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Grand Superior Lodge Hosts Chamber of Commerce Gathering

The Lake County Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership luncheon on January 17th at Grand Superior Lodge. The event was well attended and featured a presentation by Doug Loon and Vicki Stute, President and Vice President, respectively, of the Minnesota Chamber.

The Minnesota Chamber represents 6,300 businesses from across the State. 75% of these are small businesses. The Chamber’s goal is to work with business leaders at the local and state level to build consensus so that local economies and job markets meet local challenges and needs. To accomplish this, both State and local Chambers are involved in a number of initiatives on a regular basis including, advocacy at the State Capitol to promote pro-growth policies, connecting business leaders to each other for the purpose of planning, sharing ideas and problem solving at the local level, and seeking growth opportunities that will advance the private sector’s efforts to help build strong economies and provide good jobs.

In his presentation, Doug Loon indicated that Minnesota ranks in the bottom 20 states across a number of economic growth indicators including a decline in the state’s GDP and workforce migration to other states. Additionally, Loon stated that Minnesota’s tax rate for both individuals and businesses is among the highest in the country.

To address these concerns, the Chamber will be working to advance individual and corporate tax reform so that Minnesota moves away from being one of the top taxed states in the country.

Growing the workforce will also be a focal point. Legislative priorities for the Chamber include strengthening alignments between education systems, workforce programs and the needs of employers to have access to a more streamlined approach to get prospective workers trained and certified so that jobs can be filled more rapidly. Other Chamber goals include promoting sensible environmental regulation while improving speed and transparency in the process of environmental review and permitting. The Chamber is looking to have the process take months, not years. A lengthy permitting system can cause businesses to locate to other states that have a permitting is more efficient. Finally, the Chamber will be working to ensure, among other things, that more opportunities for affordable housing and child care are available to meet the needs of both employers and working families.

The issue of paid family leave was mentioned during Tuesday’s presentation. This issue is currently being debated in the State legislature and Loon indicated that it is likely to pass in the Senate. The Chamber’s concern about this is that mandating paid family leave will be costly to employers. This will likely be a thorny issue due to the fact that with an aging population, the decline in elder care facilities and the high cost of childcare, there is an increasing need for workers to have access to paid leave so that they can care for sick family members and not be thrown into financial chaos. It will be necessary for the Chamber and State legislators to work together to design an approach that will address the needs of both workers and employers.

Vicki Stute gave a presentation on an initiative by the State Chamber to provide affordable health insurance for small and mid-sized employers who have between 2 and 300 employees. Chamber Health by Medica is a fully funded plan designed exclusively for Chamber members. Because it is a statewide plan, it offers features and benefits that are typically available only to large companies. Interested business owners can get more information by contacting the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

The following members of the Lake County Chamber will be filling vacancies on the Board of Directors; Billy Wilson, from LaBounty, Michael Cavallin, from Cavallin Plumbing, Amy Jordahl, from State Farm Insurance, Daniel Fuentes from Daniel Perry Voiceovers and Sara Zeleznikar, from Odyssey Resorts. Each will each be serving three year terms on the Board. Michael Cavallin will also serve a one year term as Board Chairperson.

Rick Evans
Rick Evans
My wife, Marsha Kinzer (a proud DEHS Greyhound, class of ‘77) introduced me to the North Shore on vacation in 2012. It became our regular escape when the stress of our careers in education became overwhelming, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the breathtaking scenery, the nice people, and “salad” containing Jell-o and marshmallows. So you can either blame or thank my loving wife for my being here, because when we needed to choose a retirement hometown, Marsha advocated hard for her beloved Duluth, and here we are, six months later. Yes, this will be my first northern Minnesota winter. Yes, I welcome thoughts and prayers. Government, public policy, and social justice weighed heavily in the curriculums I taught at the high school level over a thirty-eight year career. In addition, we were a laboratory school focused on critical thinking in conjunction with technical and scientific writing. So when I found myself adrift on the great ocean of retirement and spied a raft, I jumped at the chance to take up what I’d left behind…minus the bad teachers’ lounge coffee. My position at the NSJ allows me to combine my passions for government and writing, and it’s helping me to feel less out of touch in new surroundings. When I’m not being “Cubby” (Marsha’s favorite new nickname for this green reporter) I enjoy pointing at eagles and saying, “Look, honey. There’s an eagle.” I’ve had an active side hustle as a professional musician for almost as many years as Charlie Parr. As a guitarist/singer/songwriter, I graced the stages of clubs and festivals around southern Wisconsin, including an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. Should I even mention A Prairie Home Companion, or am I the only one here old enough to remember what that is? Look! An eagle!
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