Brooks is an investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.
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The Number: $75,468 That's how much money Indian Point Park Campground brought to the city last year — more than double the annual revenue that was coming in between 2010-12. Parks and Recreation Manager William Roche lauded "the success our campground is having under the management of Spirit Lake Development LLC." The Word
Duluth's poorest neighborhoods could look more attractive to outside investment if an initiative tucked inside recently passed federal tax reform plays out as intended. The new program allows investors to defer taxes on capital gains if they invest those profits in areas identified as Opportunity Zones, the poorest Census tracts in a state as selected by their governors.
It's easy to buy a new outfit online. It's often cheaper, too. Convenience has consequences. Later this year, 134 people will lose their jobs when Younkers closes at the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. Bankrupt parent company Bon-Ton Stores is facing liquidation after no buyer came forward to save the retail chain. "We are disappointed by this outcome," CEO Bill Tracy said in a statement. Many customers were disappointed to learn they will lose a longtime shopping destination. Count Wendy Heavirland among them.
The Number: $9,068
If a trade war is coming, Minnesota will be a battlefield. Since President Donald Trump announced tariffs on select imports of steel and aluminum last month, cheers and jeers have reverberated around the state. As proposed, the Iron Range will directly benefit from increased steel production and prices. Meanwhile, many farmers will take a direct hit to their bottom line.
The Number: 70.2 percent That was Minnesota's workforce participation rate in February, according to DEED — the second-highest in the country after North Dakota, because you just work from 5 years old until you die in North Dakota (I'm from there, I should know). Because the numbers say the workforce will be shrinking in coming years — just as employers are in full-on hiring mode — keeping that participation rate up will mean better economic growth and presumably better lives for everyone as a result. That's the economic Kool-Aid we've been sold, anyway.
Whether it's good policy or good timing, Minnesota appears to be ridding the roads of uninsured drivers. The number of people charged with not carrying auto insurance has dropped by a third in the past five years, according to state court records. In St. Louis County, no-insurance cases have dropped by 28 percent since 2013. That could be due to a new law requiring drivers to show proof of insurance when they register or re-register vehicles. Before 2016, just a signature would suffice.
Duluth will lose its Younkers, and 134 people will lose their jobs — if no one rescues parent company Bon-Ton Stores Inc. from bankruptcy. "Bon-Ton is in active discussions with an investor group to acquire the company in a court-supervised sale process," the company said in a statement Friday. "We are encouraged by the interest in Bon-Ton, and we hope that jobs will be preserved through a sale process."
Fewer people are expected to carry health insurance now that there will be no federal requirement to have it. But hospitals will still be required to provide emergency care to everyone who needs it. That will mean more charity care and unpaid bills, or uncompensated care, for hospitals. So what happens next? The News Tribune asked experts that question for a story you can read in full here: (LINK) Here's a summary of what we learned:
The Number: $302,400 That's how much Ikonics Corp. CEO Bill Ulland made in total compensation last year, according to SEC filings. That reflects a 3 percent salary raise and a slight increase in deferred compensation over 2016. And as long as we're digging through proxy statements, let it also be known that Joseph R. Nerges is the largest sole shareholder of the company, owning 19 percent of outstanding shares. The only other thing I quickly found out about Nerges is that he's been consistently selling Ikonics stock since May last year.