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Business

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Health

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E d u c at i o n

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Government

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Agriculture

Phi lan th r o p y

Habitat for Humanity:

Homes, Community and Hope

REBUILDING THE fe at u re d a r ti cle

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY Speci a l R e p o r t

Bankers take the lead on new home development

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Philanthropy


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BUILDING STRONGER COMMUNITIES

Offering full service general contracting and construction management services 507.446.0023 | 969 39th Avenue Suite A Owatonna, MN | www.mohscontracting.com | 3


William Morris Associate Editor

When talking about the “Steele County Business Community,” the most important word in that phrase by far is Community. Ever since I started covering the business beat for the Owatonna People’s Press in late 2015, I’ve talked to countless people, from rank-and-file employees to entrepreneurs to executives, who take pride in the companies and institutions that make Steele County a great place to work and live. There’s a distinctive identity shared by our local business community, and so we’re proud to bring you our first issue of FORGE Magazine, written for and about Steele County businesses and your goals, challenges and accomplishments. As we started planning our first issue, I kept coming back to a theme I’ve heard over and over in the past two years: southern Minnesota needs more construction workers. That’s true in other industries, of course, but it’s particularly critical in construction, because construction is key to any other company looking to relocate or expand (not to mention any family looking for a new home). So we talked to contractors, real estate professionals, bankers and educators to find out how bad the need is for new blood in the field, and what people are doing to find the next generation of construction workers. 4 |

But FORGE is about much more than just construction. In this issue, you’ll find important statistics and indicators at a glance on the Economic Dashboard; read columns from local businesspeople and institutions sharing their expertise in law, education and economic development; and in Around the Water Cooler, find the promotions, hirings and achievements you’ll be discussing … well, around the water cooler. In future issues, we’ll be taking deep dives into current trends and future needs in agriculture, manufacturing and more. But in every issue, we’ll be looking at the issues we hear about over and over from you: things like workforce, taxation and publicprivate collaboration. And we want to keep hearing from you. If you’ve got questions, suggestions, press releases, or just have a unique perspective on the issues facing businesses in Steele County, let us know at FORGE@owatonna.com. Welcome to FORGE. Let’s make Steele stronger. William Morris is Associate Editor of Forge Magazine and covers business, government and courts for the Owatonna People’s Press. Contact him at FORGE@Owatonna.com.

Volume 1, Issue 1 – April 2017 PUBLISHER: Tom Murray EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Jeffrey Jackson ASSOCIATE EDITOR: William Morris CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Lisa Cownie Autumn Van Ravenhorst PHOTOGRAPHERS: Karen Legault William Morris COVER DESIGN: Brendan Cox PAGE DESIGN: Tri M Graphics ADVERTISING MANAGER: Ginny Bergerson ADVERTISING SALES: Autumn Van Ravenhorst Kyle Shaw Per Kvalsten Erin Rossow ADVERTISING ASSISTANT: Becky Melchert ADVERTISING DESIGNERS: Kelly Kubista Nicole Gilmore Jenine Kubista CIRCULATION DIRECTOR: Carol Harvey For editorial inquiries, contact William Morris at 507-444-2372 or FORGE@owatonna.com For advertising inquiries, please call 507-444-2386 or email gbergerson@owatonna.com

FORGE Magazine is published by

Southern Minn Media 135 West Pearl St. Owatonna, MN 55060


APRIL 2017

FIRST EDITION

keeping steele strong

cov e r s t o r y

REBUILDING THE

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

10

PG

PG MOVERS & SHAKERS

6

ALL SIGNS POINT TO KOREY BOURCHERT

COLUMNS

21 24

LOCAL LEARNING AROUND STEELE COUNTY

PG SPECIAL REPORT

19

LENDING A HELPING HAND

BANKERS READY TO DO THEIR PART

26 28 32

FROM THE FOUNDATION AG UPDATE GREENSEAM AROUND THE WATER COOLER

38 40 42

PG PHILANTHROPY

22

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY: HOMES, COMMUNITY, AND HOPE

FROM THE CHAMBER ECONOMIC DASHBOARD PARTNERS FOR GROWTH

44 49 51

KNOW THE LAW REAL ESTATE NEWS HEALTHY WORKPLACE | 5


MOVERS & SHAKERS

ALL SIGNS POINT TO KOREY BORCHERT Borchert and his family (Photo courtesy Korey Borchert)

the Steele County History Center in recent years, was started by a small group of people roughly 11 years ago. “It was very small and grassroots,” Borchert recalls. “We barely broke even, but then we started getting sponsorships, and they are the ones who truly made this happen.”

S

ome people want to see good things happen to their hometown. Others make those good things happen. For some this might mean opening up their own business. For others, it is bringing unique experiences in from the outside or it is finding something to give back to in their community. For Korey Borchert, it is all of the above. Borchert is a born and raised Owatonnan, coming up on his 10-year anniversary as owner of Legacy Signs downtown. He began life after high school by attending school in Ely and later graduated from Mankato State. He eventually made the trip back to Owatonna, where he would start working for a sign company. When another sign company in town closed its doors, Korey decided to open his. “We started down on Elm Street where O-Town Auctions is now,” he said. “We had half that building. When they started, we moved into this building and it’s been great.”

6 |

Legacy Signs is a full-service sign shop, offering vinyl graphics for everything from buildings to vehicles and large-format printing for posters and signage, and it can also design, fabricate and install signage for your storefront. The company has a great book of business, but Borchert likes to keep it local. “We do most of our business within Steele County,” Borchert said. “Any business needs to make that decision, if you want to keep growing or if you are comfortable where you are at. We take new customers, but we don’t go looking too far out for them anymore. We are fortunate enough to have a solid home base and have kept this a small family operation.” He’s busy outside the office as well. For about as long as Borchert has been making marketing materials for local businesses, he has been bringing recognized names in music to Owatonna. The Americana Showcase, which has been held at

The Americana Showcase series began in Rochester at the Civic Theatre. It was started by Brandon Sampson, lead singer of Six Mile Grove and good friend of Borchert. Sampson is the driving force behind the Rochester concerts and is the connection that helps Korey line up the bands for Owatonna. “We piggy-backed off of what Rochester was doing. We thought, if Rochester is doing it one night, let’s do it in Owatonna the next night. These musicians would then have two shows to play. Rochester does it every month, but we have chosen to keep it at four times a year for now. We will call to see what Rochester is doing and if it is a good fit, we bring them here. If not, we go search individually,” Borchert said. Shows have been held at the Owatonna Arts Center, at Legacy Signs and even in basements. But more recently, it has consistently been at the History Center. With music steeped in the blues, often telling stories and expressing the history of music, Borchert says it was a perfect fit to partner with the Steele County Historical Society. The venue adds to the intimate feel of the Americana


Autumn Van Ravenhorst FEAtURE WRITER

Showcase and all ticket sales go directly to the Society. Borchert is also heavily involved in annual events such as Around the World Food & Brewfest and Chubb’s Brew-BQ, which benefits the Juan Villareal Junior Memorial Fund. The fund was set up after the passing of Villareal and proceeds are kicked back to help people who can’t afford extracurricular activities such as band, sports, fixing equipment and more. His participation involves yet another activity of his–home brewing. “The first beer I brewed was when I was in college,” Borchert said. “Okay, I shouldn’t say that. I watched my friends do it and I drank it. But when I came back

to Owatonna, I met some friends who were home brewers and it rekindled that. … It is pure pleasure to me. I don’t sell or make money off of it. I donate a lot of time and beer.” He calls his “business” Seven Sins Brewing, and it has won many competitions for his unique and unfailing flavors. His passion and talent has led to him heading up a sort of local brew club where local brewers can come together to brew different styles and learn from each other. Borchert says his dedication comes from a very conscious decision he made to move back to Owatonna. “Whether the reason is friends or family, once you invest in

Owatonna, you want to see it succeed,” he said. “You want to see events, concerts, a flourishing downtown. Most people travel to the cities or Rochester. You want that for your own town and your business. I don’t like waiting around for other people to make things happen. If it is something I want or something I would travel to do, I will help try and start it. I won’t turn down any idea that benefits Owatonna or brings something I like to do or appreciate.” Borchert did want to add one more thing — keep an eye on downtown Owatonna, everyone. There is something great on the horizon.

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RENOVATE VS. BUILD Whether you are looking to upgrade or expand your current space, or start from scratch and build new, there are many things to consider:

1 CORPORATE GRAPHICS

The physical state of your current space needs to be taken into consideration, such as your windows, lighting, HVAC or roof. These types of items can add substantial cost to a new facility, so if they are in good condition in your existing space, renovation might be the better choice. But if they are due for a replacement anyway, new construction may be the call. Make sure to assess your physical situation to get a clearer idea of the costs of a renovation compared to paying for a new space.

2

Regulatory concerns can also help you make your decision. If your current environment does not meet all current codes and standards, then it might be more financially responsible to construct a new building in adherence to all regulations.

3

Finally, if your building is of historical significance, then renovation gets tricky. There are usually regulations that complicate any changing of the building, as well as community concerns. Consulting with your employees is always a good idea. After all, they'll be using the space! So make sure to keep in mind the organizational culture of your business. Ensure that employee input is recognized. Organizational efficiencies can be critical to business success, so it is important to maintain these as you renovate or build. | 9


COVER STORY

S

cott Mohs could build homes and commercial projects even faster if he could find the hands to swing the hammers.

William Morris Associate Editor

Photos by Karen Legault and William Morris

“We’re limited on what we can do,” said Mohs, owner of Mohs Construction Company. “If we can handle the work ourselves from a management standpoint, that’s only one angle. How do our [subcontractors], how can our business partners handle it? We don’t have enough staffing in those direct trades to accommodate all the work that we’re going to be asked to do.” Mohs, which builds residentially through Mohs Homes and provides project management through Mohs Contracting, is not the only Steele County construction firm coming up short on manpower. In fact, people who have spent decades in real estate, construction management, contracting and homebuilding all say the same thing: after a brutal recession and a long, grueling recovery, the local construction workforce has been reduced to a shadow of its former capacity.

