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The Memo: What to know in business this week for Jan. 7

The Number: $203 million

That's how much tax revenue was generated in tax-increment financing (TIF) districts across the state in 2017, according to a recent report from the state auditor, and nearly all of that money did not go to cities, counties and schools but to the debt that (arguably) made the tax generation possible. If your eyes are already glazing over feel free to skip ahead to much more exciting sentences below, but here are some other interesting tidbits from the report: There is more than $1.7 billion in outstanding debt associated with the state's 1,654 TIF districts, and even as the total number of districts continued its 13-year decline, 2017 was the first year in a while that more were created than decertified. A trend to watch.

The Word: "If you are idling your car because you think the car's engine needs it — don't. If it's bitterly cold out, you can let your car warm up for a minute or two to allow the oil to warm up," writes the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, but according to Duluth city ordinance if your car is running, the keys are in it and it's parked on a street, alley or parking lot you have to be in it. Or else, and this is straight from the ordinance, a "police officer is authorized and directed to remove therefrom the keys left therein and to deliver the same to the officer in charge at police headquarters."

The Lead: Minnesota is high on the list to be one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana, writes Forbes contributor Tom Angell. He says Gov. Tim Walz is keen on the green, having previously signaled support for legalization, though a divided Legislature could keep the issue stashed away for the time being. In any case, I'll brush up on the pot puns and marijuana metaphors by the time we cross the bong bridge, promise.

The Happy Hour: J.J. Astor is no longer serving lunch on weekdays, according to an elevator button that refused to light up when I pressed it repeatedly last week. The weekday lunch service has reportedly moved downstairs to Bowery Bros, which serves the same menu but without the 16th-floor spinning views of the city.

The Meeting: Go global local

Drink Belgian ales with Suzanne Cormie from the Canadian Consulate at a North American trade-focused meeting of the Arrowhead Manufacturers & Fabricators Association from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Blacklist Artisan Ales in downtown Duluth. It's $15 to register, sign up at www.amfa-mn-wi.org.

The Memo is a weekly roundup of things to know, ya know? Send business news of all kinds to biz@duluthnews.com and give TIF 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