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Harrison Smith Joins Paul Allen for Big Game Gala ‘Halftime’ Show

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials, Event News, Marketing, Social Media

Posted Dec 6, 2017
Credit: Craig Peters, vikings.com


BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Harrison Smith is used to going full-throttle for four quarters, but on Tuesday night, the Vikings safety was part of the “halftime” show.

Smith joined “Voice of the Vikings” Paul Allen for an on-stage chat between meal courses as the River Heights Chamber of Commerce held a “Big Game Gala” at the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America.

As Allen was introducing Smith to the crowd, he mentioned fielding variations of the same question from guests about how what’s been a good season so far might conclude.

“I have no idea where this ends, where this 10-2 is going to go,” said Allen, who is in his 16th year of covering the team.

He said this year’s team is “unique” from any that he’s seen in more than a decade and a half. Allen expressed optimism and encouraged the enjoyment of every moment down the final stretch.

“Just enjoy it every single week, and we’ll see where it goes,” Allen said.

Smith, sharply dressed in a suit and tie, hopped up on the stage and immediately drew ribbing from Allen for not wearing socks, which Smith attributed to a fashion tip from fellow safety Andrew Sendejo.

Smith said the Vikings haven’t looked beyond Sunday’s meeting with the Panthers and explained how the approach goes beyond the one-game-at-a-time cliché.

“I think everyone remembers being pretty excited when we started 5-0 and ended up 8-8 last year, so that’s kind of a learning experience of what not to do,” Smith said. “I think that helps, as far as not getting ahead of ourselves.

“Also, I think the biggest thing is we have a group of guys that really enjoys playing football, which sounds kind of silly because we’re getting paid to play a child’s game, which is the best-case scenario, so how could you not love it? But for some guys, it can get kind of monotonous, the grind of every week,” Smith continued. “Around the league, that’s just how it is. That’s not how it is here. This team loves football, and I think it’s easy to go one day at a time when you love what you’re doing.”

Smith said he thinks Xavier Rhodes is “the best” cornerback in the league. When asked by Allen if Sendejo is wild or calculated, he explained how the safety is using a “weird mix of both” successfully.

Two other highlights from Allen’s Q&A included:

On Anthony Barr:

“He’s one of those guys you look at who is supremely talented,” Smith said. “He can run with anybody, is big and strong and can play multiple positions, and he also calls our defenses and gets us aligned. He’s kind of the one who says, you know, he kind of gets us going when we give up a couple of plays here and there, he says, ‘All right guys, time to stop messing around.’ He’s been a force for us.”

On Case Keenum:

“He just has this moxie about him, so it’s definitely not arrogant, but he just has a lot of self-confidence where you know he has it and he doesn’t have to tell you about it,” Smith said. “This quarterback situation, where we have three guys that have all at some point in their career been playing top-notch, you just don’t see that a lot around the league. Most teams can’t find one. If that’s the problem we have, I’ll take it.”

Allen opened the session to questions from the crowd, and one guest asked his thoughts of U.S. Bank Stadium.

“Normally players don’t get to see a lot of stadiums,” Smith said. “We just see the locker room and the field, but this one, I think, has honestly surpassed every player’s expectation. Last year, we kind of went in and played. It was awesome and loud, especially for the defense. It looks beautiful in the city, as well.

“In the offseason, when we had more time to come back to events that were held there, we really appreciated from more of the fan side of it, how many different areas and things are there that can be put to use,” Smith continued. “I got to go to the X-Games and thought that was the coolest thing.

“There’s not a ton of home-field advantages in the NFL,” Smith added. “That’s more of a college football thing, but in my opinion, I think we have the best home-field advantage.”

Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Lester Bagley provided an update on the team’s future headquarters, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, which is scheduled for completion on March 1.

Bagley said 220 workers from 38 contractors, including 34 Minnesota-based companies, are working on the headquarters that also will be able to host youth and high school sports and other events.

“It’s really a community asset,” Bagley told attendees. “Our vision is to share it with the community and partner not only with high school sports but our Minnesota Vikings Foundation.”

Smith, who attended the formal groundbreaking of TCO Performance Center in summer 2016, said he enjoyed learning about the site’s progress and chatting with guests about the Vikings season and Minnesota hosting Super Bowl LII in less than two months.

“It was great to see how excited the community is about [TCO Performance Center] and how excited the businesses are for Minnesota hosting the Super Bowl,” Smith said. “You can tell how excited the community is, how much pride the people have in the Vikings and what the organization means to them. That adds even more respect for our fans and the organization that I’m fortunate to play for.”

Local band Highwood (featuring Jon Erickson, Kelton Glewwe, Steve Snelling, Steve Sorenson and Lee Swenson) concluded the evening with live music.