And with construction starting to boom again, the hardest project of all may be …

REBUILDING THE

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY 10 |


From boom to bust In the early 2000s, Dave Schlobohm says, he used to build new homes three or four at a time. “Usually came by the first or March or middle of February, you had three or four homes presold for the year, and I couldn’t take some [more] at the time until I had some of them done,” said Schlobohm, owner of Ace Construction of Owatonna. “It was pretty much pick and choose whatever you wanted to do.”

"We don’t have enough staffing in those direct trades to accommodate all the work that we’re going to be asked to do." ~ Scott Mohs

The years before the financial crash were rosy ones for builders. Owatonna put up between 116 and 171 new houses every year from 2000 to 2006, according to city data. Nor was the growth all on the residential side: the total value of all building permits, including commercial, industrial and remodeling, trended upward through the early 2000s and hit $78 million in 2008. “It was crazy,” said Dan Nechville, a real estate broker for Berkshire Hathaway and managing partner of BNB Development Group. “It seemed like a new house back then was more affordable. I think they were doing so many of them that they were able to streamline it and keep the labor cheaper because they could keep guaranteeing them work.” But the good years were drawing to an end, and the decline was steep. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide construction employment rose from about 6.7 million in 2003 to 7.7 million in 2006 and 2007. By 2010, that number dropped to 5.5 million. In Owatonna, after $78 million in 2008, three of the next four years saw total building permits valuations under $30 million. Homebuilders put up 129 new homes in 2006, but from 2009 through 2015, new construction was down to about 15 homes per year. For the homebuilders and contractors who were staffed to build 10 times that number, the dropoff was catastrophic.

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“It just crashed. Building stopped completely.” Schlobohm said. “We had a hailstorm come through I think in July or ‘08 or ‘09, which allowed us to get a lot of roofing jobs. We hadn’t roofed in 20 years, we subcontracted it out, but that’s how we survived, whatever we could do to keep it going. Somehow we made it. … A lot of guys didn’t survive that.” Mohs had started his company with two people in 2006, just a year before the bottom began falling out of both residential and commercial construction. Unlike some of the other companies of the time, he was able not only to persevere but to grow through the lean years. It wasn’t always a lot of fun, though.

“It was very high stress, high anxiety, really having to work above and beyond a lot of expectations, not just me but my staff,” he said. And as the recession dragged on and on and on, workers began drifting away.

Hard to get them back It’s hard to say how many construction workers Steele County lost during and after the recession. Different people interviewed for this article estimated the total has dropped anywhere from 50 to 80 percent from the pre-crash peak.

“It just crashed. Building stopped completely." ~ Dave Schlobohm

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But one thing is clear: most of those workers are gone for good. Greg Schultz, owner of Schultz Homes, knows many former construction workers who have found new career paths elsewhere. “My observation is, once somebody leaves the profession, it’s pretty hard to get them back,” he said. “Let’s face it, it’s hard work, it’s hard on the body, so you find a job that’s maybe indoors, so they just kind of faded away to other professions.” What made the 2008 crash particularly harsh, Mohs says, is that it took much longer to bounce back than past downturns. “I’ve been through other recessions, as far as business, but it was pretty drawn out,” he said. “Until the last year or two, it didn’t climb back up very fast, at least in our area. It


“I’ve been through other recessions, as far as business, but it was pretty drawn out. Until the last year or two, it didn’t climb back up very fast, at least in our area.” ~ Greg Schultz

wasn’t a short-term one-year thing where people found something temporarily. Most people found different career paths, and they’re in them for multiple years, so ... why would they leave?” Some have shifted into related fields, such as interior renovation. Others are in completely new fields. “I think the hard part about this is, once these guys that were in construction found other jobs, they like them better,” Nechville said. “A skilled carpenter can make good money, but then you are out in the elements and it’s not necessarily the easiest work.”

And no small number, especially among the Baby Boomers, decided it was time to retire. “I’ve been fortunate. The guys who do my work are still around. That helps a lot,” Schultz said. “I think there’s an element of guys who didn’t see it bouncing back and said, now’s the time.”

It’s time to build again A full decade after things began to go sour, demand for local construction is finally on the rise. “It’s climbed at a pretty consistent rate the past few years,” said Mohs,

who expects the trend to continue. “There’s a lot of activity out there, both in the commercial and residential. The amount of inquiries, the amount of activity, the amount of requests we have, has grown in the past and continues to grow.” The BLS reports that overall construction employment in America has been rising steadily since 2011 and now is back to approximately 2004 numbers, although still well short of the prerecession peak let alone adjusted for population growth. That rebound hasn’t happened across the board, however, with some states | 13


Scott Mohs of Mohs Construction Company

almost $152,000 as of 2015, making it more competitive to build versus buying an existing house. But after so many years with a shortage of work, many in the business today say they can’t find enough workers. “I can’t find help. I can’t find help without baggage,” said Schlobohm, who employs a third as many people as he did before the recession. “Now people are starting to grow [again], but the problem is, you can’t find anyone that is interested in doing this kind of work. The millennium kids don’t want to do that. Times are a lot different.” And Mohs, whose company subcontracts out the majority of the work on its commercial projects, said there’s not enough workers for his subcontractors to handle the current demand, let alone what the future will hopefully bring.

well ahead of their pre-recession employment while others lag well behind.

and Mankato] came back, but this is probably the first year we’re kind of bouncing back from that.”

The recovery came unevenly to southern Minnesota as well, Schultz said.

Commercial construction has had several strong years in Steele County, with several major industrial expansions and projects moving forward. Residential building has lagged behind: 2016 was the first year in almost a decade that Owatonna approved more than 20 home permits (the final figure was 37), and signs are good for further growth. The median home value in Steele County is up from $110,000 in the depths of the recession to

“Rochester has been booming, Mankato has been booming, and them booming is sucking people out of the system,” he said, and pointing at two markets notorious for big swings in growth. “It was always a little steadier here, but in 2008 when the hammer came down, we went down hard. [Rochester 14 |

“We try to find outside sources, be that subcontractors in different communities or different areas, but they’re busy too,” he said. “It’s not a little bubble here in Owatonna where we’re busy, so the communities around us are as busy as we are.” And Schultz sees glaring areas of need, especially as workers continue to age out of the industry. “I think certain trades, especially the masons and blocklayers, you don’t see too many young blocklayers anymore,” he said. “Whether that’ll ever come back, I don’t know, because that’s hard work. Will technology fix some of that? I don’t know.”


A SNAPSHOT OF

THE INDUSTRY

Drawing in the next generation

OWATONNA NEW SINGLE-FAMILY HOME PERMITS Owatonna New Home Permits 190 190 180 180 170 170 160 160 150 150

NUMBER OF PERMITS

Construction, of course, is not the only industry in need of workers. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says there currently are 1.2 job seekers in Minnesota for every job vacancy, the second-lowest ratio in 16 years. But while companies in fields such as manufacturing and transportation have forged ties with schools and universities, the connections are a little fuzzier for local builders.

140 140 130 130 120 120 110 110 100 100

“Now people are starting to grow [again], but the problem is, you can’t find anyone that is interested in doing this kind of work. The millennium kids don’t want to do that. Times are a lot different.” ~ Dave Schlobohm

90 90 80 80 70 70 60 60 50 50 40 40 30 30 20 20 10 10 0

20002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

YEARS

OWATONNA TOTAL CONSTRUCTION PERMIT VALUE Owatonna Total New Home Permit Value

Several local builders weren’t sure if local high schools even offer shop or technical education classes any more. Owatonna High School Principal Mark Randall said that concern is unfounded. “We continue to provide course offerings in the construction area,” he said. “Specifically, we do an intro to that

85 85000000 80 80000000 75 75000000 70 70000000 65 65000000

VALUE IN MILLIONS

“The local [manufacturing] industry is great,” Nechville said. “I’ve seen manufacturers reach out and say, ‘I want to be part of things,’ but I don’t see either the schools or the builders trying to say, ‘let’s teach these kids construction.’ For kids to do the work release and go out and do construction, they can learn a skill that we really need.”

90 90000000

60 60000000 55 55000000 50 50000000 45 45000000 40 40000000 35 35000000 30 30000000 25 25000000 20 20000000 15000000 15 10000000 10 5000000 5 0

00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 20002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016

YEARS

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Craig Nelson of Ace Construction cuts finish for a home under construction in Owatonna.

concept of construction. We call it Woods 1, there isn’t any fancy name to it, but that morphs into a program we call Advanced Woods Lab. That would be for students that are a little more serious about the industry of construction, and interested in expanding their knowledge in that area for whatever their next steps may end up being.”

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the way technology is changing, and the way the whole business side of that is changing. And part of it is just not having the facility, or the dollars to upgrade our facility to meet those demands,” he said. “When we’re in an old facility like we’re in, we have some limitations in how we can update our facility to meet those demands.”

In past years, OHS shop classes used to build a house every other year, which would be moved to a vacant lot and sold. Randall isn’t sure when or why that ended, although one challenge could be a lack of space for such a project on the high school’s current location. There are other constraints too that make it hard to offer the most up-to-date programs.

There are education opportunities for construction careers after high school as well. Riverland Community College has programs for carpenters and electricians, among others, although none of its construction trade programs are offered in Owatonna. And of course, new workers can learn the trade the old-fashioned way, working alongside family members.

“As technology changes, our labs aren’t able to maybe change with

“We learned the business through my family, but through

apprenticeships,” Schultz said. “Those sort of programs, nothing’s really happened the last few years. That’s where we need to come back, some kind of training program to get into the industry.” For those who don’t have a family background in construction, Mohs said there needs to be a focus on ways to draw them into the trades and give them the skills they need. “Traditional education isn’t for everybody,” he said. “I think there’s enough of those kids out there that hopefully we as an industry can create a career path for those kids and get them some education and get them into the trades. It should be a prosperous career path for kids coming out.” So for young people willing to tackle the physical labor and the fickle weather, there could be a good payday down the road.


A COMPARISON OF “We learned the business through my family, but through apprenticeships. Those sort of programs, nothing’s really happened the last few years. That’s where we need to come back, some kind of training program to get into the industry.” ~ Greg Schultz

“I’m telling you, there’s going to be a market for those people,” Schlobohm said. “They’re going to be paid well, and they’re going to demand money because there’s no one else to do it.” Because if Steele County is going to continue growing, the construction industry will need to rebuild quickly to keep up. “I think Owatonna is set up for a lot of good years ahead of us,” Mohs said. “We’ve got so much industry and so many good opportunities for jobs, that just creates more and more for the construction industry to create infrastructure and housing, all the good things that come along with that.” 

