Small businesses of the 8th

A new report from the federal government gives insight into the small businesses that make up each congressional district. And in the 8th Congressional District, there's over 14,000 small businesses that employ nearly 133,000 people, according to the report.

The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration, which released the report last week, defines small businesses as those that employ fewer than 500 people.

The construction industry has the highest number of small businesses in the region, with over 2,200 businesses. But, the retail trade industry employs far more people, with more than 17,400 employed in the industry and about only 9,500 employed in the construction industry.

Those are all the facts I can fit in this column, but I highly suggest you check out the report at advocacy.sba.gov.

Duluth airport wants you

The Duluth International Airport has an open house on Tuesday where you — the members of the public — can learn about its master plan and even get involved.

A master plan provides the framework for an entities’ future projects or initiatives. The airport started work on its master plan — dubbed Vision 2040 — just this summer.

As the airport creates the plan, it’s seeking public feedback and encouraging people who want to be involved to attend. Members of the project teams will also be there to answer questions.

The open house runs 6-8 p.m. in the airport terminal’s third floor conference room, with a presentation at 6:45 p.m.

I recently sat down with three airport staff members to discuss the plan. They predict an increase in air traffic at the airport, resulting in a possible terminal expansion or remodel, a new air traffic control tower and more jobs.

Projects that result from the plan would still have to go through environmental reviews and funding must be secured before they start, according to a news release from the airport.

Vikre Distillery goes organic

Vikre Distillery in Duluth’s Canal Park is adding a new label to some of its products: Organic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture organically certified three of its gins and one aquavit. The Boreal Juniper Gin, Boreal Spruce Gin, Boreal Cedar Gin and Øvrevann Aquavit can officially be called organic now, according to a news release from the distillery.

This means that pesticides or fertilizers were not used in the product's production, among a few other stipulations.

An interesting note from the news release: Vikre is helping spirits catch up to a wave of organically certified products, as spirits have apparently lagged behind food products in organic certification.

Kelly Busche is a business and health care industry reporter for the News Tribune. Write to her at kbusche@duluthnews.com.