Click here to see photos from the Big Game Gala

Click here to see post from Vikings

Who’s On the River Heights Chamber’s Most Wanted List? How Can You Help?

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

Click on the image to see the Top 10 Most Wanted Businesses in Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul to apprehend during the River Heights Chamber’s Most Wanted Membership Campaign and learn the Top 5 Reasons to Join the Chamber!

Have a hot lead? Report any info to the Chamber Tipline at 651.451.2266 ext. 1032 or email 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!

Read more about what businesses can get from a Chamber of Commerce here.

10,000 Business Grant – Dakota County Business Recycling Grant

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

The County is currently offering almost any business in Dakota County up to $10,000 plus technical assistance and training to employees, for companies to increase recycling, renovate their dumpster enclosures, purchase new bins, or begin collecting organics for composting.

“I truly can’t think of a down-side to this grant,” says Cassandra Schueller, Recycling Coordinator for Dakota County. The County partnered with Waste Wise which is an organization that helps businesses reach their diversion goals.

Show your stakeholders and community you’re committed to a healthier environment.

Your business plays an important role in helping keep our air, water and land clean. A robust recycling program says you mean business when it comes to conserving our natural resources and demonstrating your organization’s commitment to sustainability and your community. And, recycling more may help your bottom line.

For most businesses in Dakota County it’s the law to recycle at least three materials such as paper, glass, plastic, metal and organics including food waste and non-recyclable paper.

Dakota County has resources to help your business – check them out here: BusinessRecyclingProgramHandout

Learn more about the Dakota County Business Recycling Program Grant here

Big Game Gala

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing


You’re Invited to Attend for an Exclusive Game Day Experience

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce wants to invite the community and their friends and colleagues to participate in the Big Game Gala presented in partnership with the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, at the JW Marriott at Mall of America in Bloomington.  The event will be held from 6-10 p.m. and include confirmed featured guests Minnesota Vikings #22 Harrison Smith and Paul Allen of KFAN, as well as executives from the Minnesota Vikings!

We know that everyone won’t be able to attend Super Bowl LII, but everyone can participate in the celebration at the Big Game Gala,” excitedly announced Jennifer Gale, President of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce and Progress Plus Economic Development Foundation.  The Big Game Gala’s vision is to foster excitement, engagement, and awareness within the River Heights community of the positive impact the Minnesota Vikings bring to our region by hosting Super Bowl LII and relocating their headquarters and practice facilities to the area.

“We are excited to partner with the Minnesota Vikings to bring this exclusive event to our members and community partners.  At the Big Game Gala, we will hear more about the opening of the new Vikings facility in Eagan and Super Bowl LII being hosted by Minneapolis in 2018.  Our hope is to bring business leaders, their families and employees together for an evening of fun, all while enjoying a “Big Game” dining experience,” shared Michele Hein, Gala Chair, River Heights Chamber Board Member.

At a glance, a ticket gets you into the following evening’s activities:
6:00 p.m. – Pre-Game with Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders
7:00 p.m. – Kick-Off Dinner
Half-Time – Features special guests Minnesota Viking Harrison Smith and KFAN’S Paul Allen, as well as Minnesota Vikings executives providing a sneak peek into Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Post-Game Entertainment by local band Highwood (Jon Erickson, Kelton Glewwe, Steve Snelling, Steve Sorenson and Lee Swenson).

Cocktail or business attire is recommended. Tickets are $150 per person, and discounted reserved tables of 8 and VIP Experience tickets are also available.  RSVP by Monday, November 27, 2017. Payment is due upon registration. Cancellation Policy: No refunds for reservations canceled within 72 hours of event date.

To get your Big Game Gala ticket or to see more details as they unfold, please visit the Chamber’s website at www.riverheights.com/biggamegala or call the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266 extension 1037.

Book your group rate for River Heights Chamber of Commerce Gala

This is a photo of Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings NFL football team. This image reflects the Minnesota Vikings active roster as of Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo)

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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A Consideration for All Business Owners

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Marketing

What Can You Get from a Chamber of Commerce?

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul If you are a small business owner and have a few dollars left to spare as the year wraps up, how do you choose where to invest it?  If you have been on the fence about joining a chamber of commerce, here are some things to consider…

A Chamber of Commerce is a group that is dedicated to protecting and promoting the local business community. Does that mission align with your values when you started your business?  What’s its primary goal? To help business owners network and grow.

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce has a good reputation, and many consumers have positive perceptions of members and their businesses.  In fact, you may be interested to know that according to a 2012 study conducted by the Schapiro Group, 49% of consumers were more likely to think favorably of a local business if it was a member of its local Chamber — and 80% were more likely to purchase a product or service from a Chamber member.