CONSTRUCTION

AROUND THE REGION OWATONNA

ALBERT LEA

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERMITS

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERMITS

2015

2016

1,795 1,896

2015

533

2016

945

TOTAL VALUE OF PERMITS

TOTAL VALUE OF PERMITS

$32,156,311 $64,167,565

$53,911,695 $14,436,776

NUMBER OF NEW HOME PERMITS

NUMBER OF NEW HOME PERMITS

12

37

8

9

AUSTIN

FARIBAULT

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERMITS

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERMITS

TOTAL VALUE OF PERMITS

TOTAL VALUE OF PERMITS

$75,091,884 $45,588,870

$35,627,524 $73,389,541

NUMBER OF NEW HOME PERMITS

NUMBER OF NEW HOME PERMITS

2015

2016

2015

2016

1,511 1,981 1,061 1,104 6

11

10

20

MANKATO

ROCHESTER

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERMITS

TOTAL NUMBER OF PERMITS

TOTAL VALUE OF PERMITS

TOTAL VALUE OF PERMITS

$136,611,577 $77,500,550

$593,146,983 $328,572,700

NUMBER OF NEW HOME PERMITS

NUMBER OF NEW HOME PERMITS

2015

2016

2015

2016

1,536 1,703 10,498 8,094 56

120

364

418 | 17


Commercial Construction

Trends for 2017 The American Institute of Architects says that 2016 was a great year for growth in commercial construction. The AIA anticipates more growth in 2017, but does say there are some issues the industry needs to pay attention to. A weak manufacturing sector is one to watch closely. The AIA reports in the past 17 months, the output of U.S. factories has declined roughly 13%. This is due mostly to competing countries, such as China, Russia, and Brazil, continuing to face economic difficulties. Because of the decline in their economies and the increase in the value of the dollar, there is more incentive to purchase imports rather than products manufactured in the United States. The AIA estimates that offices and hotels will experience the strongest growth in 2017.

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Lisa Cownie FEAtURE WRITER

SPECIAL REPORT

LENDING A HELPING HAND BANKERS READY TO DO THEIR PART

One local bank has spent the last year on a mission centered on one key message for Steele County: if you want to build it, we will come. With financing. "We are absolutely willing to step up," says Jerry Kopel, Owatonna Market President for Profinium Bank. "There were a few years there, during the recession, that good lenders were not willing to take the risk of a spec home because they could have been sitting on it a while. During that time, people just didn't have the equity to build a house. Over the past year, though, we have slowly begun seeing a turnaround. Now all the stars are aligning: interest rates are still good, people have equity back in their homes to sell and consumers are gaining confidence. Now we just need more movement in market."

and Andy Cowell, sat down in early 2016 to try to come up with a plan. The three could see other regions in Minnesota starting to recover from the recession in ways Steele County wasn't, primarily construction. And they no longer wanted to sit by as construction, along with the Steele County economy, remained stagnant. Turns out, they weren't alone. "Andy and Jannell have taken a leadership role in jump-starting the housing economy here in this past year," Kopel said. "But they had lots of help. They started having meetings with a combination of players; contractors, appraisers, Realtors, the city, the county. Initially, we just

wanted to garner information and brainstorm ideas on how we could get things going again. But as it turned out, the contractors were ready to step up and build some model homes on spec. They hadn't done that for a few years. It's risky because you don't know if you are going to have a buyer or not when you build it. But they stepped up and said 'maybe it's time to stretch a little a bit and take a chance,' and they did." And bankers in the county did their part, by stretching themselves and offering special financing and construction loans. In turn, Kopel says, buyers also stepped up. Kopel couldn’t discuss specific projects due to client confidentiality, but the bankers said that collaboration, that

In an effort to get things moving, Kopel and two other Owatonna-based Profinium bankers, Jannell Tufte

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team approach, seems to have worked. "It's more active now for new home construction than it had been in the previous four years combined,” Cowell said. “The lending standards haven't changed, but after the recession, there was pent-up demand, and now people are finally feeling confident enough to move forward, whether that's upsizing or constructing their dream home, or moving from a rental to a permanent house of their own." According to a comprehensive housing study conducted for the Owatonna Housing and Redevelopment Agency, the number of building permits issued for new residential units in Steele County continues to reflect the impact of the recession. According to the report by Maxfield Research and Consulting LLC, building permits dropped from 806 new residential construction unites permitted from 2004 to 2007, to 225 from 2008 to 2011, and 218 from 2012 to 2015. Kopel, though, says 2016 marked the start of a better trend. "It's nice to see a turnaround from a lot of perspectives," he said. "Development in our community creates jobs and creates money flowing throughout our local economy. It even takes land that was on the tax rolls as lot value, and when you add an improvement to it of a $200,000 home, that adds value to it and creates tax revenue for the county. So all the way around, that activity helps not only us as bankers, but anyone that is involved in the chain. It's been good to see. We'd like to see more of that this year.” The trio agrees the collaboration will have to continue if the county 20 |

wants to see continued growth. "I think we need to continue doing what we did this year,” Tufte said. “It really takes a team. This last year, everybody stepped up to the plate and did what they could. We as bankers did a little, contractors said 'okay, we'll compromise a bit here,' truly everyone did their part." A challenge in the Steele County market for bankers is finding that price point with new construction that will fit most people's budgets. "We do have a multiple-year inventory of lots available, so that's a good thing for a buyer who wants to build a new home,” Tufte said. “Land costs are very affordable here, so the cost to build on balance is offset by cheaper land costs." Kopel says his team did an informal study last year and found a price point of $200,000 to $250,000 would fit into most people's budgets. "That may not be affordable for everybody, but it would allow more people to get into a family home from an affordable monthly budget standpoint, but also allow builders to have a reasonable profit margin,” he said. “We have to find a way to hit that low-200 market. Maybe its hooking up with the housing authority and offering some subsidizing." Tufte, who has been a mortgage lender for 17 years, says 2017 is off to a good start and she is optimistic. "We are looking for opportunities," she said. "We appreciate the clients we've had over the last year. They were guinea pigs and they helped get it going again. They were trailblazers, really." 

HOUSING STUDY SHOWS BIG FUTURE NEED Some key findings in a recent housing study conducted by Maxfield Research and Consulting, LLC:

• The Owatonna submarket is forecast to add 2,272 people and 870 households to Steele County between 2010 and 2025. Owatonna is considered the population center of the county. • However, the Medford submarket is experiencing the greatest growth in the county. From 2000 to 2010, Medford's population increased by nearly 9%, and another 8.6% growth in population is projected from 2010 to 2025. • The median income for Steele County is projected to increase from $60,440 to $67,433 in 2021, that's an 11.6% growth rate. • Over three-quarters of Steele County households are owner households. The study found, in comparison to the state of Minnesota, there are high rates of ownership among the youngest age group, where typically there are more renters.


LOCAL LEARNING Jeff McCabe

CONTINUING EDUCATION AND CUSTOMIZED TRAINING

South Central College

The skills required to succeed in today’s workforce are constantly changing. As the economy continues to improve and technology revolutions come to the forefront, businesses need a ready resource to help them react quickly to these changes in order to thrive. South Central College and other Minnesota state colleges have answered this need by establishing educational programs to meet the changing needs of businesses and professionals. SCC established the Center for Business & Industry to help businesses, non-profits and government organizations improve their performance through customizable professional training and continuing education programs. As a recent addition to the CBI team and the newly appointed director, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of customized, industry-

relevant training in this region. We help organizations pinpoint their specific training needs and provide a solution to that need. Any of our programs can be tailored to address the unique concerns of a business. The expertise of faculty and staff from South Central College, along with products and services available through our professional partnerships, provide us with a wealth of resources from which to create customized solutions that can be delivered on the SCC campuses, on a job site or even online. We recognize that in order for training plans to succeed, training needs to be easily accessible and convenient. If we as a community want to close the skills gap – the gap that exists between the skills individuals bring to work versus the skill level employers need to perform jobs – it has to be a group

effort, and CBI is committed to that effort by providing its clients and the communities in which they reside relevant training opportunities. As part of this effort, we strive to provide solutions for individuals and companies alike. CBI also offers continuing education for those professions that require annual or semi-annual training. We even have mobile training simulators, including trench and excavation safety and rescue equipment, which can be taken to any work site. The CBI offices are based out of both the Faribault and North Mankato SCC campuses, but we provide trainings all across the state and even throughout the country. CBI enrolls over 10,000 individuals annually, and we will continue to adjust our offerings to meet the training needs of the marketplace. 

Our consultants are subject-matter experts with access to a vast network of instructors. They specialize in the following areas: Workplace Safety (OSHA/MSHA) Robert Weston, CSP, CMSP, CET Terry Weston, CSP, CMSP Terry Meschke, ASP Customized Training Tanja Stading, MSSC

Emergency Medical Services/ Emergency Preparedness Eric Weller, NREMT, CEM Fire and Rescue Bob Eastham, CCM

Manufacturing George Chapple, MSSC, TWI, Lean, Diversity Trainer, Performance Analysis Glen Von Maluski – Knowledge of PLC, HMI, VFD, RFID, Robotics, General Automation Jeff McCabe is the Director of the Center of Business & Industry at South Central College. Jeff holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration with a minor in Economics from Winona State University. Jeff is also retired from the U.S. Army Reserves, where he served 22 years as a Civil Affairs Staff Officer. | 21


Maidah, age 8, puts in some sweat equity on her future family home through Habitat for Humanity of Steele-Waseca area. (Photo courtesy Habitat for Humanity)

Phi l a n t h r o p y

Habitat for Humanity:

Homes, Community and Hope "

T

he most common misconception about Habitat for Humanity is that the houses are given away,” says Pat Heyden, executive director for the Steele-Waseca chapter of the global nonprofit housing organization. Habitat for Humanity works in nearly 1,400 communities across the United States and approximately 70 countries with the vision of everyone having a decent place to live through building or improving a home for a qualifying family. This perhaps leads to another misconception—that the organization aims to only help the homeless. In most cases, Habitat homeowners weren’t homeless, but rather living in conditions that are either substandard, overcrowded or are paying a disproportionate amount of their income to basic shelter. Pat comes from a background combining hospital and county social work, and recently, her daughter, Ellen Heyden, joined the Habitat

22 |

team as well. Ellen previously served the organization on a volunteer basis and was hired on as the community engagement coordinator. “I love fundraising,” Ellen said. “I realized how much I love community involvement as soon as I started volunteering. I go out and talk to kids regularly about all the opportunities they have. I recruit volunteers and am very strong in fund development.”

