Essentia purchases property

$1.8 million. That’s approximately how much Essentia Health spent on five properties located to the west of its campus, according to St. Louis County property records.

The properties — located at 309, 311, 317, 321 and 323 along East First Street — were purchased in late September.

We’ve covered the hospital’s plans extensively: Essentia is moving forward with plans to possibly build a parking ramp — with the majority of the funding coming from private sources — on these lots.

To do this, it would have to raze the housing. People who live here fear they have nowhere to go because Duluth faces an affordable housing shortage. However, Essentia has pledged to help them find new houses.

Northern Minnesotans helping Google

Google launched an economic development competition for Minnesota nonprofits. And who’s helping in the selection process? A few northern Minnesotans, of course.

Tony Sertich, president of the Northland Foundation, and Susan Marvin, chair of the board for The Marvin Companies, will help judge the applicants.

The Grow with Google competition is seeking nonprofit applicants who have ideas for growing economic opportunities in their communities. Five nonprofits will receive $175,000 in grant funding and training from Google.

Then, Minnesotans can vote on which of these five nonprofits they think will bring the greatest economic impact. This nonprofit would then receive an additional $125,000.

The competition closes Nov. 15 — go get ‘em.

Housing inequality growing among senior citizens

The number of older households that are cost-burdened is climbing in the U.S., according to a new Harvard University report.

And those trends are evident in the Duluth-Superior region.

In this area, 29% of heads of households ages 65 and older are cost-burdened. Meaning, more than 30% of their income goes to housing. It’s even higher in the Twin Cities metro area: One in three older heads of households are cost-burdened.

Households that are cost-burdened may cut back on items essential to health and well-being, like grocery expenses.

I don't have the space to summarize everything from this report in the column, but encourage you to check it out here: www.jchs.harvard.edu/housing-americas-older-adults-2019

Here we go again

Minnesota’s labor market tightened again last month. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.2%, down 0.1% from the month before.

This means employers have an even smaller pool of applicants to hire from, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Although there’s a shrinking number of job seekers, job growth is slowing. Minnesota only gained 100 jobs last month, compared to 400 jobs gained in August, according to DEED's seasonally adjusted figures.

Kelly Busche has been a business and health industry reporter with the News Tribune since August, during which she's only seen the unemployment rates continue to fall.