Edina doctor returns from ravaged Puerto Rico

EDINA, Minn. —- Dr. Miguel Fiol might be back at his home in Edina, but his heart is still in his native Puerto Rico.

The neurologist and University of Minnesota faculty member was vacationing in San Juan, where he has an apartment of his own. Even though he had the choice of flying back to the Twin Cities, he decided to ride out Hurricane Maria with family members so that he could be a part of the recovery efforts.

"It was like a bomb went off in Puerto Rico. That was my impression," said Dr. Fiol, describing the devastation.

Dr. Fiol volunteered at an emergency shelter in San Juan’s convention center, which housed hundreds of evacuees.

"You constantly saw people with stress reactions, anxiety attacks. diabetes that was out of control, people with wounds that were not healing. There were no antibiotics. We had no antibiotics to give them," said Dr. Fiol.

Because the island’s electric grid was practically destroyed, critical medical equipment like ventilators were not working.

Dr. Fiol is concerned that Puerto Rico is on the brink of a medical crisis.

Because there is a shortage of clean water and areas filled with standing water, Dr. Fiol fears that millions could be vulnerable to waterborne diseases.

"My concern is an epidemic because there’s just no resources," said Dr. Fiol. "The health infrastructure is stretched to the limit."

For now, Dr. Fiol is teaming up with Puerto Rican medical students at the University of Minnesota to raise awareness, collect donations and ask Minnesota companies to donate much-needed drugs and medical equipment.

"I think the emphasis right now as Puerto Ricans is to restore [Puerto Rico] and to provide the help that people need to live. It’s a live or die situation," said Dr. Fiol.

If you wish to donate, Dr. Fiol encourages Minnesotans donate to organizations on the ground like United For Puerto Rico.

In addition, the St. Paul Foundation has set up a fund named El Fondo Boricua that aims to assist victims of Hurricane Maria.

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With the EPA AWOL, Minnesota cities prepare for climate change alone

Duluth’s 2012 flooding at least helped teach the city what it wasn’t prepared for.

Associated Press

With global temperatures rising and federal action evaporating, Minnesota cities are taking it upon themselves to cut emissions and prepare for a climate they weren’t built for.

Across the state, cities are readying themselves for the dangers of climate change and working to shrink their carbon footprints. But making a city more resilient is costly, and efforts to reduce emissions can seem paltry compared to the scale of the problem they’re trying to solve.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of rainfall in Minnesota, bringing with it a greater risk of flash flooding that threatens cities whose current infrastructure has never weathered a 100- or 500-year flood. Since 2000, the state has had eight “mega-rain events,” when at least six inches of rain fell in an area greater than 1,000 square miles, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There were only three in the 30 years between 1970 and 1999. The eight since 2000 included the largest, earliest and latest mega-rain events on record — in keeping with the longer, more severe rainy season climate scientists expect to become the new normal.

One of those mega-rains led to the catastrophic 2012 Duluth flood, which served as a Hurricane Katrina-like wakeup call for a city built on rocky sediments and permeated by 43 creeks and streams. After getting deluged with seven-plus inches of rain in two days, floodwaters turned roads into rapids and ruined infrastructure, inundating neighborhoods and causing well over $100 million worth of damage. The scale of the destruction was unprecedented. City officials realized unless they started making major changes, they’d risk being swept away.

Climatologist are hesitant to attribute any one storm, like the one that swamped Duluth, to long-term climate change. But, what they’re sure of is that this century, cities will see bigger storms more often.

In repairing the damage, Duluth factored in climate change’s flood-inducing effects. Duluth mayor Emily Larson (elected 2015) says the city has stopped building in floodplains, and started enforcing stricter building standards, especially for bridges and culverts. The city is also investing in shoring up existing housing stock, rather than building outward, which would only serve to cover porous, water-absorbing land with concrete.

The extensive flooding Hurricane Harvey caused in Houston last year was made far worse by the sprawl of concrete and other impermeable surfaces in that city.

However, Duluth’s changes made since the 2012 offer a piecemeal approach to an existential threat.

“Our built environment was built for the climate of the 1950s and 60s,” said Larson. “Our built environment was not built for this.”

The prospect of more intense rainstorms has made storm water management a top priority in Edina, which has learned to be nimble to in preparing for floods in a suburb that’s been almost completely built out over the decades.