“The most common misconception about Habitat for Humanity is that the houses are given away,” ~ Pat Heyden

The mother-daughter duo has high hopes and expectations for an organization they say has an opportunity to be making a much bigger impact than it currently is.

“Affordable housing is defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing,” Pat explained. “The majority of our homeowners are paying far more than 30 percent to basic expenses like rent and utilities. Many are sleeping on couches, sharing bedrooms, living in homes that are poorly insulated which causes the utility bills to go up. These families are putting plastic over the windows, setting the thermostats as low as possible, shutting off areas of the house because they are too cold to sleep. This is the kind of environment and need that we look at.” The application process is tough and typically takes about 6 months before a family can even get accepted. Once the level of need is established, several other factors are taken into consideration such as their willingness to partner with Habitat and their ability to repay a mortgage through a payment plan with the organization.


Autumn Van Ravenhorst FEAtURE WRITER

Because the homes are built by volunteers, willingness to partner by the family means they participate in the construction of the house. Not only do they help build it, but they are taught how to take care of it. The families go through classes on budgeting and financial literacy, home maintenance and everything in between. “We want to set them up for success,” Pat said. “We want to give our homeowners as much as we can. We talk to them about how to plan for repairs because when something happens, once the house is sold, we are just the lender at that point.” Pat says the family’s ability to pay is very important. Homeowners must prove that they have an income and can pay for the home, even if that income falls at or below the poverty line. “We verify their income, debt, credit, court records, etc. They need to be able to manage it,” she said. “We set these homeowners up for success and to be contributing members of the community to which they belong. The last thing we want to do is create a bigger burden for them.” So what does a Habitat home look like? The homes are built on both purchased and donated lots with a great deal of care and consideration. Everything from the color of the shingles to the make of the other homes on the street is part of the planning. Materials of the home are largely donated and labor done by volunteers, but Habitat still depends on fundraising efforts and donations. Historically, Habitat for Humanity

of Steele-Waseca has only been able to build one home per year, but the current strategic plan calls to impact nine homes in the next three years. With their newest addition to the team, a full-time construction manager donated by the Otto Bremer Trust, Pat and Ellen are hoping to execute that idea. There often are four to 16 applicants hoping to move into a Habitat home, so the need in our communities is there.

“Affordable housing is defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing.” ~ Pat Heyden

Tripling their production isn’t all that the local Habitat is up to. Ellen is very involved with local youth, creating programs specifically designed to get them involved with the organization. “We want to create that exposure,” said Ellen. “We don’t have as many hands-on classes any more, like carpentry, electrician, heating and cooling, and we want to start that conversation. We want to get to them before they are in high school. Expose kids to recycled materials and how to use them. We are hoping to do six activities this year. In April, we will do a pallet project which will allow them to work with tools and create something new.” Another program, Brush with Kindness, is about helping those who own a home, meet the income

thresholds and cannot either physically or financially make certain repairs. This could mean something as simple as taking down a dead tree to building a ramp for someone who is unable to walk up stairs, or rerouting water so it doesn’t enter the basement. “This will still be based on a need and ability to pay,” said Pat. “They will still be required to pay back a loan for a portion of the work. This is all about improving the community, continually making an impact when we aren’t building. If families want to stay in their homes, we want them to be able to do that, so we are hoping to kick-start this new program with the goal of taking applications this spring.” Also on staff is Angie McCampbell-Terpstra, an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer developing a financial literacy program for Habitat. Aiming to help the community outside of habitat applicants, the organization will develop a curriculum for individuals looking to become better at managing finances and budgeting for unexpected events. Though they may not be eligible for homeownership at first, the hope is program will help them gain control over their finances and become better at planning for the future. “We are really excited for this,” said Pat. “It is community-based, so anyone who is interested in learning more should contact our office.” The organization has a lot planned for the counties in 2017. Interested in getting involved? Contact Pat at the Owatonna office at info@habitatswa.org or by calling 507-446-0112.  | 23


35

NEWS FROM OUR NEIGHBORS

A

ll across the Highway 14 corridor, business communities are facing the same challenges as Steele County; workforce recruitment and retention, a need for a "business-friendly" legislative session in St. Paul and the need for continued commercial and housing development. First, let's look at how surrounding communities are tackling the workforce issue. Both the Rochester and the Mankato chamber organizations have established initiatives to find solutions. The Rochester Chamber of Commerce has established a foundation, led by Workforce Development Coordinator Kaylie McGregor. "The Rochester Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s primary goal now, over the next five years, and likely into the unforeseeable future, is the development, attraction, and retention of a globally competitive workforce," she says. "With a 3.6% unemployment rate and 8,174 current job openings in Southeast Minnesota, we have to be smarter about how we match those already in our region to the jobs we have, and be more creative about how we market our region to draw new individuals in." The programs and initiatives Rochester has in place all center

24 |

around that goal. For example, they have created Leadership Greater Rochester to develop current workforce. The Foundation also is launching a new online resource called Hubworks.mn. It is currently in development and will provide all things workforce for the southeast Minnesota region. The tool aims to help both current and future workforce, and through the same vein, allow area employers to find the right talent fit. Traveling west on 14, you'll find similar programs in place in the Greater Mankato area. In addition to programs like the ones Rochester mentioned, Greater Mankato Growth has also established a Workforce Task Force: a collaborative effort led by GMG, but incorporating input from stakeholders throughout the region. This information is primarily gathered through what they call Workforce Summits. These are gatherings with the area's largest employers, higher education institutions and city leaders who brainstorm how to attract and keep workers. Ideas being considered include tuition reimbursement or student loan forgiveness to attract the large local college population and ride share and busing programs for people who don't have vehicles, as well as finding suitable day care and after school care options to address child care challenges.

Lisa Cownie FEAtURE WRITER

POLITICAL LANDSCAPE Rochester Chamber of Commerce President Rob Miller says aside from workforce, the biggest challenge his members are facing is the tax environment. "Minnesota has a myriad of onerous business taxes that do not allow us to be as competitive as other states," Miller says. "This is driving many businesses out of the region rather than bringing new ones in. We have to make it easier for businesses to not only start here, but to grow and thrive. We need to work with our legislature on controlling the taxes we impose on businesses in our state, and recognize that if we don’t make changes now, we stand to face a drastically different economic landscape in the future.�

Minneapolis Rochester Mankato


DAHLE ENTERPRISES Septic & Drainage Services

DEVELOPMENT LANDSCAPE The landscape in Mankato will soon be changing, quite literally. Developers Tony Frenz and Rob Else have announced plans to build a new seven-story building at the corner of Main and South Second streets in downtown Mankato. The building already has a signed lease from accounting and business advisory firm Eide Bailly to occupy a large portion of the building. Eide Bailly plan to move its 80 Mankato employees there. The building is reported to also feature a restaurant, retail, and potentially housing.

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Excavating Services Commercial, Farm & Residential Basement Digging Demolition Work General Excavation Services Land & Site Preparation Soil Conservation Practices Trucking

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dahleenterprisesllc.com

dahleenterprises@gmail.com 25525 Independence Ave. PO Box 247 Morristown, MN 55052

Coldwell Banker Commercial Fisher Group, a leading commercial real estate brokerage firm in Mankato, says 2016 was a solid year. In review, CBC Fisher Group sold $11 million of property and leased 315,000 square feet of space. Business Development Director Cristen Manthe says some exciting projects could see fruition in 2017, and land is available including:

FOR SALE

FOR SALE

North Mankato

Mankato

65 ACRES 12 ACRES of bare land just north of the industrial park in a rapidly expanding area.

of land just north of Prairie Winds Middle School. This is the first planned multifamily project in this area.

FOR SALE

FOR SALE

Mankato

St. Peter

Professional IT Business Solutions Pantheon Computers works to provide clients with the right tools and people to support their Technology. From a growing business to a multi-site enterprise, as your Managed IT Partner we are with you every step of the way. • Network Security • Server Administration • Help Desk and Call Center • Backup and Recovery • Cloud Services

37 ACRES 6 ACRES of bare land along Highway 22 just north of Menards that is a prime opportunity for more retail and commercial development.

of land near Shopko for proposed retail development and multi-family development. This area is very popular for growth and expansion.

www.pantheoncomputers.com Waseca: 835-2212 | 207 N State St, Waseca, MN | 25


FROM THE FOUNDATION Tim Penny

SUPPORTING THE NEXT GENERATION OF ENTREPRENEURS Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s varied resources are designed to help the region’s diverse populations. Southern Minnesota's population and economy are rapidly diversifying. In 2000, 6.7 percent of the residents in Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) 20-county region were people of color; in 2015, this was up to 12.3 percent. One in three children in the region is a child of color. More than 36,000 residents are foreign-born. Many of these residents are driving the region's entrepreneurial spirit forward in sectors like social services, local foods, manufacturing and healthcare. SMIF has several new offerings to help minority and underrepresented demographics, including people of color, women, veterans, persons with disabilities and/or low-income populations. The Foundation has received a $50,000 allocation from the State's Emerging Entrepreneurs Loan Program, which will supplement its existing loan programs and be reserved specifically for those populations named above. 26 |

Additionally, SMIF's Prosperity Initiative, funded through Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development, is currently working with 23 minority business owners. They receive one-on-one business coaching from expert coaches. The Prosperity Initiative is designed to provide education and business resources to minority business owners and educate resource partners of the barriers and opportunities these individuals encounter. Last, SMIF has partnered with the FEAST Local Foods Network to launch the Grow a Farmer Fund. This fund will provide lower-interest loans for small-scale, sustainable farmers. These farmers often have a hard time accessing tradition financing without traditional collateral or because crops like perennials require more "patient capital" than banks can traditionally support. The FEAST Local Foods Network is also launching a SmartStart Initiative to help emerging local foods businesses.