The average cost of membership depends on the size and number of employees your business has. Many small business memberships fall into the $30 per month range.  That’s not a lot, considering the monthly benefits you receive.

If you ask around, you will hear that most members think their membership is worth it, and they will remind you that you get what you put in — that means attending events, volunteering and getting involved.  Overall, most business owners feel a Chamber of Commerce membership is a must-have. There aren’t many cons — it’s an affordable group that will foster immediate connections and promote your business.

Chambers of Commerce are still relevant despite advancements in technology and online networking. The River Heights Chamber members receive numerous promotional perks, exclusive advertising and networking options and additional exposure for their companies or organizations.

The Chamber of Commerce isn’t a magical business solution where you’ll see immediate ROI. No matter what, you’ll have to work hard to get what you want out of it. Yet, if you are a small business owner, you already know that because you take the risk every day.  Thank you to all the business owners in the River Heights region!

New Educational Leadership Series from the River Heights Chamber of Commerce

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

The Government Affair: New Educational Leadership Series from the River Heights Chamber of Commerce

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul – One of the River Heights Chamber’s goals this year was set to educate and Invigorate member involvement in advocacy with social media or an event.  Historically, the River Heights Chamber of Commerce has led the Dakota County Leadership Academy to build community leaders within the local Chamber of Commerce membership, however, the area Chambers have not revived the leadership program since the economic downturn more than 5 years ago, leaving a gap in leadership training through the Chamber.  Staff combined the goals of the Board of Directors with the desire to offer members a training opportunity to become more engaged in the community, in their business and in the Chamber.

The following course was developed with Connolly Kuhl Group in partnership with the Minnesota Retailers Association and approved by the Chamber’s Board of Directors for the Fall of 2017.

“Whether it be at the municipal, state, or federal level, advocacy is a crucial part of influencing how decisions are made. We consistently see businesses wanting to advocate on behalf of issues that will directly affect them, but do not know how to effectively do so. The Government Affair is a great opportunity for companies big and small to not only expand their knowledge of civic affairs, but learn how to actively engage with elected officials to benefit their organization and the business community,” stated Carl Kuhl, Connolly Kuhl Group.

What’s in Store for You…

It’s no secret… This four-part educational series from the River Heights Chamber of Commerce 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.

Jennifer Gale, President of the River Heights Chamber noted, “The Government Affair will challenge and motivate course graduates to make a difference in their organization and community by learning about the grassroots process that keep our local communities a good place to do business in.”  Understanding how the process works is critical to influencing decisions being made every day impacting you and your customers. The Government Affair turns observers into power players,” added Bruce Nustad, President, Minnesota Retailers Association.

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.

Meet Me…

This four-part series will meet from 1 p.m.  to 4 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month from September to December at a location relevant to the topic.  Each class will follow with an optional afterglow at a local establishment.

  • September 19, 2017 – Learn about the local commissions, city council process, development reviews and the role local government plays in sustaining a successful business community. Hear from city staff, elected officials and economic development professionals.
  • October 17, 2017 – Learn about the state legislature, lobbying, passing bills out of committees, how to participate in a grassroots campaign and who the players are. Hear from elected officials, capitol staff and professional lobbyists.
  • November 21, 2017 – Learn about federal government issues that affect Minnesota businesses. Get an inside perspective into Washington D.C. and how legislation impacts our local companies.  Hear from Fortune 100 government affairs professionals, congressional official/staff and a federal agency official.
  • December 19, 2017 – Learn how to influence democracy. Participants will learn how to effectively participate in a grassroots campaign for your company.  Graduation Ceremony to follow – guests are welcome.

 Series Investment: $199
The investment fee covers all course materials and graduation ceremony.  Series sponsorships are available. Contact the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266 or apply online at www.riverheights.com/thegovernmentaffair.

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!

Progress Plus ED Foundation Partners with City of Inver Grove Heights to Plant Your Business Here

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Marketing

The City of Inver Grove Heights is looking to attract new businesses to the area and Progress Plus is here to lend a helping hand.

There’s a place that’s not too far from Minnesota’s metro core. It’s at the heart of where the pulse of business beats strong.

It’s a place where good business and healthy living come together to make more than good sense for anyone looking to start or relocate a business.

This place called River Heights is where opportunity and the spirit of business soar to new heights; bringing prosperity and a higher quality of life to those who come this way.

Why Inver Grove Heights?

Move to a Receptive Climate for Business

Inver Grove Heights is a beautiful community rising gently from the banks of the Mississippi. It has good soil, rolling hills and dense groves of hardwood trees. It holds the promise of being a good place to grow.