“We’ve got parts of town that are in the floodplain that were never in the floodplain before,” said Edina mayor Jim Hovland. “We’re steadfast in trying to figure out some solutions.”

One of those solutions is to repurpose land to help absorb flood water. Edina’s Fred Richards Gold Course closed in 2014, and last July, the city council approved a master plan for a new park on the land that includes a “nature bank,” a restored wetland that stores water and makes the area more resilient to flooding.

“Citizens in our town have a keen interest in a safe and protected environment,” says Hovland.

Adapting to climate change is a pricey proposition. Duluth’s recovery was helped along by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds, and Edina is a relatively populous and economically secure suburb. Smaller, less wealthy towns are struggling to find funds for proactive measures.

The city of Carver on the bank of the Minnesota River is also trying to prepare for the next big rainstorm. Carver Mayor Mike Webb says concern for residents in his town increased after a flood damaged the city’s levy two years ago. But the price tag associated with improving the levy has proven too steep. Webb said he’d like to get the levy certified by FEMA — which would require rebuilding most of it — but the funds just aren’t there for a small exurb of 4,600 people. Even the initial $350,000 feasibility study is prohibitively expensive.

“We don’t have the funding to fix our levy,” said Webb. “All we can afford is the bandage every year.”

Funding for infrastructure to make communities — especially smaller ones — better prepared will be a major issue going forward, according to Laura Millberg, a sustainable development planner for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

“These places do not have the tax bases to adapt,” Millberg says. “The challenge is for our state government to help our local government.”

The state is offering to help local governments through the GreenStep Cities program, which Millburg serves on as a best practices advisor. Since its creation in 2010, the non-regulatory program has advised cities on becoming more sustainable, giving cities a toolbox of methods to increase their resilience and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

For Edina, that meant first developing a greenhouse gas inventory to account for all the city’s emissions, and then an electricity action plan laying out how to reduce its output.

“Our residents really want us to be environmentally conscious,” says Hovland. “It’s on the top of the list.”

The City of Falcon Heights was a pilot city for the GreenStep program. Sandwiched between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Falcon Heights is home to the Minnesota State Fair Grounds and parts of the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus, both of which draw people from all over the state to the tiny municipality of 5,500. Mayor Peter Lindstrom says addressing climate change is a top priority, and he wants the city to be a model for what willing local governments can do.

“Climate change is the number one issue that we are facing today,” said Lindstrom. “We needed to take action on this years ago.”

Since Lindstrom became mayor in 2007, Falcon Heights has opened a community garden and an organic local food hub. In January, the city gave away LED lightbulbs to its residents for free, which both lowered utility bills and reduced homes’ impact on the planet. In 2011, Falcon Heights installed a solar garden on the roof of city hall, which now provides 25 to 40 percent of the building’s power in the summer. That number drops to just 5 percent in the winter. To compensate, the city has also subscribed to a community solar garden in Chisago County, which sends them the sun’s energy through the grid.

“There’s no silver bullet to addressing climate change,” said Lindstrom. “It’s more like silver buckshot.”

While progress can seem insignificant compared to the scale of the issue, Lindstrom is optimistic cities can make a huge difference in moving toward a cleaner future. When he’s not working as the city’s mayor, Lindstrom serves as an outreach coordinator for the University of Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Team, where he helps other cities come up with financing schemes for sustainability and energy efficiency.

Falcon Heights Mayor Peter Lindstrom shows off the solar panels that help power city hall in that suburb.

Jacob Steinberg

One unlikely city taking up the cause of energy efficiency is Warren, in northwestern Minnesota. The hamlet of 1,500 people seems remote, sitting two hours north of Fargo, but its residents take a global view of things. The city is part of the Climate Smart Partnership, a program that pairs Minnesota cities with a German counterpart to collaborate on how to be more sustainable and energy efficient.

After visiting Warren’s German partner city of Arnsberg, city administrator Shannon Mortenson started working on ways Warren could emulate the efficiency efforts she’d seen in Germany. The city government has since started using a drone to take thermal images of all the houses in town, to show residents where they could prevent heat loss and save energy. Warren also banned disposable silverware in city hall, started a curbside recycling program, and is working on installing solar panels on its new rec center.

Mortenson even bought an electric car after her trip to Germany, which she says performs just fine on her 70-mile round trip commute. She’s working on getting a charger in town to show others they can do the same.

“We want to do things differently than we have in the past.” Mortenson said. “Participating in the program has just brought to light for residents that we can make changes in our everyday life.”

