Veterans Day 101

SCEDC BLOG

Veterans Day 101

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Veterans Day approaches. Unlike Memorial Day which pays tribute to those who died serving in the military, Veterans Day honors all who served. The younger generation may appreciate a backgrounder on the topic while the older, seasoned generation may use it as a review.

The Great War, World War I, officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. Active fighting did not completely end until a temporary stoppage went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The temporary stoppage was also called an armistice. The term, the war to end all wars, was widely used to mark the armistice.

November 11, 1919 was the inaugural Armistice Day observance, as proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson.

Federal legislation in 1938 made the 11th of November of each year a legal holiday. Armistice Day was still the term used to honor the veterans. But given World War II in the 1940s, Korea in the 50s, and the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, Marines, and air corps (later the Air Force), Congress amended the 1938 Act in 1954 with the term Veterans instead of Armistice.

Another federal law passed in 1968 established three-day weekends for federal employees for four national holidays on Mondays, including Veterans Day.

Old school patriotism and historic pride returned Veterans Day to its original observance on November 11th, starting in 1978. It continues to be observed on the 11th, regardless of the day of the week. Whether on a Tuesday or Saturday, Veterans Day continues to honor America’s vets for their duty, service, patriotism, and sacrifice for the greater good.

The profile of veterans is ever changing. They are older and less healthy. According to stats from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, around 389,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II were alive in 2019. Almost 300 die each day. Vietnam era veterans likely have a median age greater than 68 years. Memories are fading with each passing, regardless of the military branch or service era.

And what’s the oldest branch of the military, Army or Navy? Try the National Guard, established in 1636 when blacksmiths, farmers and ordinary citizens formed militias to defend the colonies against attacks. This means the Guard’s citizen-soldiers have served as the nation’s first line of defense since before America’s independence and have fought in every major conflict in America’s history.

Citizen-soldiers possess both civilian and military skills to enable the National Guard to conduct a wide array of missions, at home or overseas. Duties and roles may include aviators, engineers, emergency responders, peacekeepers, truck drivers, mechanics, and legal. Guards who deploy face disruption in careers and families for lengthy stints. Both are stark realities.

Thanking a vet is easier said than done. Many are unassuming but likely can be found next door or in the neighborhood. Here’s a tip. Attend a Veterans Day program, hopefully in person and while observing social distancing. Our veterans will be there. The St. Croix Valley thanks them all. Honor all who served.

Halloween Spending: Frightening

SCEDC BLOG

Halloween Spending: Frightening

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

What do the countries of Samoa, Grenada, and Barbados have in common with Halloween? It’s almost certain calendars in these countries mark October 31st without the notation of Halloween. Just another day in paradise for them. Economists meanwhile like to use a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the total value of goods produced and services provided annually, to measure the size of its economy. The more goods produced or services provided, the bigger the economy.

Halloween should be a country. America’s love affair with Halloween spending usually exceeds the gross domestic product of 25-30 counties each year. In 2014, AGFinancial reported Halloween spending in the U.S. exceeded the GDP of 11 counties – combined! That’s a lot of licorice and theatrical make-up.

There are numerous websites and reporting bureaus dedicated to forecasting Halloween spending. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is one of them. NRF says it has conducted an annual Halloween survey for over a decade and sometime between September 1-9 over 7,600 consumers were contacted about 2020 Halloween spending.

The results are frightening, even in a global pandemic. More than 148 million adults plan to participate in Halloween activities, but overall participation is down to 58 percent. House parties, handing out candy, or visits to haunted houses have dropped because of social distancing concerns. An estimated 17 percent of surveyed adults plan virtual celebrations.

Halloween spending in the U.S. will reach $8.05 billion this year. That’s a drop from 2019’s $8.78 billion. Even with participation down, Halloween consumers will spend more this year, estimated by NRF at $92.12 per participant, compared to $86.27 in 2019. That spending has nearly doubled since 2004 when $48.48 was forecast.

What’s Halloween without a little candy? Why stop at the 100-piece bag when there’s a mega-bag on the next shelf? Last year NRF forecast $2.6 billion was spent on candy, or about $25 per person. More will be spent in 2020, and this is not approved by the St. Croix Valley Dental Association, if one exists.

As for candy do’s and don’ts, another website tracks ‘best’ and ‘worst’ Halloween treats. In 2019, Skittles topped the favorite list, followed by Reese’s Cups, M&M’s Snickers, and Starburst. Candy corn (least appreciated), circus peanuts, peanut butter kisses, wax cola bottles, and Necco Wafers were deemed the worst five.

Yes, adults still dress up for Halloween. NRF says the most popular 2020 adult custom will be a witch, followed by vampire, cat, Batman, and ghost. No presidential candidates? Upon further contemplation, costumed candidates may find themselves in personal peril. A COVID grim reaper likely faces the same reaction. Should he/she come knockin’ do not answer.

Halloween is not a Holiday. At worst, Halloween is somewhat of a springboard for even more consumer spending leading up to Holidays in November and December. At best, Halloween is a short escape into another persona. In the St. Croix Valley, we are reminded to be safe and keep others around you safe, too. Have safe fun.

Three Claps For Football

SCEDC BLOG

Three Claps for Football

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

High school football returned to Wisconsin’s St. Croix Valley. Old rivalries renewed. Pep bands, cheer squads, parents and families, boosters, and concessionaires. All are ready. If visiting fans are unsure of the location of the opponent’s playing field, they just look for the distant glow of lights. Pre-game and post-game, students and fans are bound to bring badly-needed business to local restaurants and pubs.

