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Planet Coffee

Coffee has ushered in a new era of consumer spending, whether it’s in pursuit of fresh-roasted beans, flavored grounds, bigger and bigger mugs, brick and mortar stores, or main street diners serving the finest selections from Ecuador or Costa Rica.

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Celebrating Small Businesses

John F. Kennedy started a tradition in 1963 as the first U.S. President to designate a National Small Business Week. Fifty-five years later, the proclamations continue as a way to recognize the important contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners.

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Play Ball: Hope Springs Eternal

Even with a winter that won’t go quietly away, baseball and other spring sports are now underway. Sort of. Young men find places indoors to hit baseballs into nets or off tees. On those dreary days of thirty degree temperatures and a steady rain, a baseball game may still be contested. Even avid fishermen(women) would likely have packed it in for another day.

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Serious Spending

Tracking spending habits is likely neither an art nor a science. For decades, retailers have relied on pricey market research from advisors before decisions are made to invest in a particular community or region. Advisors help answer questions about the ability of consumers to support a new store or the latest franchised restaurant. One part art; one part science.

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Thinkers, Makers, Doers

To outsiders, the perception of Wisconsin may still include beer, brats, cheese, Packers, Badgers, cold winters, and dairies. Community boosters add technology, innovation, advanced manufacturing, and entrepreneurial spirit to their lists.

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American Pie

Whether it’s East L.A. or East Overshoe, there may be occasional coffee shop chatter that your community is on the brink. First, don’t believe it. And second, find inspiration in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Population Gains. And Pains

Last fall, the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) finalized population estimates for local units of government, as of January 1, 2017. The DOA says St. Croix County grew by 4.13 percent since the 2010 Census and added 3,483 new residents.

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New Year’s Resolution: Better Nutrition

A New Year is filled with well-intended resolutions. Health clubs are packed with new members, but by February or March, many give up, falling to what a misguided economist may call the Law of Diminishing Resolution.

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For the Sake of Old Times

A Scotsman named Robert Burns is credited with authoring a poem in the 1780s that many still use to bid farewell to an old year as a new one is welcomed. The poem (now folk song) is called Auld Lang Syne. With cocktail glasses and beer mugs hoisted high, more than one person may have tripped over the words in a moment of revelry.

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Cracking the Code

Young adults, say 15-years of age and older, are a curious group. Some fail to see big opportunities ahead, especially given the shrinking workforce. Opportunities are abundant. Mark Twain may have framed it best when he wrote, “Youth is wasted on the young.” There are exceptions to this, and over-achievers earn their place in a special category.

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The Wiz

A guy around the St. Croix Valley sports a zip-up UCLA sweatshirt, also called a hoodie if you’re part of the younger generation. He claims it belonged to Bill Walton, a former UCLA player who measured six feet, eleven inches during his basketball days.

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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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