SMIF

The Foundation believes that southern Minnesota is stronger when all residents have the opportunity to succeed. With a projected 400,000 workforce shortage by 2030 in Minnesota, it’s important to embrace the entrepreneurialism that immigrants, women and other under-served populations bring. Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is a donor-supported foundation that invests for economic growth in 20 Minnesota counties. SMIF is centrally headquartered in Owatonna. The Foundation has provided more than $100 million in grants, loans and programming within the region over the past 30 years. SMIF's key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. To learn more about its work and mission, visit www.smifoundation.org.  Tim Penny is the President and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Previously, he represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982-1994.


CAUTION you might get a big head.

Tri M Graphics' Creative Group & Production Team are here to help you grow your business and stand out from your competition.

CONCEPT • DESIGN • PRINT • MAIL

trimgraphics.com | 27


REDEFINING AGRIBUSINESS

G

reenSeam is not simply a place; it is also a state of mind and being. We have a real and visceral connection to the land we stand on. We are connected to all the people and enterprises that support, supply and stand with us. We have a heritage that links us with hardworking past generations. Those shoulders upon which we stand have long been innovative and forward-thinking. Advances in farming techniques, developments in production, equipment and technological breakthroughs all had roots in the minds of those inhabiting this GreenSeam; it is a continuum of innovation. • • •

A seed buried in rich ground will germinate A bank loan granted to an enterprising agricultural business A local supply chain of crops and producers, raw materials, suppliers, manufacturers and distributors emanating into the world of consumers and drawing people to the area for agri-tourism with professionals to serve them all

STEELE COUNTY AG STATS

BILLION

dollars in sales in the GreenSeam region - in the following business sectors FOOD PROCESSING METAL MANUFACTURING BANKING ACCOUNTING RETAIL HIGHER EDUCATION CROP PRODUCTION LIVESTOCK OPERATIONS

28 |

Market Value of Products Sold . . . . . . $293,053,000 Crop Sales. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $196,145,000 (67%) Livestock Sales. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $96,908,000 (33%)

CROPS:

Total Value of Agricultural Products Sold $293,053 Corn for Grain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115,274 acres Soybeans for Beans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72,405 acres Vegetables Harvested . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,769 acres Forage-land Used . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,393 acres

Source: 2012 Census of Agriculture - County Profile


A REGION ON THE RISE •

Sixty-five percent of Minnesota’s ag-bioscience is generated in the GreenSeam region.

Riverland Community College is expanding their ag program with the support of the Hormel Foundation.

Steele County is home to Federated Insurance & Linder Farm Network - both organizations are deeply rooted in the GreenSeam.

The GreenSeam Education Action Team has been instrumental in increasing the agribusiness talent pipeline. Minnesota State University, Mankato has added Agriculture as an area of distinction in their Master Plan which they will work on implemeting in the next three years. They are certified as a non-land grant Ag Institution by the USDA.

Investments reached nearly $500 million in development within the GreenSeam region in 2016. These investments only stemmed from a handful of agribusinesses.

Source: University of Minnesota | Extension

Renewable fuels are strong in our state. Al-Corn Clean Fuel has broken ground on a project that will modernize and expand the ethanol plant from 50 million gallans a year, up to 120 million gallons per year. Source: MinnesotaCorn Growers Association

Minnesota is currently the fourth largest ethanol producing state, at 1.18 billion gallons per year. This success is vitally important to the local ecoomy. When crop prices are strong, the GreenSeam region sees an economic surge. Source: Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association

TOGETHER WE ARE THE SEAM. USE THE NAME. OWN IT! GreenSeam has naturally grown into the ‘silicon valley of ag’. The momentum and synergy are alive and well and we hope when you think of southern Minnesota or northern Iowa, you think GREENSEAM!

HISTORY 2013 – March Greater Mankato Growth Board of Directors holds first round table discussion on furthering ag business across the region 2014 – January Greater Mankato Growth holds an Agricultural Business Summit 2014 -June Steering Committee formed to guide and develop the initiative

Agriculture Solutions

Financial Solutions

Technology Solutions

2014 – November Greater Mankato Growth Board of Directors commits $250,000 to launch the project 2015 – April Hired first staff member dedicated to the initiative

GreenSeam spans more than 25 counties in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. If you live or work within that area - you are part of the seam. Whether you are in manufacturing, technology, professional services, education or an industry that has a role touching part of the agriculture umbrella, you are part of GreenSeam. Help share the depth, scope and diversity of ag-related business by sharing your story on greenseam.org. We encourage you to utilize the Greenseam logo on your print and electronic media. Find our brand assets at: greenseam.org/media/brand-assets. Add your business name to our Existing Ag Businesses List by sending us your information at info@greenseam.org

2015 – June Action teams were formed to concentrate on strategic areas of work 2015 – August Branding work began 2016 – June New brand launched

greenseam.org facebook.com/GreenSeam @greenseamregion #greenseampride • #iamag A program of:


BUILDING A SAFER CONSTRUCTION SITE W

hile Lassie was racing home to alert the family that Timmy had fallen down the well, did you ever wonder what Timmy was doing in the first place to get himself into that predicament? Anytime a human being is in motion under his/her own power, there’s a chance of falling. It could be something as benign as stepping off a curb, or as risky as mountain climbing. Or, apparently, getting too close to the edge of a well. You don’t even need to be in a hazardous situation or location for a fall to occur: You’re in a hurry, don’t look where you’re going, and trip over something. You’re looking ahead, not down, and miss the last couple of stair steps. You bend down to reach for something and lose your balance. Unless someone is a skydiver, people generally do their best to avoid falls, because we learn early on that they’re not fun. Falls continue to injure and kill workers every year—many of them in the construction and contractor

industries. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Many falls can be avoided, because most are caused by easily preventable situations; for instance: • slippery surfaces

• Wear footwear with non-slip soles. • Clean up debris and spills, or report them immediately. • Have adequate lighting around walkways and stairs. If you work in situations where ladders are commonplace, they require some additional attention:

• inappropriate footwear • poor lighting • obstacles

• Extension ladders need to have secure footing on level ground.

• inattention • hurrying • unsafe use of ladders Recognizing these hazards and striving to prevent them is something everyone at your construction firm will benefit from. Here are some pointers that can help. • First and foremost, pay attention to your surroundings. Look before you leap—or walk. (And no running!) • Keep walkways clear of cords, equipment, materials. • Use fall restraints if your job necessitates.

• Use the 4:1 rule: for every 4 feet of ladder height, put the base 1 foot away from the wall. • Tie off the ladder or have someone support the base. • Never use the top two rungs. • Don’t over-reach while standing on a ladder. • If carrying a load, use a handsfree system or hoist. We sure don’t go looking for these types of accidents, but sometimes they come looking for us. So, awareness of the reasons falls happen and being constantly watchful for hazards are valuable risk management tools anyone can use.

This information is intended to provide general recommendations for risk prevention only and should not be considered legal or expert advice and are not guaranteed to eliminate all risk of loss. The information herein may be subject to regulations in your state and is not a substitute for federal or state standards that may apply. Qualified counsel should be sought with questions specific to your circumstances. Federated Mutual Insurance Company and its subsidiaries* federatedinsurance.com

30 |

17.12 Ed. 3/17 *Not licensed in all states. © 2017 Federated Mutual Insurance Company


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Around the

Water Cooler Comfort Inn wins hospitality award

Holiday store manager receives award

Owatonna Comfort Inn Manager Vicki Lysne announces an award won by the hotel. According to Lysne: “I am pleased and proud to announce that the Comfort Inn in Owatonna, MN has received a 2017 Gold hospitality award from Choice Hotels International. This award is presented annually to the top hotels within the Comfort Inn brand based on various factors including guest satisfaction ratings.”

Holiday Stationstores, a Midwest based convenience store/gas station chain, is proud to announce that Melissa Schmit, Store Manager of the Owatonna Holiday Stationstore, will be inducted into the organization’s 2016 Pinnacle Club. This is the second year Melissa will be inducted into the Pinnacle Club.

Corporate Recognition celebrates 20 years in business Corporate Recognition, a distributor of promotional products, gifts, and recognition awards, is pleased to announce that it is celebrating 20 years in business. Pam and Ryan Kubat established Corporate Recognition in 1997 to provide businesses with creative and useful methods to advertise their business and recognize their employees. The business became full-time in January 2000 and simultaneously joined the Owatonna Chamber of Commerce. In August 2004, they moved the office to the storefront on Park Square and expanded twice in that location before outgrowing the space and moving to their new larger facility at 125 W. Bridge Street in October 2016. Special events will be planned throughout the year. 32 |

The Pinnacle Club is reserved for those elite Store Managers and District Managers of Holiday Stationstores who have consistently exceptional results in the areas of sales growth, expense control, age-restricted sales compliance and overall business efficiency.

Bremer Bank donates $3,000 to United Way of Steele County Employees of Bremer Bank made generous donations totaling $1,300 to the United Way of Steele County 2016 campaign. Ryan Gillespie and Shannon Pederson, Bremer Bank’s Workplace Campaign Co-Leaders, inspired and informed their coworkers to a 22 percent increase over last year’s giving. Employee giving plus a generous corporate gift of $1,700 helped Bremer Bank finish at No. 20 in United Way of Steele County’s 2016 Top 20 Most Generous Workplaces list. Additionally, Bremer Bank had 100 percent participation in the giving campaign.

Limberg Productions welcomes Shauna Christiansen, Advertising Specialist Limberg Productions is pleased to announce that Shauna Christiansen, Advertising Specialist, has joined the Owatonnalive.com team. According to owner Scott Limberg: “Shauna is a lifelong resident of Blooming Prairie, MN. She brings advertising knowledge from the print media market. We are excited to have Shauna join our team to assist is in our next period of growth, which includes new content launching in 2017.”

Business Development Center launches website The Owatonna Area Business Development Center, FKA the Owatonna Business Incubator, is opening a new and more user-friendly website: https://www.owatonna.biz Bill Owens, Executive Director of the Center, said that is part of the rebranding that started a year ago and that careful consideration was given in developing the site. “The directors of the Center … wanted a site that is the go-to place for everything a business may need,” Owens said. “We kept ease of access foremost, and I think people will be pleased.”


Riverland selects Hoffman as Interim Director

Donations made to Owatonna Foundation Alexander Lumber recently made a $1,000 donation to the Owatonna Foundation.

