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The Memo: What to know in business this week

The Number: 99.999 percent

That’s how safe oil pipelines are, according to a 2015 report by an industry association. It’s hard to think of anything else that delivers anything with that kind of guarantee — certainly not planes, trains, automobiles or birth control. But consider this: Enbridge’s pipeline terminal in Superior is capable of handling 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. So that remaining 0.001 percent of oil is statistically equal to 2,500 barrels, or 105,000 gallons, per day. Even that slight statistical risk has led pipeline opponents to call for oil abstinence.

The Word

“I’m very optimistic about our place and our position in our industry; I’m not so optimistic about Minnesota,” said Gary Moline, president of Duluth’s industrial baking equipment manufacturer Moline Machinery. Looking at our tax structure compared to other states, including neighboring Wisconsin, he said he’s “fairly unhappy with the climate here. It’s not easy to pick up and move, but over time it has an impact on risk, tolerance for risk and overall attitude.”

The Lead

Just a thought, but perhaps the only two words in this great language better than “free beer” are “free rent.” The Greater Downtown Council is offering up several Duluth storefronts rent-free for holiday pop-up shops. The retail spaces range from a wee 164 square feet in the skywalk to 2,500 square feet in the former Bagley & Co. Jewelers on Superior Street. No question these spaces will go fast, so hurry up and assert your holiday squatters’ rights. Contact the GDC at 727-8549, or email Kristi Stokes at

The Happy Hour

While there is certainly some excitement around Miller Hill Mall’s next tenant, Twin Cities-based tap house chain Lucky’s 13 Pub, it dashed the dreams of a Golden Corral taking over the old Old Country Buffet space. That had been the case for several shuttered Old Countrys in the Cities, after all, and there are no remaining American buffets in the Twin Ports. Woe is the hearty appetite for now, though perhaps there is still hope the Corral will yet heed the call of the salivating masses somewhere, somehow.

The Meeting

UMD Entrepreneurship Conference: Business school is about what you know; business is about who you know. (But what do I know, I went to journalism school.) Soak up some knowledge and pass out some business cards at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s second annual Entrepreneurship Conference. The student-run conference takes place in the Kirby Ballroom from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tuesday. It’s free for students, staff and faculty and $60 for everyone else. Register at

The Memo is a weekly roundup of things to know, ya know? Send business news of all kinds to and give old country business reporter Brooks Johnson a call every now and then at (218) 723-5329.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

(218) 723-5329