So what does a coach say to the players before a game? Years ago, New Orleans Saints football coach Sean Payton returned to his high school in Naperville, Illinois and delivered this message, set as the backdrop video to Kenny Chesney’s song, The Boys of Fall:

Coach Payton: “Three claps and we’re ready to play tonight (players and coaches respond: clap-clap-clap).
Three claps (clap-clap-clap).
Three claps (clap-clap-clap).
Twenty-seven years ago I sat in this locker room just like you guys, on a knee getting ready to play a game.
I walked down to the locker room, it still smells the same.
It takes you back real quick.
One of the things that caught me was how fast 27 years goes by.
There are so many people who live vicariously through you.
I would give anything tonight to jump into one of these uniforms with you guys.
That feeling goes away.
It goes away, and it doesn’t come every Friday night.
It comes when you get married.
It comes when your child is born.
So you get it, but you just don’t get it every Friday night.
You’re gonna miss that more than anything in the world.
That’s what I miss.
So you seniors, who are focused on college;
You’re focused on your work after high school;
What you’re gonna do next.
You’re focused on tomorrow, aren’t you?
You’ve got plenty of time for tomorrow.
But these tonight’s, they’re going by fast.
You focus on tonight.
This is about you guys.
This is about the guys in this room.
They care about each other.
They know there are only so many of these nights left.
It’s about you.
They’re a faceless opponent.
They just happened to draw the short straw tonight.
Now get your butts ready to play.
‘Win’ on three.
One-two-three.
WIN!”

Here’s to bringing some normalcy to Friday nights in the St. Croix Valley.

The Rivers

SCEDC BLOG

The Rivers

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

An unnamed walker on Hudson, Wisconsin’s old toll road one Saturday morning felt lucky to bump into a face from the past. How early in the morning? The exact time was insignificant, but early enough for it to be darker than it was lighter. Walkers at this hour likely subscribe to beating other walkers and runners who sleep past 6:00 a.m.

The face from the past said he retired several years back. He reminded the unnamed walker that he grew up in Hudson and witnessed many, many changes. The St. Croix River was his to explore, which included running a trapline and having local knowledge of fishing holes, starting as a six-year old. He also mentioned seeing campfires from hobo encampments on sandbars near the pivoting swing bridge upstream from the toll road. The hobos frequented the sandbars and eventually moved on, never doing any real damage. Hop a train from the swing bridge and they were gone. It was their way of life in early Hudson.

Saturday’s chance conversation got the unnamed walker thinking, maybe too much thinking. Thinking first about rivers, and then about Bruce Springsteen . . . and later, about the local treasures – the St. Croix, Apple, Willow, Rush, Eau Galle, and Kinni.

Springsteen’s chorus for his 1980 song The River goes something like, “We’d go down to the river, and into the river we’d dive, Oh, down to the river we’d ride.” Wiki says throughout the song the river is viewed as a symbol for the dreams of the future. The song’s narrator keeps his hopes alive even as they begin to fail. Later the narrator asks, “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse?”

As St. Croix County continues to grow, pristine water resources could be threatened more than ever. Residential growth is comprised of urban dwellers and rural dwellers. City dwellers have access to closed loop municipal water and sewer services. Water comes from deep wells and is treated before a distribution network of buried pipes brings it to homes. Waste water is piped to a facility for processing before it’s discharged as a cleaner, more neutral product. Country dwellers drill private wells for their water source. Waste ends up in a POWTS – private onsite wastewater treatment system.

Too many private wells and POWTS, along with runoff from farm fertilizers, over-manicured suburban lawns, and waste from a thousand head of dairy cattle all named Bessie are bound to present risks or threats. Fortunately, land uses are regulated at the town (township), village, city, or county level. Some local staff may possess credentials as water resource or environmental specialists. Wisconsin has its Department of Natural Resources, too. St. Croix County uses the mantra, Innovation Through Cooperation. It will take a whole lot of both to protect the surface and groundwater resources.

Solutions to ag and dairy waste are emerging. Rolling them out takes innovation and cooperation. The big winners are local residents who deserve clean water. Clean water contributes to greater livability for the region.

If Springsteen’s river is a symbol of dreams for the future, then the St. Croix, Apple, Willow, Rush, Eau Galle, and Kinni are St. Croix’s future. Protecting them and ensuring a better region starts with Innovation Through Cooperation. Just like the changes witnessed by the retired walker, more changes are on the horizon to ensure the vitality of water resources.

Cruel, Cruel COVID Summer

SCEDC BLOG

Cruel, Cruel COVID Summer

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

In 1983, the all-female musical group Bananarama proved to be prophetic when “Cruel Summer” was released. The group did not envision a global pandemic decades later, but 2020 has indeed proven to be a Cruel, Cruel (COVID-19) Summer. The same can be said for last Spring. And likely the upcoming Autumn. And beyond.

The impacts of COVID have been felt in all corners of the Earth. But the impacts start locally and add up, just like a snowball rolling down a hill. Think about a popular bar and grill, main street shop, salon, or micro-brewery. All were shuttered for numerous weeks starting in March. It boiled down to an essential versus nonessential designation for business and industry. Safety first. Cruel, Cruel Summer.

Each community in the St. Croix Valley has one or more celebrations during the year. All or most are cancelled. There goes the parade, royalty coronation, 5K and 10K runs, and street dance, etc. Many of the festivals are governed by a board which puts money back into their communities through donations supporting local nonprofits or special projects. The loss of donations may sting the most. Cruel, Cruel Summer.

In case you think a concession stand’s loss of revenue is no big deal, just consider the really, really big community celebration called the Minnesota State Fair. Sweet Martha’s Cookies is widely regarded as the top vender at the fair with revenue of $4.7 million in 2018. If Martha’s 2019 revenues were up five percent, the sales would be around $5 million. Cruel, Cruel Summer.

In Wisconsin, UW-Madison’s athletic department recently forecast a $60 million revenue loss for 2020-21 and it could grow to $100 million if football is cancelled. Jump Around! That’s a lot of money. Think about the concessionaires, the ticket-takers, the innkeepers, the pre- and post-game gatherings, and the brats ’n beer. All of those lost revenues are outside UW’s forecasts. Cruel, Cruel Summer.

Is there hope? First, play it safe and stay healthy. Then, shop local. Chambers of Commerce are famous for their Chamber Bucks programs. Those bucks can be purchased using cash or checks at the local chamber office. They can be used just like cash at almost any store, assuming it’s a chamber member. They never expire and there are no fees. Local businesses treat the bucks like regular currency. Main Street’s vibrancy may depend on a system like this going forward.

Back to Bananarama. Their Cruel Summer song ended up on the song track to the 1984 movie, Karate Kid, allowing it to reach the Top 10 in Billboard’s Hot 100. Karate Kid is along the lines of “Rocky” for kids. Remember what happened to Ralph Macchio’s character, Daniel? Thanks to the guidance of his mentor Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), Daniel used the crane stance to win the tournament over his bullies. Of course there was a love interest involved, too.