Dan Hoffman has been selected as Interim Director of the Center for Agricultural and Food Science Technology at Riverland Community College. Dan brings nearly 40 years of experience in agriculture, education, business and leadership to the position. In his new role at Riverland, Hoffman has been asked to provide aggressive leadership and program development for new offerings in agricultural and food sciences. Hoffman will coordinate and manage center operations and activities including partnership development, funding, grant seeking, student recruitment and educational outreach. He will also serve as coordinator for the well-established Farm Business Management program. Hoffman will be working on strategic planning and implementation to advance sustainable program growth.

Corporate Recognition announces new Sales and Marketing Associate Corporate Recognition is pleased to announce that Stephanie Kollasch has been named their new Sales and Marketing Associate. Stephanie will be another front line contact for customers, and will be planning and overseeing all marketing activities including social media posting, referral programs for customers, email marketing and physical mailings of brochures to current and potential customers.

Profinium elects new talent to Board of Directors Profinium, Inc., a Minnesota banking company, has named Christine Rotthoff as one of their newest board members. Rotthoff brings broad knowledge and experience in commercial real estate investment and management. She is a long-time resident of Owatonna and is director of operations for ARISE Group, LLC, a private equity commercial real estate firm and managing partner, and President at CRK Properties, LLC. She is a seasoned commercial property owner, manager and realtor, and the bank board will benefit from her insights about the future growth of the region.

“We are extremely grateful to Alexander Lumber for their continued support. Their continued commitment helps us to continue the Foundation’s mission of improving the quality of life for present and future generations by supporting Owatonna projects that focus on community, arts, recreation and education,” said Foundation Executive Coordinator Laura Resler. The foundation recently received a donation of $1,000.00 from Dean Velzke at Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. Dean said, “My wife Kelly and I are thankful for the many accomplishments of the Owatonna Foundation and appreciate the opportunity to support their goal to improve the quality of life in Owatonna.” The Owatonna Foundation, now in its 59th year of serving the Owatonna community, provides capital grants in Owatonna and its environs.

EXECUTIVE

Oil Change

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Around the Water Cooler Viracon names two new Architectural Sales Reps

Viracon announces the placement of Mitch Hawkins and Patrick Grubish as its newest architectural sales representatives. Their responsibilities include strengthening relationships and marketing Viracon products and services with commercial developers and owners, the architectural community and glazing contractors in their assigned territories. Mitch Hawkins has accepted the responsibility for Viracon’s North

Central territory. His territory includes Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. Mitch graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of WisconsinLa Crosse. Bob Carlson, Viracon’s Northeast Regional Manager, will provide leadership and guidance to Mitch in his new role as architectural sales representative. Patrick Grubish has accepted the responsibility for Viracon’s newly created Mid-Atlantic territory. He will have responsibility for Pennsylvania and out-state cities within New York and New Jersey. Patrick graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota-Winona. Mike Winkler, Viracon’s Southeast Regional Manager, will oversee Patrick’s efforts in his new role as an architectural sales representative.

Strand, Orlowski join RE/MAX Venture

Matt Gillard, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Venture is pleased to announce Grady Strand and Cole Orlowski as the newest agents to join the Owatonna RE/MAX office. "I was drawn to continue my career as a Realtor because of the similarities I noted between Real Estate and my previous occupation,” said Strand. “I enjoy people and am committed to building long term relationships

34 |

with my clients by meeting their needs with excellent customer service, respect, and follow through.” Strand adds, “I’m impressed with the training and ongoing education that both Matt and RE/MAX promote. RE/ MAX Venture in Owatonna is a wonderful fit for me.” “Cole has what it takes to be a very successful real estate agent - a willingness to learn, a natural way of relating to people, and a genuine desire to help his clients and fellow agents,” said Gillard. “He is definitely a ‘team player.’ I couldn’t be happier to have him on our RE/MAX Venture Team and look forward to helping him accomplish everything he sets out to achieve.”

Profinium, Inc., appoints Taylor Herman Vice President, Personal Banking Profinium, Inc., has appointed Taylor Herman to the position of Vice President, Personal Banking. In his new role, Herman will lead the personal banking division for the organization, collaborating with division and market presidents to provide a seamless client experience. Herman has a Bachelor’s degree in Management from Saint John’s University, and has more than seven years of experience at Profinium, most recently as the Assistant Vice President of Personal Banking.

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union announces leadership changes

Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union has tapped Natalie Okonek and Meggan Schwirtz for new leadership positions at the statewide credit union, according to President/CEO Dave Larson. Okonek has been named Consumer Lending Manager, and Schwirtz has been named Assistant Manager at Affinity Plus’ Faribault branch. Okonek, based in St. Paul, has worked for Affinity Plus for six years. She has been manager of the Eagan, Minnesota and Lakeville,


Institute of Business and Finance announces a new CES designee The Institute of Business and Finance recently awarded James Scholljegerdes with the estate planning designation, Certified Estate and Trust Specialist. This graduate-level designation is conferred upon candidates who complete a 135+ hour educational program focusing on trusts, wills, probate, retirement benefits, caring for children, and what should be done after the death of a loved one. CES certification requires proficiency of different types of trusts, ownership rules, disinheritance, probate, pay-on-death accounts, insurance, spousal restrictions, special needs, conservatorships, and managing assets. The student must pass three comprehensive exams and a written case study as well as adhere to the IBF Code of Ethics and IBF Standards of Practice as well as fulfill annual continuing education requirements. The CES program is designed for brokers and advisors who have clients in their 60s or older as well as those who may be providing care to an aging relative. Minnesota branches. Her most-recent position has been as Member Relations manager in Faribault. As Consuming Lending manager, Okonek will provide overall leadership of consumer-lending products and processes, and on continuously improving and growing consumer lending. She will also be involved in the testing and implementing of a new consumer loan origination system; and rolling out supportive functions for consumer lending to credit-union employees. Schwirtz has worked for Affinity Plus for five years, first as a member advisor II in Brainerd, Minn. In May 2015, she relocated to the Twin Cities and joined the Vendor Management team as a Vendor Management Specialist. Most recently, Meggan assisted at the Nicollet Branch in Minneapolis as Interim Branch Manager.

Want to share your company's news?

Send word of your hirings, promotions, awards and more to FORGE@owatonna.com.

CDI appoints Kirsten Budin as Personnel Manager Climate by Design International is pleased to announce that Kirsten Budin has joined their team. Budin brings over 15 years of personnel experience with Northfield Hospital and Clinics where she served several roles including Human Resources Education Assistant, HR Generalist and Director of Human Resources and Education. As CDI's new Personnel Manager, her expertise in benefits and wellness management as well as training and development will support CDI’s future growth. Budin has a BS degree in Human Resources from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota – Twin Cities Campus. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and the Healthcare Human Resources Association, where she serves on the Compensation Survey Committee.

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| 35


Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism

• Why Join the Chamber? •

The Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism (OACCT) brings you innovative member benefits and programs that can make the most of your marketing dollar and provide measurable returns. We’re here to help you engage, influence and make an impact using dynamic programs, services and initiatives designed with your business in mind. Whatever you need to help your business succeed, you’ll find it here at the OACCT.

Visibility

Stand out & be recognized as an active member of the business community. Exposure through our website, publications, referrals & directories.

Networking Build and strengthen your business network by joining 520+ members at any of our 60+ events each year designed to help develop relationships, build your business and attract new clients.

Growth

Our Economic Development, MainStreet & Tourism efforts are working to bring more business and customers to you!

Member Benefits

Community Enhancing a strong, local economy means an environment where people want to live, play & stay in! Also, the source for Chamber Dollars--which can only be redeemed at member businesses!

Credibility Your reputation matters! Chamber membership is respected and supported by the community!

Voice We work to inform, educate, and advocate on your behalf! Have a say in what happens locally, regionally and statewide through our advocacy efforts.

Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce And Tourism 320 Hoffman Drive, Owatonna, MN 55060 | 507.451.7970 • 800.423.6466 • F: 507.451.7972 | oacct@owatonna.org | www.owatonna.org | Hours M-F: 8am-5pm | Follow us on: | |

36 |

For more information about the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, go to


CALENDAR OF EVENTS Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism

SAVE THE DATE CHAMBER GOLF EVENT

BUSINESS BOOT CAMP

Thursday, August 3, 2017 Location: Owatonna Country Club Visibility 10 a.m. Check-In Networking

11 a.m. Shotgun Start Growth

Location: Owatonna Public Library – Gainey Room Time: Noon to 1 p.m.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sponsor:

Sponsor:

5 p.m. Social & Evening Meal Voice Credibility Community

BUSINESS AFTER HOURS 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 2017 EVENTS $15 for event or $25 for a Y-Pro Pass May – Social Networking June – Lunch & Learn August – Lunch & Learn October – Community Involvement December – Social Networking

Location: Michaelson Funeral Home Sponsors:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Location: Owatonna Arts Center Sponsors:

www.owatonna.org or contact Krystle Warnke at 507-451-7970 or kwarnke@owatonna.org.

| 37


Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism

O WA T ONN A T OURISM Chambers Win State Tourism Marketing Award

Upcoming Events

Owatonna, Northfield and Faribault tourism leaders were presented with a Marketing Award of Excellence from Explore Minnesota Tourism for their multi-community branding effort called the Minne-Roadtrip.

Owatonna is host to many events throughout the year. Find out what’s happening in Owatonna at visitowatonna.org.

Group Tours

A Good Year for Travel

In 2016 the Chamber booked 28 group tours at attractions like the National Farmers’ Bank, Orphanage Museum, and Village of Yesteryear.

2016 was a great year for Owatonna tourism. Occupancy in the lodging properties increased by 4% from the previous year. 2017 looks to be a healthy travel year as well.

Meet in

Find Venues

38 |

visitowatonna.org/meetings


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CHOOSE A CONTRACTOR HOW TO

The contractor’s role is to supervise the construction of your project. You need someone who is knowledgeable, responsive and professional.

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• Utilize your network to ensure you find reputable candidates. Family and friends are a great way to identify good candidates, and the Internet is also a great tool. Fully research the company background and identify the types of projects your candidates have performed in the past to make sure that their experience fits your business needs. • If you have special circumstances with your project, look for a contractor that can accommodate. For instance, if you want to stay open during your renovation, ask if the contractor has done past projects in occupied spaces and how they will minimize disruption for your business. • Ask for references from all of your candidates. If any references did not seem wholly satisfied with the work, then you should look to other candidates.

