Betty Ravnik who owns Ravnik & Co. tells us about the unique one stop design destination in historic downtown Alexandria, MN. The retail store carries furniture, gifts, home décor and the interior designers to help you pull it all together. From a simple paint color consultation to a complex home remodel, the experienced designers will help guide you through the design process to create an interior uniquely you.
By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce recently released the 2019 Business Benchmarks. This annual report compiles key indicators that define our business climate – where Minnesota ranks compared with other states – to identify strengths and areas for improvement for Minnesota to compete in the global economy.
Key findings of the data compiled from state and federal agencies shows that innovation is a key strength of Minnesota, and the state continues to make progress in infrastructure improvements – an important factor in the ability to compete in a global marketplace. Minnesota is ranked first in business five-year survival, second in labor participation rate, fourth in number of residents with two year degrees or higher, fourth in patents per capita and fourth in technology and science workforce.
Those are exciting numbers and definitely a source of pride for our state. However, there are other numbers that are overshadowing these – numbers that can and must be controlled so that we can allow our innovation and shining workforce to help us flourish.
The state’s economy is growing at a slower pace than many other states and we remain in the top five states with the highest tax rates for both corporate and individual taxes. Minnesota ranks third highest in corporate income tax, fourth highest in business and entrepreneurship tax index, fifth highest in pass-through and individual income tax rates, ninth highest in overall state and local taxes per capita and second highest in unemployment tax.
Along with the state’s high taxes, a tight labor market is posing a significant problem statewide. Sixty-nine percent of employers in 2018 – versus 18 percent in 2010 – cited the ability to find workers as a key concern through the Minnesota Chamber’s Grow Minnesota Partnership. Job vacancies exceed the number of job-seekers in the state. Although 2017 was the first year since 2001 that Minnesota had more people moving into the state, the impending labor shortage – expected to hit 239,000 by 2022 – makes it more critical that Minnesota keep and attract skilled workers, work to get people back into the labor market and prepare students for jobs of the future. Minnesota remains in the middle of the pack for overall cost of living, but shortages in child care and workforce housing are issues that impact our ability to attract people.
The many newly elected officials on deck as the Minnesota Legislature soon convenes will definitely face some challenges. To ensure Minnesota stays competitive and moves in the right direction in these business benchmark rankings, our officials need to enact pro-growth reforms to reduce taxes on both individuals and businesses so that people want to operate businesses here.
Protecting the rights of employers to develop wage and benefit packages that best suit the individual needs of companies and employees needs to be a priority, as does ensuring affordable, quality health care by limiting government’s role and enhancing the ability of private employers to provide insurance to employees and ensuring that public health programs are sustainable. Private-sector workforce efforts should be supported to help employers attract and retain skilled workers.
There are some major hurdles to overcome, but they can be accomplished. If they aren’t, Minnesota stands to lose those businesses that currently put us in the spotlight as an innovation state.
The Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce joins more than 40 other local chambers and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce to unify around a common advocacy agenda for Minnesota businesses statewide. This collective voice, representing tens of thousands of businesses across the state, amplifies our members’ priorities with state policy leaders.
The Y is a diverse organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.
By Jess Ptacek, Visitor Center & Office Coordinator, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission has launched a brand new business competition called Pitch Your Plan. The Pitch Your Plan competition is open to current or prospective entrepreneurs who present a for-profit business idea. Each competitor will pitch their ideas for the chance at a community prize package to grow or start their business.
There will be 3 phases. The first phase will include filling out an online application with six simple questions. The steering committee will then choose up to ten applicants who will advance to phase 2. Phase 2 will consist of building the business plan along-side a business consultant. A panel of judges will select up to three to advance to phase 3 and those three will deliver a shark-tank style presentation to the judges. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at a luncheon held at the BoatHouse at the Legacy of the Lakes Museum.
Eligible business concepts are strictly limited to a business start-up, a second or third location of an existing business elsewhere, a significant expansion of a current business with a new concept, product or service line, or a relocation of an existing business that is currently outside of Douglas County. Eligible business concepts must locate to within Douglas County.
To learn more visit www.livingalexarea.org/pitchyourplan or follow us on Instagram at pitchyourplanmn.
By Lauren Johnson, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
My name is Lauren Johnson and I just started with the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. I am their new Marketing & Communications Coordinator. In this position, my main responsibility is to plan, analyze, and create print, electronic, and social media promotions. I am so excited to have joined the chamber for a couple reasons: the first being I get to be more involved with our community and get to know people and their businesses more and the second being that I am looking forward to having a work/life balance. I am a new mom and having that flexibility with my family is very important to me.
My husband, Scott, and I both grew up near Garfield with a 40 acre field separating our homes. But it wasn’t until after I graduated high school that we connected through a sport we both love, bowling. In September of 2017 we got married! A few years prior Scott bought a small lake house on about 3 acres out by Holmes City and we have been busy building and renovating ever since. I have quickly learned that the projects are never ending, but it is so fun to see where it started and how far it has come.
At home we have a 4 year old yellow lab, Grizzly; and inside we have a 5 year old cat named Ash and a 10 month puppy named Charlie. She is sure to always be keeping us on our toes.
As if we weren’t busy enough – the end of August we welcomed our son, Wesley, and he is the light of mine and my husband’s life. He loves to talk and tell stories and is quick to let you know if he doesn’t like something. We are so blessed that he has so many cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-aunts & uncles in the Alexandria area alone, plus the surrounding areas for him to grow up with.
In our free time, we enjoy being outdoors hunting, fishing, riding four-wheeling; whatever it may be, as long as it’s outdoors. We are so blessed to have this life and are very excited to see what the future has to offer!