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39-story condo tower would rise high over Minneapolis riverfront

This image shows a drone’s-eye view of the site, in foreground. The plan calls for a narrow tower atop a podium that will house parking and space th

A 39-story condo tower that’s slated to be built along the downtown Minneapolis riverfront could be the tallest, most expensive project of its kind to land in the city since the recession.

Ryan Cos. and Twin Cities developer Luigi Bernardi are partnering to develop the 101-unit project along West River Parkway — the first in the Upper Midwest to be designed by famed Robert A.M. Stern Architects.

The team unveiled its plans for the “Eleven” on Tuesday night before the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association’s land-use committee. Reaction has been positive, said Joe Tamburino, DMNA president.

“We want more owner-occupied housing,” he said. “I see this as a plus for our neighborhood.”

One of the proposal’s attributes, he said, is that it calls for at least two parking spaces per unit, plus parking for tenants next door that can be used after-hours for other neighborhood activities including the Guthrie Theater.

“I live and work downtown and bike and walk a lot, but you still need a vehicle,” Tamburino said.

The project comes at a time when a record number of rental apartments are under construction throughout the metro, but few condos.

Though floor plans — and prices — are still being finalized, the smallest units in the building as planned will have about 1,600 square feet. All the units will have two bedrooms, and there will not be more than five units per floor. The project is now designed as a narrow tower that sits atop a multilevel podium that will house parking and space that can be sold as guest suites and offices.

The lead design architect for the project will be Paul Whalen a partner at Stern, a Park Avenue firm with an international reputation. The firm’s work includes 15 Central Park West in New York, One Bennett Park in Chicago and One St. Thomas Street in Toronto.

As part of the design process, Whalen said he spent time in Minneapolis studying the design, scale and details of notable buildings in the Mill District, North Loop and other historic neighborhoods in the city.

“We want to bring urban living in Minneapolis to a new level,” said Whalen. “But just as importantly we want to anchor the east end of the city’s riverfront with a visually powerful statement and a community that will enliven the neighborhood’s streets, paths and parks.”

Several recent Mill District condos have fetched more than $1,000 per square foot — the highest in the city.

The tower would be built on what’s now a small surface parking lot between two small office buildings along West River Parkway. Ryan owned the site for several years but recently sold it to an LLC associated with Bernardi, a co-developer with Ryan on an Edina residential tower called Arcadia near Southdale and with Opus Group on the Velo in the North Loop.

The site is positioned along the river and Gold Medal Park in a neighborhood that’s taken shape on land that was several decades ago occupied by gritty rail yards.

Several historic mill buildings have been converted into luxury condos, hundreds of rental apartments have been built and the area is now home to the Guthrie Theater, MacPhail Center for Music and the Mill City Museum.

The tower would be built next to the Legacy, a 400-plus-unit condo project that’s under construction and expected to be ready for occupancy later this year.

As of late, there has been no shortage of upper-bracket home buyers in the Twin Cities metro. Sales of $1 million-plus listings in the 13-county metro have posted the biggest increase of any price range, according to data from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. During January, there were 25 percent more $1 million-plus sales compared with last year, but a dearth of options for new condo buyers.

In addition to the Legacy, only a couple condo projects have been completed over the past decade. At the end of January, 457 condos were on the market in the 13-county metro, 22 percent fewer than last year at this time; just 59 of those listings were new construction.

In January, the new condos sold for $487 per square foot, more than four times the price of all existing properties.

Despite what appears to be pent-up demand, developers say they have avoided condo construction, fearing the kind of litigation that was rampant after hundreds of units were built before the recession.

Minnesota has one of the most stringent homeowner warranty laws in the nation, putting developers and others involved in the construction process on the hook for a decade after completion. Individual condo owners belong to homeowners’ associations that are often better equipped to pursue construction-defect litigation than an individual homeowner.

The Eleven would stand within sight of a 40-story tower that Twin Cities-based Alatus plans to build on the opposite bank of the river in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.

That project, known as 200 Central, was given the green light by the city. However, it was opposed by the Neighbors for East Bank Livability, which said the project wasn’t appropriate for the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, which strictly limits height and density on new development.

A representative for Alatus said that he expects to clear the final legal hurdle in June and break ground this year.

The Eleven is unlikely to face such hurdles. Though it is within sight of the St. Anthony Falls — the biggest vertical drop along the length of the Mississippi — plus the Stone Arch Bridge and other historic features, it is outside the historic district so it is not governed by the same height and density limits.