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• Conduct an interview with your contractor to discuss supervision and the timeline that will be established for the project. This is also a good time to talk about the communication plan for the project and how the contractor will keep you informed throughout the process. • Finally, do not assume that the lowest price is the best option. While price is obviously a factor, an extremely low price could indicate shoddy work. Again, do your research and check references. | 39


ECONOMIC

DASHBOARD Comparison Report of building in Owatonna 2016/17 120

2016 Total 2016 Industrial

100

2016 Commercial

80

2017 Total 2017 Industrial

60

2017 Commercial 40 20 0 Millions

Jan ‘16

Jan ‘17

Feb ‘16

Feb ‘17

Mar ‘16

Mar ‘17

April ‘16 April ‘17

May ‘16

May ‘17

June ‘16 June ‘17

July ‘16

July ‘17

Aug ‘16

Aug ‘17

Sep ‘16

Sep ‘17

Oct ‘16

Oct ‘17

Nov ‘16

Nov ‘17

Dec ‘16

Dec ‘17

Source: City of Owatonna

Comparison Report of Homes for Sale to Newly Listed Homes Owatonna

200

2016 New Home Listings

2017 New Home Listings

2016 Homes for Sale

2017 Homes for Sale

150

100

50

0

Jan ‘16

Jan ‘17

Feb ‘16

Feb ‘17

Mar ‘16

Mar ‘17

April ‘16 April ‘17

May ‘16

May ‘17

June ‘16 June ‘17

July ‘16

July ‘17

Aug ‘16

Aug ‘17

Sep ‘16

Sep ‘17

Oct ‘16

Oct ‘17

Nov ‘16

Nov ‘17

Dec ‘16

Dec ‘17

Blooming Prairie

Source: SEMAR

30

2016 New Home Listings

2017 New Home Listings

2016 Homes for Sale

2017 Homes for Sale

25 20 15 10 5 0

Jan ‘16

Jan ‘17

Feb ‘16

Feb ‘17

Mar ‘16

Mar ‘17

April ‘16 April ‘17

May ‘16

May ‘17

June ‘16 June ‘17

July ‘16

July ‘17

Aug ‘16

Aug ‘17

Sep ‘16

Sep ‘17

Oct ‘16

Oct ‘17

Nov ‘16

Nov ‘17

Dec ‘16

Dec ‘17

Source: SEMAR

40 |


FINANCING OPTIONS

FOR INVESTORS

30 Year Fixed Mortgage Rates 5.0

5.0

2017 2016

4.5

INTERST RATE

4.5

4.0 3.5

4.0

3.0

Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

3.5 3.0

Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Source: Freddie Mac

Comparison of Homes for Sale MONTH OF THE YEAR

OWATONNA

ALE

FOR S

BLOOMING PRAIRIE

2016

2017

2016

2017

JAN

109

66

17

4

FEB

99

68

10

4

MAR

83

10

APR

83

16

MAY

86

23

JUN

93

10

JUL

88

13

AUG

90

7

SEP

111

10

OCT

97

7

NOV

87

7

DEC

76

4

If you are looking to finance a real estate purchase, it is important to understand all of your options. 2017 • Cash financing can be one of the best ways 2016 to invest, though few people have the capital available to make their purchases in cash. If you do, however, you should always consider using it. Cash financing gets more offers accepted, and in Q1 2016, investors who paid in cash paid an average of 23% less than other investors. It can also make the process move much quicker and allow investors to see instant equity. • Traditional lenders represent the most common financing option today. Investors should take the interest rates into consideration when pursuing traditional loans, as comparing them against historical averages is a good way to tell if traditional lending is the most viable option in your timeframe. Investors will need an often large down payment, a good credit score and extensive documentation. • Hard-money loans are funded by private businesses and individuals, and they generally provide short term loans with high interest rates. This type of financing generally is determined by the After-Repair Value (ARV) of a property, and they will typically only cover 50-70% of the ARV. These loans do not conform to the strict regulations that limit traditional loans. Hard-money lenders often charge fees on top of the interest on the loan, typically added on as a percentage of the original loan amount. Investors need to be cognizant of these added fees before entering into a contract.

Source: SEMAR

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PARTNERS FOR GROWTH Kris Busse

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS A TEAM EFFORT City of Owatonna

Owatonna has always been a business-friendly community. It has developed from its agricultural heritage as a community with a diverse economy. In the late 1990’s, the city and Chamber of Commerce wanted to ensure a vibrant and growing industrial, commercial and entrepreneurial environment. A partnership was formed between the city, chamber and Owatonna Business Incubator. It was referred to as the three-legged stool for economic development. This group was called “Partners for Progress.” They operated successfully for a number of years until it became necessary to expand the group. It was felt that Owatonna Public Utilities and Steele County were also important players in economic development. Therefore, the expanded group was re-named Owatonna Partners for Economic Development (OPED), consisting of five entities; the City of Owatonna, Steele County, Chamber of Commerce, Owatonna Public Utilities and the Owatonna Area Business Development Center. Economic development is a team effort. We are five partners with one goal, to foster economic development in the Owatonna Area. Our group builds on the strengths of these five organizations to meet the development needs of existing and relocating businesses. This group works together to coordinate services, accommodate requests and fast-track decisions. Each year, OPED develops a strategic plan where we name our highest priorities for the year. 42 |

For 2017, our priorities include: • Bring a new, significant business to Owatonna. • Attract a regional draw to downtown in support of the city’s strategic goal of revitalizing downtown. • Increase an educated, quality workforce. • Develop/redevelop vacant city- and county-owned properties OPED uses many tools and information to achieve these goals. Much information is available on OPED’s website, www. owatonnadevelopment.com. We list available properties and include detailed building and property information and contacts. Several resources are also available on the website to aid businesses, developers and site selectors: for example, retail market analysis, zoning information, local and state financial incentives and utility information. Another channel OPED uses to

attract development is to organize events showcasing the city to potential developers and site selectors. A recent event held was the “Micropolitan Summit” which brought approximately 100 developers, builders and realtors to Owatonna. This resulted in strong interest in generating potential opportunities for development. Other events included lenders meetings, community tours and workforce education events with higher education institutions and local employers. We are focused on economic development for the community, monitoring its health and supporting continued growth. If you need any assistance or have any questions about economic development, please contact Troy Klecker, Owatonna Community Development Director, at 507-774-7316 or troy.klecker@ci.owatonna.mn.us; or Brad Meier, President/CEO Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, at bmeier@owatonna.org.  Kris Busse is City Administrator for the City of Owatonna and a member of the Owatonna Partners for Economic Development.


Steele County Forclosures 1999 2000 2001 2002

According to economists with the National Association of Home Builders:

2003 2004

• The average age of U.S. construction workers is 42. That is older than the average age of the overall workforce, which is 41.

2005 2006 2007

• The age of workers also varies by region, as median ages are highest in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. States with the highest median age of 45 are Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut, while the youngest median ages are in Utah at 36 and North Dakota at 38.

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

WHO’S WORKING CONSTRUCTION?

= 10

• The NAHB also found the median ages of workers in certain construction trades follow a pattern. Workers with younger median ages occupy trades such as helpers, roofers and laborers, while older median ages fill managerial, supervisory and equipment operator positions.

Source: Steele County Recorder's Office

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507-676-0576 legaultimages@gmail.com

| 43


KNOW THE LAW GETTING YOUR BUSINESS IN ORDER As the construction industry rebounds in Minnesota, it is important for construction contractors to have their business structures in order. Many contractors choose to form a limited liability company, or what is commonly known as an “LLC.” While this is not the only option, it is a very a flexible and economical business form that can provide the owners with protection from a number of liabilities associated with the operation of their business. It is now the most common form of business entity being established in Minnesota. In 2014, the Minnesota legislature adopted the Minnesota Revised Limited Uniform Limited Liability Company Act. The law applies automatically to Minnesota LLCs established on or after August 1, 2015. For LLCs established prior to that date, the law provides transitional rules. However, effective January 1, 2018, the new law applies to all Minnesota LLCs, regardless of the date of creation. For an LLC with a single owner, the process is not substantially different than it was previously. However, for an LLC with multiple owners, the new statute makes the issues more complex.The statutory changes require a well-drafted Operating Agreement. This is the document that governs the relationship between the owners of the LLC. To avoid future disputes, it is very important that the owners take the time to discuss their business relationship and reduce their agreements to writing. This can be 44 |

Dave Einhaus Attorney

particularly important in the event of an owner’s death, where surviving family members may not know or understand the arrangements between the owners. The new law has a significant change in the sharing of profits and losses. Unless the Operating Agreement provides otherwise, all profits or losses of the LLC are allocated equally between the owners

Many contractors choose to form a limited liability company, or what is commonly known as an “LLC.” While this is not the only option, it is a very a flexible and economical business form that can provide the owners with protection from a number of liabilities associated with the operation of their business. It is now the most common form of business entity being established in Minnesota. and not in proportion to their percentage of ownership. Unless the Operating Agreement allocates the profits or losses proportionate to ownership, those profits or losses would be allocated equally between the owners.

The same principle applies to the voting power of the owners. Each has an equal vote unless the Operating Agreement provides that the owners have voting power based on their proportion of ownership. Importantly, for any LLC established


Home Federal

before August 1, 2015, without a valid Operating Agreement in place, these statutory provisions will apply to that LLC effective January 1, 2018. Another important function of the Operating Agreement is to establish how the owners will be treated in the event that one of the owners needs to exit the business. In the event of a death, there is usually a desire on the part of the remaining owners to have a right to acquire the interest of the deceased owner. The family of the deceased owner is interested in receiving fair compensation for that interest. A good Operating Agreement will establish the right of the surviving owners to purchase the interest of the deceased owner, will establish how the interest will be valued and will provide for the terms of payment. The Operating Agreement typically addresses similar issues if an owner is incapacitated, files bankruptcy, gets divorced or simply wants to exit. Different arrangements may be made for each of these circumstances. There are a number of other issues that are typically addressed, but the bottom line is that any LLC that has more than one owner is at risk without a well-drafted Operating Agreement. ď ľ Dave Einhaus of Einhaus, Mattison, Carver & Haberman, P.A., has practiced extensively in the areas of business and estate planning since 1979.

