Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.
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I was an old man by the time I finally got around to appreciating chicken wings. It was the summer of my 24th year, and to celebrate my future wife's birthday, we descended on a sports bar known for inexpensive, flavorful chicken appendages. (It's the Desperado in Missoula, Montana, if you're ever out there.) Once I got the hang of the carnal act, I was hooked, and we have been searching for a comparable experience since.
The Number: 16,258
It was the morning of the great storm of 2018... Wait, which one? It might be time to start naming all the Lakewalk-destroying storms like the one Duluth suffered Wednesday, as experts say they're likely to increase frequency in the future. Already in the past 20 years it has been markedly wetter and windier in St. Louis County, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's storm event database. The increasing intensity and frequency of severe weather is a trend expected to continue as the climate changes.
A very specific set of circumstances led to the catastrophic fires of 1918. It’s not impossible, but it does appear unlikely it could happen again. “You have a whole mix of contributors — the railroad, the logging operations that had slash piles, a lot of the farm clearings and the drought they had that summer and fall,” said Josh Muchow, a forester with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Today a lot of those factors don’t exist or are minimized.”
SuperAmerica, a convenience store chain founded in 1960 in St. Paul with four locations in Duluth, will now be known as Speedway. The change follows the recent merger of Marathon Petroleum Corp., the Ohio-based owner of the Speedway brand, and Andeavor, which has owned the SuperAmerica brand since 2016. Marathon CEO Gary Heminger told Fox Business in May the combined company, now the largest refiner in the U.S., will "take a Speedway platform coast-to-coast."
The Number: 1,714 That's how many Northeastern Minnesota jobs were supported by exports to Canada in 2017, according to a study from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at UMD. Those jobs jumped 20 percent between 2016 and 2017 amid the iron mining resurgence, and with a new trade deal smoothing out relations, we're all on course to be Jets fans.
On a cool, rainy Thursday, Bear looks longingly out the window. When will his next new friend arrive? The mascot and namesake of Hucklebeary didn't need to wait long for the doors of 106 E. Superior St. to swing open, something that happens quite often as his owner's crafty business nears its first anniversary. "It's been a wonderful opportunity," said Emily Ekstrom, the self-described "one-woman show" behind Hucklebeary. "It's been great to connect with different makers in the area — being a platform for showcasing their wares."
The president says the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is a "wonderful" trade deal, a "historic transaction." But what does it do for the Northland? "From what I am reading, this agreement is long on rhetoric and short on real impact," said Tony Barrett, retired economics professor at the College of St. Scholastica. "Perhaps the biggest impact is removing a large source of uncertainty hanging over North American businesses. That certainty going forward will allow businesses to make investment decisions they may have been holding off on."
The Number: $7.6 million
Minnesota's highest unemployment rates this summer were recorded up on the Iron Range — but they were a strikingly low 4.9 percent in Hibbing and 3.9 percent in Virginia in August, according to data released last week by the Department of Employment and Economic Development. Across St. Louis, Carlton and Douglas counties, the unemployment rate struck 3.3 percent in August, the lowest rate of the summer and the lowest the jobless rate in the tri-county area since October last year.