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SpartanNash holds ‘Destination Savings’ Spring Trade Show

MINNEAPOLIS — Approximately 750 vendors displayed a huge range of products Feb. 20-21 at the Minneapolis Convention Center during the annual SpartanNash Spring Trade Show.

“The theme for this show was ‘Destination Savings,’” Lance Barrett, merchandising manager of events at SpartanNash in Edina, MN, told The Produce News. “We tried to have a vacation-type theme, so we had each of the departments pick a country and decorate to that theme. The bakery/deli department chose France so they had the Eiffel Tower; the meat department did Italy with the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the grocery department decided to do Great Britain with Big Ben and the Union Jack décor; and the produce department said, ‘Hey, let’s do a market-type event,’ and decided Mexico would be a great country for them because there are a lot of street markets there.”

Vendors displayed in over 250 booths on the show floor, with 397 retail store customers attending the two-day event.

“It’s almost two-to-one vendors to customers, so the customers could be well taken care of this year,” said Barrett. “The vendors really enjoy this because it gives them the opportunity to talk with numerous customers all at one time. In order to talk to 300 customers it would take them forever to go to each one of these stores. But this gives them the opportunity to discuss business with a whole group of customers and sell a ton of merchandise in just two days.”

And this proved to be a two-way street because the retail account customers also appreciated the Spring Trade Show.

“It gives them the opportunity to get out of the stores and experience a lot of merchandising we do here at the show,” Barrett said. “This isn’t just a show to be flashy; it gives the customers ideas about what they can do in their stores. And besides the show floor, prior to the show we have three hours of seminars where our customers get educated on new trends in the industry and all the different things happening, like self-checkouts. The educational aspect of these shows is very important.”

After the show was over, all leftover products were donated to the Twin Cities food bank St. Vincent de Paul.

“Typically, at a show like this we’ll donate between 50,000 to 60,000 pounds of food for local communities,” said Barrett. “St. Vincent de Paul comes and collects it and within two weeks all of this food is out in the food banks around the state. We’re just the conduit for the vendors that donate all of this product to put out for the show and that also helps support our community.”

The next SpartanNash event will be its Fall Trade Show here Aug. 15-16.

“We’re planning a holiday theme,” Barrett said. “But we’re still working on that.”

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Wow! House: Modern French Masterpiece On Sale In Edina

EDINA, MN – Prepare to be amazed. This modern french masterpiece was completely remodeled last year with the latest in smart home technologies and newly built basement with its state of the art movie screen, bar area and gym.

Only a three-minute drive from Blake School and Interlachen Country Club, you’ll appreciate the privacy of this spacious home.

This listing originally appeared on realtor.com. For more information and photos, click here.


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In Rice County and across Minnesota, residents hurry to pay taxes before New Year

The directory at the Rice County Government Services Center Shows residents the way to the auditor-treasurer’s office, where some homeowners are paying their taxes before the New Year as a result of the new GOP tax plan. (Daily News file photo)

Across the state, county auditor-treasurers are seeing dozens and dozens hurrying in to pay their property taxes before the calendar flips to 2018.

Choose from four options: Annual digital subscription, 4-week digital subscription, 1-day digital pass and Monthly EZ Pay digital subscription.

EZ Pay digital subscriptions are the best value and are billed automatically each month on the 15th.

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Two condo towers could rise across from Southdale, Galleria in Edina

Two local developers, Arcadia LLC and Ryan Cos., want to build a pair of Art Deco-inspired condo towers across from the Galleria and Southdale shopping centers, the latest and biggest additions in a rapidly evolving transformation of Edina.

The proposal, which emerged publicly Tuesday, comes at a time when availability of for-sale condos is extremely low in the Twin Cities.

The project, called Estelle Edina, includes the two towers, six brownstone-style condos, 12,000 square feet of retail and a signature restaurant at the corner of France Avenue and 69th Street.

“I grew up just a few blocks down on France Avenue and am excited about the vision that so many people have for this district,” said Arcadia President Luigi Bernardi, who grew up in the Cornelia neighborhood and is a lifelong Edina resident. His company recently completed the nearby Aurora on France, a senior living project.

“Our goal is to give the corner of France and 69th a community feel — walkable, accessible and livable,” he said.

Both towers will be slender enough to minimize the visual impact of the buildings and have four units at most per floor.