CONSTRUCTION LOAN

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JustCallHome.com *APR is Annual Percentage Rate. Construction rates shown are effective 03/01/2017. The interest rate of 1.99% is a limited-time offer for a new, single-family, owner-occupied construction loan. APR is 6.04%. 12-month maximum construction loan term. Maximum loan amount is $1,000,000. Financial example: $250,000 loan, 12-month term, 11 monthly interest-only payments range from $0 to $415 with principal and interest of $250,415 due at construction loan maturity. Subject to normal credit criteria, other restrictions may apply. This is not a commitment to lend. Applications must be submitted by 06/30/2017. Offer is subject to change without notice. Member FDIC.

| 45


TRENDS IN

COMMERCIAL DESIGN

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Agricultural & Commercial Repair

In order to keep employee morale at a high level, organizations need to rethink the design of their space. Employees spend much of their lives in the workplace, so having a great office design can be a great way to attract and retain top talent. Collaboration is key. Businesses need to ensure that their office space allows for employees to frequently and freely interact with one another. Today, private offices are reserved for only the very top organizational level, with most employees occupying smaller workstations in a large open area, with meeting space located nearby. If the need arises for private calls or meeting time, small enclaves with lounge furniture and work surfaces can be provided for employees to use at their leisure. Workspaces for employees must be designed to provide the best value for each individual role. If an employee’s job requires that they are at their desk all day (a customer service representative, for example), then they should be given a larger desk. If employees are not tied to their desks, they should have alternative places at which to work, such as small coffee shops or the enclaves mentioned above. These spaces can help to diversify an employee’s workday and keep morale up. The key to designing an effective workspace is to enable collaboration and keep the needs of the employee at the forefront. If an organization can accomplish these goals, then they will succeed in providing a great place to work.

46 |

Our Welding Repair shop is experienced in all areas of welding. From big jobs to small, we’ve seen it all. Equipment repairs including; agricultural, commercial, livestock, industrial and construction. Metal Services’ portable repair trucks can bring this service right to your door. We specialize in piping and maintenance projects at your location.


FRANCHISING

Franchising can be a great way to run a business without the added risk of starting completely from scratch. If you are considering franchising, check out these tips below.

• Reflect on the type of business you would want to run. It is important to analyze liquid capital requirements and profit margins, of course, but also consider your passion and interest in the industry being considered as this will help get the business off the ground. • Consult a franchise website or magazine in order to get a list of potential options for a franchise. Once you have a narroweddown list of options, research all the companies to get a good understanding of which will best meet your needs. Do not simply rely on potential franchisers for information — be sure to do your own research to get a fair and unbiased understanding of the business. Other current franchisees can be a great resource as you consider your options. • Choose an appropriate location. Talking to people within the franchising company can help you to determine to best place to locate your new business. Once you have everything nailed down, have a lawyer look over the franchising agreement to ensure everything is in order.

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MARKETING

Trends for 2017 When looking to market your business, it is important to take into consideration the rapid acceleration of technology available to your consumers.

Forbes offers these tips:

1

Develop a mobile-first strategy. Internet traffic now comes from mobile devices more than desktop computers, so catering to this form of communication can be vital to the success of any marketing strategy. Make sure that all of your marketing content is optimized for mobile and that it provides an enticing experience both on the go and at home.

2

Interactive content can be a great way to engage consumers with your material. An example, if you scroll down any Facebook feed, you will likely stumble upon several BuzzFeed quizzes that people have shared. Interactive content is far more popular than the passive variety because it allows users to actively participate in your marketing experience.

3

Influencer marketing has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, as people have started to place less trust in traditional advertising and more in the recommendations of social media personalities that they like. Getting the right people to Tweet or post about your product can be key to securing the trust of potential customers.

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48 |


REAL ESTATE NEWS Justin Ohnstad SEMAR

REAL ESTATE MARKET - TRENDS & TAXES The real estate market in southeast Minnesota is strong. That being said, we've been experiencing a shortage of inventory for several months. What does this mean for you? The shortage has caused high demand for many types of properties. We are seeing homes, priced correctly, sold with multiple offers on the table. Buyers are competing more fiercely for those properties. We are getting ready for a hot spring market. Already we are seeing new listings come into market at a moderate pace. Most of them are selling quickly for close to their list price. This is true for the Steele County market and much of the region. Growth is expected in the housing market this year. Why are we seeing this? Nationally, interest rates, while expected to rise a bit this year, are still low. This holds true in our region as well. With new job opportunities and a strengthening economy, we are seeing housing demands in all price ranges. This is good news for those in the market to buy or sell their home. What else affects the real estate market in Minnesota? Legislation. This is why Realtor organizations on both a state and local level are deeply invested in the legislation being proposed for this budget year in Minnesota. Realtors from all over Minnesota recently descended on the capitol to voice their support of several bills to their respective legislators. The Realtor organization is the only trade organization that protects the rights of the homeowner.

A bipartisan bill is being introduced into the legislature — the FirstTime Home Buyer Savings Account Act — which will allow prospective home buyers or one of their family members to create a savings account designated for a first-time home buyer. Eligible expenses would be down payment and closing costs associated with buying a first home. You may be asked, as a consumer, to weigh in on the bill. The bill will provide significant tax benefits to either the first-time homebuyer as the account holder or another account holder, such as parents or grandparents.

We are getting ready for a hot spring market. Already we are seeing new listings come into market at a moderate pace. Most of them are selling quickly for close to their list price. This is true for the Steele County market and much of the region. Growth is expected in the housing market this year.

those provisions should be passed along to Minnesota taxpayers for state tax purposes. Unfortunately, if these tax benefits are extended after Minnesota’s Legislative Session is adjourned or federal conformity legislation is not signed into law by the Governor, these important federal tax benefits for homeowners are not immediately passed along for state tax purposes. This proposal would allow Minnesota homeowners to see immediate benefit from federal tax legislation such as mortgage debt cancellation, tax relief and mortgage insurance premium deductibility. So whether or not you ever buy another home, Realtors are the professionals protecting your rights. What’s the bottom line for the real estate market here at home? Now is a wonderful time to sell your home. Contact your Realtor today! For a list of Realtors in your area, you can go to www.semnrealtors.com, where you will also see resources to assist you in choosing your Realtor, information about programs to help you buy a home and information on your area.  Justin Ohnstad is president of Southeast Minnesota REALTORS® and is an ERA Gillespie agent based in Owatonna.

Another bill being introduced is for automatic tax conformity for homeownership provisions passed on a federal level. Why is this important? Each year, the Minnesota Legislature reviews tax legislation enacted at the federal level and determines which of | 49


Owatonna Lodging Tax 2016 Collected 2015

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SCREENING OPTIONS

Did you know that the overall lifetime risk for developing colon cancer is 1 in 21? According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the United States and the secondleading cause in men. It is expected to cause about 50,260 deaths during 2017. If you are over 50, you should be screened every 10 years. If you think you may be at a higher-thanaverage risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your provider about getting screened earlier. While colonoscopy is generally considered to be the procedure of choice for colon cancer screening, patients do have several options. Some of the most common colon cancer screening tests are outlined below. If your health care provider recommends that you have a colon cancer screening, then talk with him or her about which option is best for you. It usually depends on your risk and family history.

• Colonoscopy is used to visually examine your entire colon and rectum for abnormalities. During the exam, a colonoscope — a long, flexible tube about the thickness of an adult finger — is inserted into your rectum. A tiny video camera at its tip allows the health car provider to view the inside of your colon. • Fecal occult blood test is a lab test used to check stool samples for hidden (occult) blood. Stool sample collection can be done at home. There's no need to empty the colon ahead of time. The test, however, fails to detect most polyps and some cancers. • Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an exam used to evaluate the lower part of the colon. A thin, flexible tube (sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows a health care provider to view the inside of the rectum and most of the lower part of the colon. • Barium enema is a special X-ray used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine

(colon). A lubricated enema tube is inserted into the rectum to deliver liquid barium and sometimes air into the colon. This provides a clear silhouette of the inner lining of the colon on X-ray images. • Stool DNA Testing (Cologuard) is where a sample of your stool is used to look for DNA changes in cells that suggest the presence of colorectal cancer or precancerous conditions. The test also looks for signs of blood in your stool. This test is less sensitive than colonoscopy at finding precancerous polyps, and if your test results are not normal, you will need to have a colonoscopy. Choosing a colon cancer screening test isn't always an easy decision, but it's a potentially lifesaving one. Consult your health care provider about your colon cancer screening options. Whatever your choice, remember that some screening is better than no screening.  Josh Froman, M.D., is a general surgeon who performs colonoscopies at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna.

| 51


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When considering which benefit plans to offer to employees, it may be worth looking into Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). ESOPs are a trust fund set up by companies in which the company either contributes shares directly, provides cash for employees to buy stocks, or provides a plan for them to borrow money to pay for shares (the company would then contribute money for loan payments). Contributions to the plan are taxdeductible, and employees do not have to pay any tax on these contributions until they leave the company and receive the stock. If an ESOP owns more than 30% or more of a C corporation’s stock, then the firm can defer taxation on any gains by reinvesting elsewhere. S corporations can also have ESOPs, and earnings attributable to the ESOP’s stake in such a corporation are not taxable. Employees who participate in ESOPs do substantially better than those who don’t. A Washington State study showed that ESOP participants made 5-12% more in wages and ended up with three times the amount of retirement assets as those who did not participate. Companies can also stand to benefit from offering these plans. Companies who offer ESOPs or similar ownership plans account for over half of Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” lists on a consistent basis. Offering ESOPs can be good for company image, and it should be considered as a viable benefit option.


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IN THE JUNE ISSUE

keeping steele strong

MUSIC MAKES MONEY

From concerts to manufacturing to fundraising, music is big business in Steele County. In June, FORGE Magazine will be exploring all the ways that music drives the local economy, and looking at how the many jobs and industries tied to music have shaped Steele County. We’ll also be bringing you another profile on the movers and shakers of Steele County; more local business news to discuss Around the Water Cooler; the latest from our partners in education, agriculture and health care, and much more. Watch your mailbox for the June issue of FORGE, and if there’s something you’d like to see in it, email Associate Editor William Morris at FORGE@Owatonna.com.

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Forge April 2017  
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