State business chamber blames slow growth on worker shortage, high taxes

The state’s economy is growing slower than the national average; that’s according to the annual Business Benchmark report from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber blames the state economy’s “underperforming growth” on the labor shortage as well as high taxes and costs.

The report measured the state’s position nationwide in certain measures, including growth in GDP, annual exports and unemployment rate.

Here’s a quick peek at some of the stats in the report:

  • Minnesota saw a 2.2% growth in its GDP

  • Income per capita was $57,515, compared to the national average of $54,448

  • The unemployment rate was 3.3%, slightly below the nation’s rate of 3.7%

Duluth nursing home nationally recognized

The Benedictine Living Community of Duluth made the U.S. News and World Report’s list of “Best Nursing Homes.”

The online publisher — known for its rankings of colleges, hospitals, graduate schools and more — evaluated more than 15,000 nursing homes to make its decision. Its analysis included considering data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as information on preventing ER visits, pneumonia vaccination rates and staffing levels.

Millions in funding up for discussion at public meeting

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is hosting a public meeting on Wednesday to discuss the use of millions in funding from the Volkswagen settlement.

Over $23 million from the settlement — which was the result of Volkswagen violating the federal Clean Air Act — is earmarked for efforts that reduce air pollution, according to the MPCA.

According to the MPCA’s draft plan: 65% of the total approximately $23 million will be directed to electrifying the state’s transportation. Meaning, we’ll see the money invested in heavy-duty electric vehicles, electric school buses and electric vehicle charging stations.

Lucie Amundson, a public information officer with the MPCA, shared that the funding will be allocated via grants, which communities, companies or public entities apply for. The MPCA will judge applications on a competitive basis, and has a plan to allocate 40% of the funds to greater Minnesota.

People can give feedback on this draft plan or ask questions at the meeting, which runs Wednesday 4-6 p.m. at the MPCA’s Duluth office, 525 Lake Ave. S., Suite 400.

Record spending expected

The National Federation of Independent Businesses is predicting record high spending for Small Business Saturday.

Last year, consumers spent an estimated $17.8 billion on Small Business Saturday, according to the NFIB. This year, the NFIB expects to see even more consumer spending — topping all previous records. Whoa, go small businesses!

Kelly Busche covers business and the health care industry for the News Tribune. She's interested to see if consumers break previous Small Business Saturday records.