This rendering depicts an area at street level between the two towers.

The towers will be built with stone and glass and, because of the compact floorplate, every unit will be on its own corner. There will be four units per floor on the lower levels, two units per floor on the upper levels and a penthouse at the top. The tallest tower is expected to have 24 stories with 82 units for sale. The other tower will be 20 stories tall and have 70 units.

An existing Bremer Bank and BMO Harris Bank now on the site will move to new spaces in the project.

While thousands of rental apartments have been built in recent years, only a few hundred for-sale condominiums have been built. Developers cite excessive liability under current Minnesota construction-defect laws, and the issue is being debated in the Legislature. At the end of April, there were 647 condo units for sale in the metro area, 24 percent fewer than a year ago, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Estelle Edina would be the first suburban high-rise condo project to be built since the 2008 recession, and it’s just a block from the Residences at the Westin Galleria, an 82-unit property above the 225-room Westin Hotel that opened that very year. There are currently about a half-dozen units on the market in that building, ranging from $479,900 to $1.65 million.

The Estelle Edina project, which will be marketed by Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty, has been designed to fill a need for owner-occupied housing, particularly for empty-nesters, sales agent John Wanninger said.

“Simply put, demand is very strong with few options for Edina residents who want to transition to maintenance-free living but who don’t want to leave Edina.” said Wanninger, who also marketed the Westin condos.

The project is part of a re-visioning process for what’s known as the Greater Southdale Area, which began in early 2015 as part of Edina’s long-term planning policy. The effort included the input from 16 Edina residents for the Greater Southdale Work Group, including neighbors and business and civic leaders who helped develop guiding principles for the district.

“There is a lot of neighborhood, business and city support to create a vibrant, forward-looking and accessible district,” he said in a statement. “It allows for a healthy mix of building heights, densities and uses, and creates a public realm that promotes a walkable, healthy and safe environment.”

The proposal, which is at the beginning of the municipal approvals process, is part of a series of development projects that are slated to increase commercial and residential density along the busiest part of France Avenue.

“Our intent is to support the district’s vision. We are passionate about creating best-in-class streetscapes and owner-occupied residences that the citizens of Edina will be proud of,” said Carl Runck, developer with Ryan.

Runck said that the team has submitted conceptual plans to the city for sketch plan review by the its planning commission and City Council. He expects to start construction during the first quarter 2018.

In recent years, Edina has been focused on redeveloping the sprawling surface lots that have served the many retail stores and office buildings in the area. Already, luxury apartments have been built in some of the parking lots at Southdale.

Earlier this year, furniture retailer Restoration Hardware said that it wants to build a four-story showroom and store in the southwest corner of the mall.

Across the street, the $100 million-plus Avenue on France project, formerly known as the Promenade on France, is remaking a 23-acre site that is currently the Southdale Office Centre. It will add a medical office building, retail, condos and a hotel.

About 2 miles north of Southdale, the Edina City Council last month approved a $79 million redevelopment plan for more retail, housing and parking near the 50th and France shopping district.

Janet Dahlquist expected to spend the rest of her life at Autumn Glen in Coon Rapids but is moving out after a steep rent hike.

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Welcome to Minnesota, the Startup Capital of the North

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When NBC Sports announced it would web-stream a competition between startup ventures live from Minneapolis on Saturday, Minnesota companies were conspicuously absent from the line-up.

Organizers behind the National Football League’s “First and Future” competition say the reasons vary — they excluded some companies with ties to the Rochester-based Mayo Clinic, for instance, because the judges include two prominent Mayo doctors.

But make no mistake: Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is home to just as many entrepreneurs and their daring ventures.

Bold North, indeed.

In Minneapolis, Erik Brust and Connor Wray manufacture frozen smoothies on a stick — better known as JonnyPops, a fruity recipe that rolled out of their dormitory basement during their recent undergraduate days at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

From the Maple Grove offices of StemoniX, fellow entrepreneur Ping Yeh plates damaged brain and heart cells for therapeutic testing — a stem-cell breakthrough based on concepts he licensed from a Nobel Prize-winning scientist.

JonnyPops and StemoniX may seem like they’re worlds apart, but the Minnesota startups share the same accomplishment — they’ve both won cash and acclaim from the MN Cup, the largest statewide start-up competition in the country.

With the energy and excitement of Super Bowl LII in the air, business advocates held their own startup showcase Tuesday at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center in Minneapolis. (So take that, NBC Sports!)

