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The Memo: What to know in business this week

The Number: 17.8

That’s the percentage of Duluthians who live in poverty. Census data released last week showed the greater Twin Ports area — St. Louis, Carlton and Douglas counties — has a poverty rate of 13.5 percent, the same as the nation as a whole, though still well above the state’s 10.2 percent rate. The silver lining in this new data? Duluth’s poverty rate has averaged 22.4 percent since 2011 — meaning nearly 5 percent of the city’s population has climbed out of poverty as of last year.

The Word:

“It definitely affects business, because people don’t have the cash to spend,” said Angie Miller, executive director of Community Action Duluth, referring to poverty rates in the area. She pointed out that poverty rates hit the city’s minority communities especially hard — whether that is improving, according to the numbers, will be known in more detail later this year.

The Lead:

In what may be the biggest mobile food innovation since Korean tacos, Farmers Insurance now is offering food truck insurance in Minnesota.

“Through its new offering, Farmers has begun to offer licensed food truck owners a single policy that combines commercial automobile coverage for their truck with a restaurant business owner policy,” the company says.

The Happy Hour:

With news of Tycoons Zenith Alehouse closing for a week in October and gastropub Blind Pig taking its place, some wondered about the future of the basement speakeasy The Rathskeller. Well, wonder no more.

“No changes are planned with The Rathskeller other than the inclusion of all-new great drinks and beer,” the company said Friday. “Also, The Rathskeller will remain open during the time that Tycoons is closed for the switchover (Oct. 15-22).”

Another bit from the company release for the etymologists out there — blind pig was an old Midwestern term for speakeasy. So, there you go.

The Meeting: Imagine Duluth kickoff

The city officially starts its comprehensive planning process during an open house this week. If that sounds boring, that’s because many terribly important things tend to be boring. But the comprehensive plan, also known as Imagine Duluth 2035, will guide land-use policy and affect the lives of Duluthians, businesses and visitors for generations. Getting involved puts the “public” in this critical public policy. 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Denfeld High School, 401 N. 44th Ave. W.

The Memo is a weekly roundup of things to know, ya know? Send business news of all kinds to biz@duluthnews.com and give lonely business reporter Brooks Johnson a call every now and then at (218) 723-5329. And, since this is the first week of this new recurring feature, any input on what you’d like to see here would be appreciated.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks covers business and the economy for the Duluth News Tribune.

(218) 723-5329
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