Cruel, Cruel COVID Summer? Not with a crane stance and your support of local businesses, who could really use it. Here’s to a Cool, Cool Summer the rest of the way and beyond.

On This Fourth: Reflection

SCEDC BLOG

On This Fourth: Reflection

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

At a residence in St. Croix County a couple weeks ago, the owner decided it was time to replace a tired old American flag that flies from a pole attached to the garage. The old flag had truly seen better days, and a few more rain showers will work the fold lines out of the new one.

The home owner’s reference to his ratty old flag turned into ragged old flag. He recalled hearing a song with the same title, but from where?

Sure enough, “Ragged Old Flag” was used in a video tribute leading up to Super Bowl LIV’s kickoff this past February. During its airing, Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Kyle Carpenter raised Old Glory to the top of a pole. Corp. Carpenter medically retired from the U.S. Marines in 2013 as a result of significant injuries received in service to his country. He is the youngest living recipient of the Medal of Honor

“Ragged Old Flag” is the title song on an album with the same name released by country singer Johnny Cash in 1974. Watch the Super Bowl LIV tribute at www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPbDZljUsrY. It ends with Corp. Carpenter saying a phrase typically used by presidents at the end of speeches.

On this Fourth of July, carve out some time for reflection – where this country has been, where it is today, and the continued challenges on the road going forward. And reflect upon this, e pluribus unum, Latin for out of many, one.

The United States is a country composed of many beliefs and backgrounds; it’s still a melting pot after all these years, and unified by 50 stars and 13 stripes. “And I believe she can take a whole lot more” as the line in “Ragged Old Flag” points out.

Here’s from 1776 to 2020 and counting.

Got Milk? It’s Wisconsin’s Brand

SCEDC BLOG

Got Milk? It’s Wisconsin’s Brand

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

At 70+ miles per hour, Wisconsin’s welcome signs are but a blur to motorists. The signs are as iconic to Wisconsin as beer, cheese, and the Green Bay Packers. But did you know? They measure 10 feet tall by 11 feet wide and contain three massive logs depicting the pillars of Wisconsin’s economy, Recreation, on the left; Industry, across the top; and Agriculture, on the right. The design is unchanged over the last 50-60+ years, even with the advent of modern branding.

Almost 25 of the signs exist across Wisconsin and most are located at shared borders with Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan or near travel centers for visitors to enjoy, photograph, and post on social media. St. Croix County has three welcome signs – along eastbound I-94 in Hudson, eastbound State Highway 64/35 just across the St. Croix Crossing bridge in the Town of St. Joseph, and at the bottom of the Houlton Hill near the historic Lift Bridge, also in St. Joe. The Houlton sign affords walkers, runners, and bicyclists the opportunity for photo opp’s at a more leisurely pace since the Lift Bridge opened as a recreational amenity.

Wisconsin’s ag agency says agriculture is a big economic driver, contributing almost $105 billion (with a “b”) to the state’s economy. And, there’s more to Wisconsin than milk and cheese. Snap beans, cranberries, ginseng, mink pelts, dry whey, milk goats, and corn silage all rank Number One in the U.S.

June is dairy month. For dairy farmers, so are the other 11 months. It’s an around-the-clock operation, filled with science, technology, and innovation. Wisconsin is home to over 7,000 dairy farms, more than any other state, and 1.28 million cows. That’s over 14 cows for every resident of St. Croix County. Before 600+ varieties and 3.36 billion pounds of cheese can be produced, there’s a four-legged, brown-eyed beauty involved. She’d be a top draft choice in professional sports, based on pedigree alone. This is important when deciding on Asiago, Gorgonzola, aged cheddar, or Gouda at a grocery store.

Despite several tough years, there’s a place for the dairy industry in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Grandpa and grandma and their parents may look back romantically when they talk about a big, 40-head farm. Dairies have gone the way of bigger just like manufacturers or software development businesses.

Challenges are ahead for dairy operators and among them is land and environmental stewardship. Livelihoods depend on it. A Google source says a mature dairy cow weighing 1,400 pounds may generate around 14 gallons of waste per day. Spreading and on-site storage create long-term troubles. A nice size dairy may have 1,200 or 1,400 cows, so a guesstimation on waste can easily be calculated. Enough said. It’s time to address the problem.

Gaining traction around the globe are technologies like anaerobic digesters and biogas digesters and spin-off products like renewable natural gas (RNG). Large systems process dairy waste and convert it to a couple of byproducts, a dry fertilizer and pipeline quality RNG. Dairies, wastewater treatment plants, and landfills are all good sources for capturing RNG. Best of all, greenhouse gas reductions are possible – all from dairies and those brown-eyed beauties.

Going back to the welcome signs, let’s keep agriculture top of mind. St. Croix County’s branding tagline is Innovation Through Cooperation. There’s a role for county government and dairies to find solutions. It will involve innovation and cooperation. Meanwhile, here’s to milk and cheese and ice cream. Make it a double scoop of innovation and cooperation.

Skyward and Forward

SCEDC BLOG

Skyward and Forward

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

For those looking skyward on May 6th, a military transport plane with a fighter jet on either wing flew over several hospitals in the Twin Cities metro area in a salute to the brave healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID pandemic. The mission was called Operation American Resolve and coincided with National Nurses Day. Numerous Air National Guard units across the U.S. also conducted similar tributes at varying times.

Our St. Croix Valley’s contribution to the flyby involved an agreed-upon rendezvous point along County Road UU in the Town of Hudson, referred to as the soccer complex. The flying trio met high above the sprawling patch of green grass and headed west into the Twin Cities. Zoom and gone.

It doesn’t take much to cause eyes to water or throats to suddenly tighten, given the recent state of the world. The flyby was one of those occasions. Memorial Day 2020 may be another.

The modern Memorial Day was previously called Decoration Day. Between backyard barbeques and spring’s unofficial weekend kick-off, it’s a time to remember and honor members of the military who died in the service of their country, the U.S. of A. Mark the calendar for Monday, May 25th. Hopefully there won’t be virtual color guards or 21-gun salutes. Safe distancing practices may allow local ceremonies to go forward. Solemnly, however.

President Ronald Reagan paid tribute to America’s fallen military comrades in his first inaugural address back in 1981. He mentioned “the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers, and . . . their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.”

