Small Business Saturday

Seeking year-end profitability, big box retailers and mega-malls needed a promotion to jumpstart holiday shopping immediately after Thanksgiving. Along came Black Friday, with overflowing carts at the registers, so-called door-buster specials, and occasional short fuses. Online retailers did the same for Cyber Monday, with or without compromising credit card security.

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Military Veterans Are Strong Workforce Options

Older Americans will likely recall when November 11 and Veterans Day were known as Armistice Day, so-named to mark the armistice treaty ending World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month back 1918 (wow, almost 100 years ago).

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Manufacturing Transitions to New Era

The state’s top elected official recently proclaimed October as Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin. He says manufacturing is the backbone of the state’s economy and local industries often serve as a staple in their respective communities through the creation of family-supporting jobs and ongoing capital investments.

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Kitty Rhoades will be remembered as a UW-River Falls grad, educator, small business owner, chamber executive, state representative, and state cabinet secretary. She is also credited with coining the term, Winnesota.

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Ribbon of Highway

Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Guthrie, the folk singer who found inspiration from the Dust Bowl era, may be best remembered for writing This Land is Your Land. A key line in the ballad is, “As I was walking that ribbon of highway, I saw above me that endless skyway.” The term, ‘ribbon of highway’ creates a dark image of desperate Okies from Oklahoma migrating to California on bad two-lane roads during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

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Jugglers Wanted

A young man with my last name began his junior year in high school in August. He juggles school and homework with a couple of part-time jobs – an outside seasonal one and a steady job indoors. In the spring he’ll add another ball to his juggling act when varsity baseball rolls around. He is not the only student-athlete-employee-juggler in high school. This circus act is repeated from one community and school district to the next.

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Friday Night Lights

Has the economic impact of high school football games across the U.S. ever been measured? Win or lose on Fridays, my unscientific reasoning includes ticket sales, concessions, benefit raffles, pre-game meals, convenience store stops, new sports apparel, and post-game wrap-up sessions, commonly referred to as parties.

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A.M. Conversations

A couple weeks ago, I made a morning pit stop at a local coffee shop on my way into the office. Ever the chatterbox, I had a brief conversation with the shop’s barista. I found out I had coached her in the local rec soccer program, lo those many years ago. My inspirational pep talks must not have left much of an impression, because her reply to the soccer connection was “No way!”

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Amber Waves

Agriculture makes a substantial contribution to the economy of St. Croix County. The state’s welcome sign along I-94 in Hudson reminds us of this, listing industry, recreation, and agriculture for passing motorists to see. From 2014 statistics, UW-Extension estimated 3,678 jobs in St. Croix were connected to agriculture; it accounts for $551 million in economic activity; and pays $8.6 million in sales, income, property, and other taxes.

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Recipe for a New Bridge

After four plus years of construction, the St. Croix Crossing opened for traffic on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017.
It’s been said that I am one the project’s biggest boosters. Did I drive across it as soon as I could? Did I walk across it? Cycle across it? No comment. No comment. No comment.

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Real Estate Values Finally Recover

Today’s hot real estate market is far different than the downward spiral and crash that started in 2008 and impacted 2009 values and beyond, according to annual reports from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Equalized values are the foundation to support local taxes levied by towns-villages-cities, school districts, and counties.

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Who Are We?

The question, ‘Who are we?’ should not be confused with the album and song from the late 1970s, ‘Who are you?’

But I really want to know.

Who are we? Who, who, who, who? In particular what makes up St. Croix County? Some of the answers can be found in an electronic QuickFacts system created by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Area’s Most Affluent Zip Code – Houlton, WI

G. Scott Thomas is a projects editor for Buffalo Business First, part of the fleet of publications operated by American City Business Journals. To say that Mr. Thomas is a numbers guy is akin to saying Richard Leinenkugel knows a little bit about beer. I like Mr. Thomas and I like the 150 years the Leinenkugel family has devoted to their trade. Exhaustive work on both fronts.

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Cheers To Industry Clusters

St. Croix County has another budding cluster – alcohol – in the form of breweries, distilleries, and wineries. A skeptic may suggest that while others chase uncatchable business sectors, some revert to the lowest common denominator: alcohol.

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John, Howard, and the St. Croix River Crossing

A debt of gratitude goes out to a couple of elder statesmen for their contributions in making the St. Croix River Crossing a reality. I’ll call them John and Howard. Their names may (or may not) have been changed to protect their true identities.

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Going Low, Going High

May 2017’s unemployment rates for Wisconsin counties and large cities were released by the state’s Department of Workforce Development on June 21st. The state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 3.1% came out a week earlier. if the seasonally adjusted components are not factored in, Wisconsin’s rate of 2.8 percent is even lower. The suggested theme here is “Going Low”.

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Field of Dreams

Do you recognize the name Archibald Wright Graham? Would his nickname “Moonlight” Graham help? How about the novel, Shoeless Joe, or the movie, Field of Dreams?

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