Our community is one that suits itself well to fostering a high quality of life. That’s why college, secondary and primary schools, parks, playgrounds and open spaces are a big part of our developing community.

And, like our environment, we value and do all that we can to 
care for our community businesses. We have business assistance programs that can help with site selection, financial assistance and local contractors. People and companies reach new heights of success in a receptive climate that’s open for business.

IGH City Services
Community Development:
651-450-2546
The Community Development Department works to provide Inver Grove Heights with a high-quality living environment and a diverse economic and social base.

Planning & Zoning:
651-450-2545

  • Reviews zoning and site design
  • Helps navigate land use application and 
environmental review process

Assists to ensure development plans are complete, 
concise and concurrent with city codes and policy

Building Inspections:
651-450-2550

The building inspections division is responsible for plan reviews and inspection of all building and remodeling projects to ensure that they comply with state building, plumbing and mechanical codes.

Fire Permits & Inspections:
651-450-3492

The Inver Grove Heights Fire Marshall reviews plans, inspects and tests fire protection systems, fire alarm systems, storage tanks and dispensing systems.

Here are some other local partners businesses you can tap into:

Dakota Scott County Workforce Center

Their workforce and business development representatives can help you find the right workers, publicize jobs and access workforce data. (651) 554-5622

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Economy. Industry. Workforce. Incentives. See why Minnesota is the best place for your business expansion or relocation.  DEED.CustomerService@state.mn.us  (952) 259-7114

South Metro Chapter of SCORE

Provides free and confidential business counseling whether starting a new business, buying or selling a business or managing an existing business.  www.southmetro.score.org  (952) 890-7020

For questions, or if you would like more information on doing business in Inver Grove Heights, please contact Progress Plus Economic Development at 651.451.2266 or visit us online at www.progressplus.org.

The Government Affair

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

What’s in Store For You…
It’s no secret… This four-part educational series from the River Heights Chamber of Commerce 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

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!

Progress Plus ED Foundation and the City of South St. Paul Partner to Attract New Business

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Marketing

Progress Plus ED Foundation and the City of South St. Paul Partner to Attract New Business

The City of South St. Paul is looking to attract new businesses to the area and Progress Plus is here to lend a helping hand.

A Great History…
South St. Paul’s early growth was driven on the hooves of cattle by drovers, ramrods and settlers. Over the years, our community evolved and earned a reputation as home to a proud and prosperous community of dedicated, hard-working innovators.  Rooted in this history, today South St. Paul is home to one of the upper Midwest’s most dynamic and diverse business park environments at “BridgePoint,” home to world-class manufacturing plants, state-of-the-art distribution and warehousing businesses, specialized technical and professional service providers, and much, much more. We invite you to visit and learn how we can help to establish your company as BridgePoint’s next great success story.

…A Greater Tomorrow

Any company that considers South St. Paul soon finds that here they’re never in business alone. Every program we offer, every benefit we provide, has been designed to help businesses succeed and individuals enjoy a better life.  Here you’ll find programs to help businesses with location selection, expansion and relocation services. You’ll discover that we’re more than ready to do everything possible to help you successfully bridge the gap to a greater, more prosperous tomorrow.

The City will work with your business to analyze project requirements including: planning, zoning, finance and marketing. Depending on the nature of the project, the following business assistance resources may be available:

Open to Business – South St. Paul works with MCCD’s “Open to Business” program, which offers free, one-on-one, confidential business consulting to small businesses located or thinking of locating in South St. Paul. Open to business offers a range of technical assistance to businesses and is able to provide financing to qualified business development projects.

South St. Paul Future Inc.  – South St. Paul Future Inc. offers competitive fixed asset financing to qualified firms whose operations are based within the City of South St. Paul. Whether you need financing for new equipment, expansion, startup costs, or acquisitions, Future is here to help you with the next step. www.riverheights.com/sspfuture (651) 451-2266

Here are some other local partners businesses you can tap into:

Dakota Scott County Workforce Center

Their workforce and business development representatives can help you find the right workers, publicize jobs and access workforce data. (651) 554-5622

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Economy. Industry. Workforce. Incentives. See why Minnesota is the best place for your business expansion or relocation.  DEED.CustomerService@state.mn.us  (952) 259-7114

South Metro Chapter of SCORE

Provides free and confidential business counseling whether starting a new business, buying or selling a business or managing an existing business.  www.southmetro.score.org  (952) 890-7020

For questions, or if you would like more information on doing business in South St. Paul, please contact Progress Plus Economic Development at 651.451.2266 or visit us online at www.progressplus.org.