Fast forward to more modern times. Add Iraq, Iran, Somalia, and Afghanistan to the list.

Most news is still not encouraging. One in five working adults may have lost jobs since mid-March. All units of government are coming to grips with lost revenue, budget cuts, and layoffs. For private business, supply chains are still pressed. Healthcare is stretched.

A prediction: Business, industry, and government will rise to the occasion and the U.S. will lead the global recovery. Better days are ahead.

Here’s to the men and women who died serving the United States. On May 25th, residents of the St. Croix Valley are encouraged to look skyward and forward. Inspiration is there.

Messages in Chalk

SCEDC BLOG

Messages in Chalk

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

April 20, 2020  Walking may be the rediscovered pastime during the COVID pandemic. Some appear tentative at best, as if they’re on a slippery surface. Others cut a brisk pace with expressions of determination. Chances are the new faces seen in subdivisions are unmet neighbors from around the corner and up the street. Along with walkers, COVID messages are popping up on sidewalks, paths, and streets, including:

“April Distance Brings May Existence”

“Life Happens, Coffee Helps”

“Alone Together”

“In This Together”

“Please Help Each Other”

“Happiness is an Inside Job”

“Be Positive, Be Kind”

“Hope Is Not Cancelled”

A Kid’s Version of the U.S. Flag with the message, “USA!” (Old Glory never looked so good)

A Hopscotch Pattern with the message, “Give it a Try!”

A Smiling Sun with the message, “Shine!”

“Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do”

“In This Together – Six Feet Apart”

“Kindness is Contagious”

“The Internet is for Social Distancing”

“Health Care Workers: You Are A-mazing”

Near a Hospital: “Hail to the Front Line”

“Cover Your Face Like You’re Robbing a Bank”

A Smiling Fried Egg: “Keep Your Sunny Side Up”

Regardless of the pace, new faces, or the messages, here’s to a brighter and healthier tomorrow in the St. Croix Valley and beyond.

Good Shines Through

SCEDC BLOG

Good Shines Through

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

March 30, 2020  The coronavirus and COVID-19 were mostly unknown terms as the world ushered in a new decade just a few weeks ago. They are now at the forefront, impacting the world’s health, way of life, and economy.

Throughout the mostly bad news, there are shining examples of good deeds, done by average people, perhaps following the subtle command of the mega-company possessing the distinctive swoosh, “Just Do It.” Some random examples:

New Richmond, Wisconsin’s own 45th Parallel Distillery is producing hand sanitizer for residents and businesses willing to drive to the distillery for the product. Sanitizer was distributed free of charge, but many donated money to offset production costs. Batch #2 is underway. #3 will likely follow. Bring your own container and some loose change or George Washington’s. An Abe Lincoln wouldn’t mind getting tossed in either.

A local restaurateur, hurt by the downturn too, provides gift cards from other local restaurants and bars, as part of take-out orders.

Clinic and hospital staffers are at the forefront of illness and chronic health problems They rush toward their own version of hot zones the same way firefighters attack a burning structure.

A faithful son visits his elderly father every day from the outside of a closed nursing home window, both using cell phones when in-person visits were prohibited.

Nursing homes created their own version of B-I-N-G-O by wheeling residents to door openings in the hallway to play along at safe distances.

St. Paul, Minnesota’s Mac-Groveland neighbors deploy 10-foot chalk circles for personal space during evening exercises. The exercises are known as radio calisthenics, or rajio taiso, and go back to 1928 with the introduction of community- or employer-led exercises in Japan. Some stay in their chalk circles after the workouts just to visit. Neighbors getting to know neighbors! The number of participants now extends beyond a small neighborhood. Keep it going!

In Drayton, North Dakota, the community held a drive-by celebration past a 7-year old’s front yard when his birthday party was cancelled. The drive-by was led by a couple of wailing fire trucks, then classmates, then neighbors. Drayton’s population holds steady at around 850 very neighborly residents.

Kyle Rudolph, a tight end with the Minnesota Vikings, who sports jersey #82, pledged a donation of 82,000 meals to those in need. Ha! A marauding Viking with a heart. Other pro athletes representing other sports set-up funds for laid-off arena workers.

Retail associates, full- and part-time, restock shelves as fast as truckloads come in, and others operate cash registers with lines that seem too long for a typical Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday morning, afternoon, or evening. One part-time grocery store associate said, “Today I unloaded two pallets of yogurt taller than me. And many shoppers thanked us for doing our part.”

Modern day Rube Goldberg’s employ high-tech 3D printers to create N95 safety masks for healthcare workers; others converted their production lines to manufacture face shields and other high demand products. Meanwhile, as the call went out for donated N95 masks, many, many painting contractors, general contractors, and manufacturers jumped in.

As taprooms closed, micro-brewery owners worked together on new distribution channels and creative ways for pick-up orders in their parking lots.

Examples go on and continue to grow. Next time you see someone on the frontline, offer them encouragement and a big thank-you. They’ve earned it. Mightily.

The Week That Was

SCEDC BLOG

The Week That Was

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

A year’s worth of news was packed into the week of March 8-14. Microscopic virus. Bull Market. Bear Market. Market correction. Circuit breaker stock trading stoppages. Federal Reserve rate cuts. Big Oil. Falling Oil. Peacetime state of emergency declaration. National state of emergency. Panic buying. Empty store shelves. School closings. Epidemic. Pandemic. No March Madness (March Sadness). Limitations on social gatherings. No St. Paddy’s Day revelry ahead of the real festivities on March 17th.

Even with the gloom and doom, signs do not point to a cataclysmic event. A New Normal perhaps, but not The End as most know it. There are rays of hope. Robins, Wisconsin’s state bird, were observed on March 2nd, well ahead of their usual sighting date. While they looked bewildered, they’re here. They must know something. The sun is gaining strength and soon the concrete snowbanks in boulevards will disappear. Snow melt leads to ‘ice out’ on rivers and lakes, which leads to ‘the opener’ for fishing. Kids are out on bikes. Baseballs and even a few out-of-season footballs are being tossed around. One metro golf course is open (Fore!).

New phrases are part of the New Normal. Case in point, social distancing. It’s another way of defining personal space. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defined social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately six feet) from others when possible.” Try that at a commercial airport or with mass transit. One wise guy suggested using hula-hoops. Midwesterners have observed social distancing for centuries. They not only enjoy their space, they protect it.