As 3D-printing companies, craft beer makers and experts in sports therapy displayed their wares, posters reminded visitors of the many inventions that the world can thank Minnesotans for: water-skis, minute clinics, post-it notes, roller blades, battery-powered external pacemakers, satellite news television … It’s a long list.

In addition to dozens of exhibits from new Minnesota companies, the heavily-attended “Startup Capital of the North Showcase” drew previous winners of the Carlson School of Management’s MN Cup, which distributes a total of $450,000 in cash awards to the state’s most promising new business ventures, including student businesses.

“We were excited to showcase the many great companies and entrepreneurs in the region that are creating products, services and platforms to solve real problems for consumers,” said Michael Brown, a spokesman for Greater MSP, a Twin Cities economic development partnership and lead event organizer. “(NBC’s) 1st and Future startup competition missed out by not featuring any Minnesota companies.”

The showcase was sponsored by the MN Cup, Greater MSP and the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.

The 2018 MN Cup will host a launch party on March 26. Applications will be due April 27, with an awards event Oct. 8.

Here’s a quick look at just a handful of companies that participated in the Startup Capital of the North Showcase:


When youth teams like the St. Paul Blackhawks, Eagan Wave Youth Soccer, Roseville Area Youth Baseball or the Woodbury Area Hockey Club want to evaluate players or rank tryouts, they turn to the same software — Team Genius ( MyTeamGenius.com ).

The performance software, which is the brainchild of Chris Knutson and former Forest Lake youth soccer (Lakes United FC) coach Todd Larson, is geared toward youth sports but could easily be adjusted for college athletes, physical education classes or even orchestral musicians. The Pittsburgh Flag Football League is one of many clients who have signed on since the company’s official launch in July 2016.

“Paper-driven process is error prone and really requires a lot of data entry,” said Knutson, noting that Team Genius rankings are automatically adjusted in real-time as data comes in. “If you ask anyone who’s ever run a youth sports evaluation, or tryouts, they will cringe when you talk about entering data the old way.”


Don’t call it mouth guard. Well, OK, Edina-based Prevent Biometrics produces a mouth guard, but it’s also so much more. The guard masks a flexible, shock-resistant circuit board that sends impact data in real time to your phone app.

Every time your student athlete takes a hit in hockey or meets the ground in lacrosse, the intensity, location, direction and count of each head impact can be sent instantaneously to sideline personnel. The product, which debuted this year, promises to improve the speed and accuracy of concussion assessment, diagnosis and treatment — as well as faster return to play.

Founded in 2015, Prevent Biometrics is working with the Department of Defense and the National Football League on professional applications.


Ryan Petz, CEO of Minneapolis-based Fulton Beer, launched his brewery in 2009 while still a student at the Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis. On Tuesday, he poured a sample of one of his 37 creations for former instructor Toby Nord, the director of Carlson Ventures Enterprise, a year-long course in experiential learning for MBA students.

Fulton, which produces everything from sours and saisons to a coffee stout and barrel-aged barleywine, is now marketing an intense India Pale Ale called “300” that the company describes as “pure hop candy.”


It might look like there’s a dirty word in there somewhere, but Minneapolis-based Smashit promises a clean conclusion after an “exciting opportunity to destroy (recyclable items) inside of our safety-certified mobile cage.”

The Smashit.live website features a “wreckreational destruction” video of a ski and snowboard club taking bats and sledgehammers to old plates, printers, keyboards and other expendable items. After guests at your social gathering or private fundraiser have finished breaking stuff, everything gets neatly carted away to recycling companies by these young entrepreneurs, most of whom are still undergraduates. They launched their company in December.


OK, this one’s not exactly a startup, but it is proof that Minnesota startups can grow to become significant players in cutting-edge industries. Founded in 1988, Stratasys, now based jointly in Eden Prairie and Rehovot, Israel, has been producing manufacturing aids and replacement parts through 3D printing longer than almost anyone in the field.

Before sending designs off to China for mass production, companies turn to Stratasys to 3D-print a new vehicle part that can be fit-tested and function-tested using real fuel. And that’s just one of many potential applications, which range from the medical to the mundane. The company 3D-printed a trophy for Tuesday’s showcase in about eight hours.

