagnation. Our policymakers must use the experience of the last two years to build a record of progress that all Minnesotans will be proud of. The River Heights Chamber, Minnesota Chamber and our local partners are ready to do our part.

The election offers some key takeaways:

  • Personal economics were on Minnesotans minds – especially health care, but also economic growth and wage growth. Everyone wants to be part of a growing economy.
  • Good candidates and hard work produce solid results.
  • The House and Senate are mirroring each other in the state’s political landscape. Democrats are being elected primarily in the urban core and are increasingly liberal; Republicans hail in primarily the outer ring suburbs and regional centers.
  • Republicans are making substantive gains in the suburbs that we have not seen for years.

The Senate now stands at 34 Republicans and 33 Democrats, according to unofficial results. Two races are within the vote totals that trigger automatic recounts. Margins in the House are larger with 76 Republicans and 57 Democrats elected. In addition, one House seat remains unresolved; a special election is scheduled for February 14 for District 32B.

We are ready to present, discuss and help pass solutions that will accelerate the development and growth of our local and statewide economy. The MN Chamber’s annual Minnesota Business Benchmarks provides an excellent springboard for our legislative agenda. The River Heights Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be reviewing these priorities for 2017:

  • Reduce business taxes that undermine growth, entrepreneurship and expansion of Minnesota businesses.
  • Pass long-term, comprehensive transportation package that increases investment in the state’s multimodal infrastructure.
  • Allow flexibility in workplace regulations and oppose one-size-fits-all mandates; pass statewide pre-emption of local labor mandates.
  • Provide employers with more options and greater flexibility in providing health care coverage for employees.

The election provides the political landscape for the 2017 Legislature. The budget forecast will set the financial parameters. The 2016 Legislature adjourned with a $729 million surplus for FY 2016/17 which will likely change in the December 2nd report.  We are most effective at the Capitol when we build relationships and elect legislators who understand business issues.

The 2017 Legislature convenes January 4, and our work has already begun. The election results are shaping our 2017 proposals. Now, policymakers and business leaders must work collectively to adopt them. That way we will be ready for the future – ready for change and ready to grow.

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