Will distance learning delivery for education become part of the New Normal? Let’s hope not. As schools, colleges, and universities transition to interim on-line instruction, pitfalls remain. Online instruction has not lived up to expectations. The quality of instruction is a concern, along with connectivity access to high speed internet and lack of instructor-student interactions.

A traditional handshake will likely be replaced under the New Normal. Wisconsin’s Department of Health offered some alternatives, starting with a friendly wave, and as needed, the elbow bump. Another wise guy suggested stomp, stomp, clap as a cryptic shout-out to Queen and ‘We Will Rock You’.

For those old enough to remember, the music group R.E.M. released a hit entitled, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” back in 1987. It covered a stream of conscious collapse of the world, starting with earthquakes, the environment, and Cold War. Thirty-three years later, the song is getting more listens, thanks mostly to a microscopic virus.

Someday, a couple of supercomputers will calculate the economic impact of today’s global affairs. It will be a big number, a really big number. Until then, common sense prevails. As residents are out and resuming whatever is normal again, keep the stomp, stomp, clap in mind. It may catch on.

Size Matters

SCEDC BLOG

2020 Census – Size Matters

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

With little fanfare, the 2020 census got underway on January 21st in a tiny community along the Bering Sea called Toksook Bay, Alaska. It is so remote that the census bureau director from Washington, D.C. was late to his own ceremonial kick-off event. Lizzie Chimiugak Nenguryarr, a 90-year old elder in Toksook Bay, was the first person counted, leading up to the estimated 334 million people across America participating in the census.

The decennial census is coming to a town, village, city, urban, or rural area near you, too. Mark a calendar – April 1st is National Census Day. No word on school and government closings, however.

The data collected from the census helps the federal government determine financial resources distributed to communities for roads, highways, schools, and hospitals. Can you say $675 billion in federal dollars annually? Developers can use the census information to make investment decisions. Local governments will use the data for planning and public safety. An average citizen will use it for quality of life initiatives or research leading to new or amended ordinances.

The origin of a national census is found in the U.S. Constitution. Our nation’s founders devised a creative plan to empower people over their new government (Wait. What?). The plan was to count every person in the U.S. and use the information to determine representation in the fledgling Congress. The goal was first accomplished in 1790 and has continued every 10 years.

Today, there are 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. From the 2020 census, some states will gain representation and others will lose. Take California for example (it’s yours, take it). Even with its large population base, a congressional seat may be lost in California. Minnesota is in jeopardy of losing a seat, too. West Virginia may lose two seats and Texas could gain two. As many as seventeen state dominoes could fall – some tipping forward; some falling behind.

The Census Bureau has a December 31st deadline to deliver findings to the sitting president. This marks the beginning of congressional reapportionment, which goes into effect for the 2022 mid-term elections. The data used for state and local redistricting will be available on March 31, 2021.

An undercount of people is always a reality. The Census Bureau will spend $500 million on a public education and outreach campaign with more than 1,000 ads to reach 99 percent of U.S. households. A tagline, “Shape your Future. Start here” was created to bolster awareness and participation. Videos in 59 non-English languages are available to explain how to fill out the forms. Languages range from Thai to Tamil and from Italian to Hindi. In short, the Census Bureau wants everyone counted.

Back to Toksook Bay and Lizzie the elder. The census from ten years ago estimated Toksook Bay’s population at 590 people. By 2017 the estimate was 661. Toksook Bay is not only holding its own, it is growing. To encourage participation from Alaska’s indigenous groups, the 2020 questionnaires were translated into the Yup’ik language. Elder Lizzie appreciated that. The 2030 census is just around the corner for Lizzie.

Here’s to being counted in the weeks ahead. Shape your Future. Start here.

Name on the Front of the Jersey

SCEDC BLOG

 

Name on the Front of the Jersey

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Memories fade, but calendars do not lie. It’s been 40-years since the U.S. men’s hockey team defeated the Russian team to claim the gold medals during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. The victory is forever known as the Miracle on Ice.

Correction. The U.S. team did beat the Soviets, but didn’t claim gold until a victory over Finland two days later. That’s the faded memory part. A lesser known fact is this – a loss to the Finns meant the U.S. would not earn any medals – gold, silver, or bronze. And worse, the Russians would claim the gold.

The chief architect and strategist of the U.S. team was its coach, Herb Brooks. He was the last player cut from the 1960 U.S. team, which won the gold that year. Then along came a run from the Russians, winning gold in 1964, ‘68, ‘72, and ‘76. They were heavy favorites in ’80. It was Brooks’ job to stop the run. Or at least put up a good showing. Case in point – the Russians trounced the U.S. team in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden 10-3 just before the Lake Placid games.

The young men playing for Brooks in 1980 were a collection of college all stars from across the U.S. They came from places like Rochester, Minnesota (Eric Strobel), Davison, Michigan (Ken Morrow), Easton, Massachusetts (Jim Craig), and Madison, Wisconsin (Mark Johnson). How do you get All Americans and team captains hailing from several time zones to play as a team? Coach Brooks had some ideas.

Brooks worked his players hard in the months leading up to Lake Placid. After one uninspired exhibition game, Brooks reportedly saw enough lackluster play. The players thought they were headed to the locker room, but Brooks kept them on the ice and were lined up at the goal line. It was time for wind sprints on ice, meaning a coach reverts to extra conditioning to make a point. At the whistle, the players skated to the first blue line, stopped with ice showers, and returned to the goal line. Then they skated to the red line at center ice, stopped, and retreated to the goal line. Next up was the far blue line, and back to the starting point. And finally, they skated from one goal line to the other and back to complete the drill. Brooks had his assistant coach blow a whistle to mark the start of another wind sprint on ice. And another. And another. And another.

Sometime later, Hollywood lore shows a darkened arena, but the sprints continued. Brooks may have said something along the lines, “If you want to make this team you’re going to have to start playing at a level that will force me to keep you. This cannot be a team of common men because common men don’t know work. You have to be uncommon men. When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates, and the name on the front is a lot more important than the one on the back (expletives deleted throughout).”

At the start of yet another sprint, Mike Eruzione, the eventual team caption, blurted out his name and hometown of Winthrop, Massachusetts. Brooks asked, “Who do you play for?” Eruzione replied, “I play for the United States of America.” And Brooks announced, “That’s all gentlemen.” The wind sprints were done.