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Trammell Crow is planning a 168-unit apartment project a JC Penney owned parking lot at Minnetonka’s Ridgedale Center – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

A six-story luxury apartment building for people over age 55 would transform the southwest corner of the Ridgedale Center parking lot in Minnetonka.

High Street Residential, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co., has submitted plans for a 168-unit project on a surface parking lot owned by J.C. Penney.

The U-shaped building would be built just south of the Firestone auto shop and the J.C. Penney store. The project does not include the actual store, and J.C. Penney, in announcing eight Minnesota store closures last summer, did not include the Ridgedale location.

The project, designed by Minneapolis-based ESG Architecture & Design, has an amenity deck with a pool and hot tub, as well as underground parking.

In addition to the apartment building, Minnetonka’s project description says Trammell Crow would dedicate some of the land for a future park, which appears on site plans.

Just across the street to the south, developer Rotenberg Cos. has pitched plans to the city for a 93-unit luxury apartment project at the site of the former Redstone Grill, which moved into the mall.

This would’t be the first time J.C. Penney has sold property near a regional mall. Last year the company sold its Southdale Center store in Edina to Life Time Inc., which is demolishing the building and constructing a health club on the site.

The Trammell Crow project is tentatively scheduled for a Feb. 1 Planning Commission hearing.

J.C. Penney declined to discuss its real estate activities. Trammel Crow and the city of Minnetonka couldn’t be reached for comment.

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Candidates for Minnesota governor talk rural issues

GOP gubernatorial candidates Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens (center left) and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (center right) talked before a rural issues forum. DFL candidate Chris Coleman (right), former mayor of St. Paul, talked with Reed Anfinson of the Center for Rural Development.

Candidates for governor from both political parties gathered Friday to address pressing issues in rural Minnesota, including a shortage of workers, housing and health care.

The location: A Bloomington hotel, which seemed to encapsulate the perceived short shrift given rural communities in the state’s political dialogue.

Candidates are hustling to win support at Feb. 6 precinct caucuses, where attendees will have a chance to select their choice for governor in a nonbinding straw poll. Caucusgoers will also begin the process of choosing delegates to their state conventions in June, where the parties will endorse candidates for governor.

With DFL Gov. Mark Dayton not running for re-election, the race is wide open and contested on both sides.

Republican and DFL candidates both pledged solidarity with greater Minnesota, albeit from diametrically opposing viewpoints.

Republicans Jeff Johnson and Keith Downey said the state needs to impose fewer burdens on builders and health insurance companies to free up companies to meet the needs of rural residents.

“You can’t build low cost housing in Minnesota anymore,” said Downey, a former Republican lawmaker from Edina who also previously served as chairman of the state Republican Party. Downey blamed government regulations on developers for driving up the cost of much needed housing in rural communities.

DFL Reps. Paul Thissen, Tina Liebling and Erin Murphy, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and State Auditor Rebecca Otto said the state needs to spend money on housing, child care, health care and other rural needs.

Thissen said when he arrived at the Legislature in 2003, government solved a deficit by reducing aid to local communities and child care subsidies, cuts that have hurt rural communities the most, he said.

Mary Giuliani Stephens, the Republican mayor of Woodbury, promised to tailor solutions to individual communities, like a parent with her children: “I will not do a one-size-fits-all for greater Minnesota. We are one state and one family. But even in my family my children different,” she said.

Coleman advocated for rural broadband internet access: “How are you going to attract families when you have to drive around in your car to get cell coverage so your kid can do his homework?” he asked.

Johnson, the lone Republican on the Hennepin County Board, said greater Minnesota residents should have more health insurance options like low cost catastrophic coverage with high deductibles: “Who am I to say they shouldn’t be able to do that?” he asked.

Walz touted his experience representing one of the nation’s biggest agriculture producing congressional districts: “Not theoretically representing rural Minnesota but actually representing rural Minnesota,” he said.

Otto cited a set of policy plans she’s released, including two years of tuition free college she said would help provide businesses with the workers they need in greater Minnesota.

Reed Anfinson, who owns two rural newspapers and sits on the board of the Center for Rural Policy and Development, which sponsored the forum, was mostly unimpressed with what he called “platitudes” of the candidates.

“With each generation people in the metro get farther away from having a tie to greater Minnesota,” he said.

Anfinson said what rural communities most desperately need are people after decades of population stagnation and loss.

Swift County, where he publishes the Swift County Monitor-News, has lost one-third of its population since its peak in the 1950s, he said.

“We need people creation,” he said.

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