Perhaps a turning point for the ’80 team? Brooks’ message about the front of the jersey was clear. It’s a good reminder in everyday life, whether it’s business, industry, public or private.

It never gets old watching the seconds count down from 40-years ago. Play as a team and big things can happen. Watch the last minute of the game here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gfD134ED54. You’ll see Coach Brooks exiting the bench for the bowels of the arena to reflect on this mega-accomplishment in private. Do you still believe in miracles? YES!

Life Lesson: I Got This

SCEDC BLOG

Life Lesson: “I Got This”

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

About a year ago, most of the world was introduced to Amy Bockerstette. Some were lucky enough to know her before a magical moment on a golf course. As part of a pre-tournament practice round, she played the so-called loudest hole in golf, the par-3 16th hole at the TPC Scottsdale course with Gary Woodland, the previous year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open champion. The golf world and people with disabilities may never be the same.

The 16th hole is famous for many reasons. It’s the PGA Tour’s only fully-enclosed hole, meaning grandstand seats and skyboxes surround the entire hole, earning it the nickname, The Coliseum. Players-gladiators enter from a curtained walkway under the grandstands from the 15th green. As the Phoenix Open gets into full swing on the weekend, the 20,000 spectators in The Coliseum judge each tee shot with lusty boos or wild cheers.

Back to Amy. She’s a Special Olympics golfer with Down syndrome. Last January, the PGA surprised her with an invitation to play the 16th with Woodland. With no warm-up, Amy’s tee shot found a sand trap hazard. Woodland offered to hit her next shot, but Amy replied, “I got this.” Her bunker shot found the green and rolled toward the hole before stopping. The crowd, now engaged in what was unfolding, cheered their approval. Amy faced a 10-foot putt to save par. “I got this,” she told Woodland and others in the group. She drained the putt and the crowd roared. The video from tee to putt went viral and has been viewed over 40 million times. Amy and Gary became friends and stayed connected through social media.

Fast forward to the U.S. Open in June at Pebble Beach. Woodland was the 54-hole leader and likely faced a night of restlessness before Sunday’s final round. Amy tweeted him a reassuring message, “You got this.” At a critical time on the back nine, Woodland converted a birdie putt and went on to claim the championship. It was his first major golf championship. Addressing the media, he said “Amy told me a million times when we were on that hole… ‘I’ve got this,’ and I told myself that a million times today, ‘I’ve got this.’” He added, “She’s meant everything for me from a mental standpoint. The world needs more of her in it.”

More on Amy. Before her swings with Woodland, she participated in two Arizona girls state high school golf championships and earned a scholarship to play golf at a community college. There was a graduation speech, too. She balances college with a part-time job. The ‘I Got This’ Foundation was launched and provides golf instruction and playing opportunities to individuals with intellectual disabilities. Special order golf balls bear the message, I Got This. She’s in demand for celebrity appearances. Go Amy Go.

What’s learned. In an interview with Golf World magazine, sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella said, “I have worked with children with Down syndrome for several years, and I would say in general they are the happiest, most positive, upbeat human beings on this planet.” Amy’s father Joe added, “She’s not burdened with self-doubt.” Her golf instructor said, “She continues to teach me not to sweat the small stuff.”

Another take-away concerns employment opportunities for individuals with barriers and disabilities. They bring something new to employers, including productivity, staff morale, work ethic, and dedication. Locally, there’s Rise (www.rise.org), a private organization supporting individuals who have disabilities and other barriers obtain vocational achievement, self-sufficiency, and belonging in their communities. Rise has a training and in-house production facility as close as New Richmond, Wisconsin. Work can be brought to New Richmond or Rise can bring associates to on-site locations.

BRIDGE For Community Life (www.bridgecl.org) is another option. BRIDGE provides opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities as they transition into adulthood. They bring a holistic approach to life – – that a balance of life skills development, continued learning, recreation, and leisure leads to healthy minds and bodies. Among their offerings are community employment services, including job placement assistance, job coaching, and follow-up services.

St. Croix Valley employers may be well served to consider these valuable resources.

Going forward, repeat: I got this. You got this. Go Amy Go. The world needs more of you in it, including business and industry.

New Year Ideals Include An Underdog

SCEDC BLOG

New Year Ideals Include An Underdog

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Following the turkey and football and Cyber Monday and office parties and gift wrapping, the march to the end of the year begins. Hello 2020. And those New Year Resolutions? Oh My.

Coming up empty on a resolution? Try this one: Cheer for an underdog. It’s part of a credo developed by Kent Keith in 1968 as a 19-year old sophomore at Harvard. In his home state of Hawaii, Keith took a liking to student government and became interested in the challenges of leadership. With no ‘How To’ books to rely on, he established an institute to better prepare student leaders.

At Harvard, Keith became a popular speaker on student leadership in high schools. History suggests idealistic students and the turbulent 1960s were traveling on opposing courses. Keith stressed working through the system to impact change. Many others wanted the so-called system overthrown. Keith’s way of thinking stressed doing what is right, good, and pure. Young leaders would find their sense of meaning and satisfaction if they followed that course, according to Keith.

From all of this, Keith developed The Paradoxical Commandments. Fifty plus years later, they still have meaning. Those Commandments received a copyright, and the wording may have changed ever so slightly, but go something like this:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men (and women) with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men (and women) with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Thank you, Dr. Kent M. Keith, Ed.D.

For 2020, here’s to doing good, succeeding, honesty and frankness, thinking big, and one or more underdogs.

Make an Impact: Shop Small

SCEDC BLOG

Make an Impact: Shop Small

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

In 2010, financial services giant American Express launched a promotion aimed at small business vitality along Main Streets, U.S.A.

It’s called Small Business Saturday® (SBS) and occurs on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, meaning it’s sandwiched between mega-shopping events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. SBS encourages consumers to ‘shop small’ in their respective home towns. More times than not, shopping locally means shopping at family-owned businesses. Even nationally-branded shops are likely operated by a local franchise holder, who could be a neighbor, volunteer coach, and planning commission member all rolled into one.

Small adds up. American Express says local spending on SBS has reached a reported $103 billion from those nine designated days from 2010-2018. Another study says for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., around 67 cents stays in the local community. This equates to wages, taxes, chamber memberships, and donations to just about every worthy cause.

Little events get big attention. In 2011, the U.S. Senate put gridlock aside and unanimously passed a resolution of support for SBS. Community boosters in all fifty states are on-board with unique SBS promotions. On several occasions, President Obama took his daughters shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. He even offered a shout-out to SBS supporters, “From the mom-and-pop storefront shops that anchor Main Street to the high-tech start-ups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our Nation’s promise. These businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America, helping spur economic development in communities across our country and giving millions of families and individuals the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Through events such as Small Business Saturday, we keep our local economies strong and help maintain an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century.”

From framed artwork to artisan jewelry and from hearty soups, burgers, and brews, all can be found in central business districts in the St. Croix Valley. Let’s shop them on November 30th. Better yet, let’s shop them year ‘round.

College Student Overcomes Donut Barrier

SCEDC BLOG

College Student Overcomes Donut Barrier

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Entrepreneurship is a tangled road filled with barriers as college student Jayson Gonzalez recently discovered. In a classic Little Guy versus Big Corporation, Gonzalez found himself crossways with the donut-maker, Krispy Kreme.

Jayson is a 21-year college student at Metro State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. College and financial struggles seem to go hand in hand. His goal is to graduate from Metro State debt free. But how?

If necessity is the mother of all inventions, then it’s a sweet tooth in Jayson’s case. Gonzalez developed a loyal customer base for Krispy Kreme donuts, which had closed its retail outlets in Minnesota 10+ years ago. The masses were willing to pay a premium for the donuts, so Jayson made weekly road trips to a suburban Ankey, Iowa Krispy Kreme shop and bought them in bulk. He did not receive a discount on his purchases and his 2008 Ford Focus carried as many as 100 boxes of the sweet delights. At a dozen donuts per box, Jayson the Entrepreneur crossed the Iowa-Minnesota state line in the name of commerce surrounded by 1,200 donuts.

Just like Business Planning 101, Jayson had expenses that included gas and food. They were offset by donut sales, said to range from $17 to $20 a box. Several news outlets reported a few customers paid almost $100 or over eight dollars per donut. They liked the donuts but loved helping a college student even more. To finish the Business Plan, Income less Expenses Equals Gross Profit. Debt free college appeared to be in reach. Go Jayson Go.

Oh, Oh. News coverage about Enterprising Jayson resulted in a fateful call from a Krispy Kreme regional office. He was told the bulk sale and transport of the donuts created a liability for the company. The terms ‘cease’ and ‘desist’ likely came up in the conversation. Rather than fight it, Gonzalez was said to be looking into new ways to pay for college. In short, the entrepreneurial spirit is an enduring one.

But wait, this story has a happy ending. The corporate-types at Krispy Kreme and Mr. Gonzalez recently announced a partnership to allow for the weekly trips to the Iowa store. Jayson will be become an independent contractor for Krispy Kreme. The corporate-types wanted to ensure their donuts maintained so-called high product quality standards as well as consistent delivery to Jayson’s customers in Minnesota. Sweeter yet, Krispy Kreme will donate 500 dozen donuts to Jayson as he jumps back in to the road trips. That’s 6,000 donuts!

The Little Guy and Big Corporation both come out as winners. Jayson keeps his debt-free college dream alive while Krispy Kreme gained an independent contractor and did not have to fight a public relations battle.

Maybe there’s a St. Croix Valley donut outlet in Jayson’s future? Let’s hope so. Here’s to a rising entrepreneur named Jayson Gonzalez.

Farming’s New Anthem: She-I-O

SCEDC BLOG

Farming’s New Anthem: She-I-O

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

As nursery rhymes go, Old MacDonald Had a Farm is one of the newer ones, going back to around 1917. The opening lines put agriculture in perspective back in the day, “Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O; And on his farm he had a cow, E-I-E-I-O . . . .” Fast forward to today and the numbers show the average farmer in the U.S. is white, male, and nearly 60-years old, according to 2017’s Census of Agriculture, released every five years. They say farming gets in one’s blood and there’s no leaving. A farmer in his mid- to late 70s may ask, “What does that 58-year old kid up the road know about farming?”

The Ag Census had a big surprise. While women have been a big part of agriculture and farming for centuries, it was mostly behind-the-scenes. The census shows the number of female farmers in the U.S. has tripled in the last 30-years. Female ranchers and farmers increased almost 27% from 2012 to 2017, to around 1.23 million. Women now represent 36% of all farmers. Many are directly involved in making day-to-day decisions, as well as record-keeping and financial management.

Agriculture runs deep in the St. Croix Valley, from dairies to beef cattle, corn, beans, and maybe the latest cash crop, hemp. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at UW-River Falls (River Falls, WI) consistently ranks as one of the top undergraduate ag programs in the nation. The previous state ag secretary was from the valley and is female. Her brother also served as ag secretary.

All of this brings us to Land O’ Lakes (LOL), a farmer-owned cooperative based in Arden Hills, Minnesota. It is led by a trailblazing CEO, Beth Ford. Just over a year ago, LOL’s dairy foods sector rolled out a new branding campaign, called All Together Better. The company teamed up with country singer Maggie Rose and songwriter Liz Rose to create a rework of Old MacDonald. Called She-I-O, the song and video help illustrate the changing face of agriculture. LOL donated $1 to project partner Feeding America for every She-I-O share, tag, or comment on its social media channels. The $100,000 goal was reached a month early.

The She-I-O video is still available for viewing, using key search words Maggie Rose, She-I-O and women farmers. Enjoy the lyrics. Ladies, sing it loud. Sing it proud:

Sun comes up, she’s out of bed
Whole world swimmin’ in her head
Now you can’t tell her she can’t do it all
She’s five-foot-two and ten feet tall
She had a dream
It made her strong
Works as hard as her days are long
And Old MacDonald had a daughter, She-I-E-I-O

Look what she does with what he taught her, She-I-E-I-O
She’s got the future in her hands
Proud her roots are where she stands
Working on a greater plan
Showing us all if she can do it
WE can
She makes the most of her strong arms
She feeds the babies and runs the farm
She’s moving mountains and catching stars
She’s every woman and every heart
SHE (SHE) I (I) SHE I SHE I SHE-I-E-I-OH

Can’t hold her back
With what she’s not
She uses everything she’s got
And on her farm her family grows
She shows her kids everything she knows
So when she’s older herself someday
They’ll make her proud and know the way
She’s the future of the world (SHE-I-E-I-O)
Don’t ever say she’s just a girl (SHE-I-E-I-O)
We’ve come along and we’re taking it farther (SHE-I-E-I-O)
With today’s new old MacDonald farmer
SHE-I-E-I-OH!

Young Trio Provide Inspiration, Hope

SCEDC BLOG

Young Trio Provide Inspiration, Hope

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

A bold claim suggests America’s youth has never had so many opportunities. An expanded claim says the same for the youth around the globe. Opportunities run the gamut, from technology to education, and from mobility to part- and full-time jobs. Our youth may be living in the best of times.

There’s a suspicion that opportunities are squandered; youth is wasted on the young. The term entitlement comes to mind. A $1.60 minimum wage job tackling a mountain of dirty dishes long ago has transitioned to very similar jobs at $10 or $12 an hour that go unfilled. Party-line telephone service yielded to the latest and greatest cell phones. Who walks or rides a bike when a gently-used commuter SUV sits in the driveway? Maybe it’s generational; moms and dads proclaim their very own children enjoy a softer life than they had.

Just when hope appears lost, three inspiring stories involving our youth and young adults emerge. Yes, there’s a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a beacon from an oncoming freight train.

Meet Kade Lovell, a nine-year old runner. He entered a recent five kilometer (5K) race and somewhere on the course made a wrong turn. Perhaps leading the pack, young Kade had no one to follow. He did not stop. He did not turn around. He did not search for a map on Google. He kept going. Kade won the 10K race even though he signed up for the shorter distance. His pace was a very respectable 7:45 over 6.2 miles. Here’s to Kade.

Meet Casey O’Brien, a typical college student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Oh, Casey is a non-scholarship member of the (Fighting) Golden Gophers football squad. He says he’s third on the depth chart as a holder for extra-point kicks. Oh, Casey is a four-time cancer survivor. For those having six spare minutes, ESPN recently profiled a courageous Casey O’Brien. Keep a hankie handy. More recently, he was nominated for the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Casey jokes about getting on the field for just one extra point attempt. The current holder said they may be working on a secret plan to pull this off. It involves the first two holders suddenly misplacing their helmets, opening the door for Casey. Here’s to Casey. Please, please execute that not-so-secret plan.

Meet Carson King, another typical (or atypical) college student. Before the Iowa-Iowa State football game a few weeks ago, Carson held up a placard to a national audience. The nearly broke college student asked for a little beer money. He figured someone would bite. They did. A few hundred dollars became a few thousand. Corporate sponsors jumped in. As the monetary snowball rolled down the hill, Carson found himself at the center of a national spotlight. He announced he’d keep the first two thousand dollars and donate the rest to charity. At last count the fund was at $1.1 million and still climbing. Oh, Carson got a year’s supply of his favorite beer from a national brewer, too. Here’s to Carson.

Those dang kids and young adults. There is hope. There is inspiration. Go forward Kade, Casey, and Carson. Do bigger and better things. And, upon further reflection, there are plenty of good, normal kids who are not doing remarkable things, but are fine young people just the same. Keep going.

A New Tapestry

SCEDC BLOG

A New Tapestry

BY BILL RUBIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

According to Wiki, the word tapestry is Old French used as a noun to refer to textile fabrics formed by weaving colored threads to create pictures or designs. Sometimes tapestries were used to portray a series of events or stories. A more modern use of the term links it to cultures, races, and customs, along the lines of ‘the world is a tapestry of individual uniqueness all woven together’.

That descriptor gets us to a mapping and data analytics company called Esri. The company’s tagline is the science of where. Software is a powerful tool. Esri uses geographic information system (GIS) mapping to help their subscribers see what others can’t. This includes spatial analysis, mapping and visualization, 3D GIS, real time GIS, imagery and remote sensing and data management.

Where’s this going? Esri launched its own version of woven threads to tell stories, called Tapestry Segmentation, to better understand customers’ lifestyle choices, what they buy, and how they spend their free time. Esri’s Tapestry service gives its users the insights to help identify the best customers, optimal sites, and underserved markets, leading to higher response rates, avoiding less profitable areas, and investing resources more wisely. As Esri proclaims, Tapestry Segmentation is the Fabric of America’s Neighborhoods.

And now the fun part. Esri uses 14 LifeModes to describe America’s Neighborhoods. They range from Affluent Estates to Cozy Country Living, and from Middle Ground to MidTown Singles. Each LifeModes has numerous subsets. The Family Landscapes LifeMode includes a subset called Soccer Moms and the Rustic Outposts LifeMode includes Diners & Miners.

And now for the really fun and intriguing part. Esri gives online browsers the ability to search communities and neighborhoods free of charge to learn a tapestry’s local story. The zip code 54016 for Hudson, Wisconsin shows 26.4% are Soccer Moms, 22.4% are Bright Young Professionals, and 15.2% are Savvy Suburbanites, all with detailed summaries. New Richmond’s 54017 zip yields Middleburg, Rustbelt Traditions, and Old and Newcomers as the subsets. Results for Baldwin are Middleburg, Rustbelt Traditions, and Green Acres. Are these communities, all within close proximity, close reflections of the descriptors? If there’s a zip code, Esri has it covered with a Tapestry Segmentation. Even the Goliath-like Twin Cities directly west of St. Croix County, Wisconsin is carved up into market segments.

Use this link for a test drive of favorite neighborhoods and zips, www.esri.com/en-us/arcgis/products/tapestry-segmentation/zip-lookup. Enter a zip code and select a couple of fields like population density, median age, or graduate and professional degrees to get started. Half the fun is reading the subsets. At another link, Esri has all the communities and neighbors in America mapped, and as they download, it’s easy to see why their program includes the Tapestry name. Give the two-page download a look here https://www.esri.com/library/brochures/tapestry-segmentation.pdf.

Ersi’s GIS tool is compelling technology. The consumer spending of Soccer Moms is far different than, say, Green Acres. For prospective investors contemplating new market areas, the results help predict the best locations and a better bottom line. It’s proof once again there’s an exacting science behind most capital investment decisions.