APEX News - July 2018


Driving the Economy With a Strong Private Sector

For your information, this opinion piece appeared in the DNT on Sunday, July 1, 2018:

For over 15 years, APEX has been the business development engine for the private sector in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. APEX investor-members represent many industries and comprise some of the largest and most influential organizations in the region. They work together to strengthen our economy through a shared, vested interest in the attraction, expansion and retention of business. 
We have such great potential here – if we all work together we can realize that potential. Our success relies heavily on building a next-generation workforce, ensuring housing exists to meet market needs and supporting job growth in a thriving private sector. When we collaborate to solve issues like these, we win.
First, we need to renew our focus on education, training and a strong workforce. APEX and several partners, including the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), regional workforce centers, foundations and Minnesota Power, have joined together to assess the region’s workforce skills, better understand the needs of business, and formulate solutions to help develop skill sets and encourage a fully engaged regional labor force. Initiatives like this one are a prime example of the public and private sectors working together to solve problems common to all of us.
Second, we need a variety of housing. Neel Kashkari, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President, drove this point home during his keynote address at the Regional Economic Indicators Forum in Duluth in April 2018. The availability of housing for the next-generation workforce is a key asset in attracting talent to a community. Projects like CityView Flats are a great start. We applaud MBJ Development, the City of Duluth and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency for their efforts to develop workforce housing. Variety is essential – including affordable, market rate and multi-family options. If the workforce can’t find affordable options to live here, they’ll have to find work outside the region.

In Case You Missed It:
Workforce Dialogue Sets Foundation for Assessment

Workforce has been a cornerstone of the APEX work plan since 2013. Low unemployment, anticipated retirement rates and increased workforce demand have created the perfect storm for employers in need of talent. To address the challenges and spark conversation around solutions, APEX has dedicated a significant amount of staff time and resources to several efforts, including a three-part Workforce Solutions Series with regional partners.
The last sessions in the series were held May 16 in Duluth and Grand Rapids and featured Nancy Lyons, CEO and entrepreneur. Lyons discussed the intersection of leadership, entrepreneurialism, technology and the human-centered approach to business. She pushed participants to think differently about recruiting strategies.

Additionally, the May APEX Board Meeting included roundtable discussions regarding workforce challenges and gaps within the region. The impetus for the discussion was to garner input for the Workforce Skills Assessment being planned for late 2018/early 2019. Interviews with potential research partners would be conducted in June and APEX wanted to determine which categories, in order of importance, are of primary concern to APEX investor-members – attracting workforce, retaining workforce or developing strategies to engage those not currently participating in the workforce.
May 3, 2018 APEX Board of Directors meeting at the Kitchi Gammi Club in Duluth

Member Connection: Cirrus Aircraft

Congratulations are due to the many APEX investor-members who worked collaboratively to bring the Cirrus Aircraft Completion Center from concept to reality. This outstanding project was recognized by Finance & Commerce as a top project in 2017 and strengthens another unique manufacturing application in the APEX Region.
This project was truly a collaborative effort that would not have been possible without APEX members Cirrus Aircraft, Burns & McDonnell and McGough Construction. Cirrus worked with Burns & McDonnell to design the new facility and McGough Construction oversaw all construction efforts, employing many local trades workers and companies to complete the job. Other organizations on this project included Belknap Electric, Inc., Northland Consulting Engineers, Briese Iron Works and our partner, the City of Duluth.

Mass Timber Resources in Minnesota

Does Minnesota have what it takes to become the country’s next mass timber producer? That’s precisely what APEX, the MN DNR, the US Forest Service and the University of Minnesota, Duluth hope to discover with a new study on the industry.
Mass timber is an engineered wood product designed for structural applications. It can be used for structural support in place of concrete, steel or masonry and is being adopted in locations around the U.S. with enthusiasm. Mass timber has the strength, stability, and flexibility required for construction, with the smaller carbon footprint associated with renewable resources. There are opportunities for great synergies with hybrid buildings, using both steel and mass timber.
Today, Minnesota’s sawmills produce lumber for the residential construction industry. A shift to mass timber would diversify our market to support future manufacturing facilities in Minnesota and beyond. With just two mass timber producers in operation in the U.S. today, this an excellent opportunity for Minnesota to enter the market. Potential mass timber species in Minnesota are led by red pine and Jack pine, with potential opportunities in the future for balsam fir and spruce.

Meet the New APEX Intern

In May, APEX welcomed Kristie Slindee to the APEX team as a Business Development Intern. A current student at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Slindee holds leadership positions in her service sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma, with whom she has completed over 240 hours of service in our community. A member of the UMD German Club, she studied abroad at the University of Passau, Germany. Upon graduating, Slindee hopes to apply the knowledge and skill set that her internship offers to a finance career overseas. She appreciates the language and culture of Germany and looks forward to the challenge of working in a foreign country.
Slindee is on track to graduate this fall with a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and a Bachelor of Arts in German studies, accompanied by a minor in international business. “We are excited to add Kristie’s talents to APEX this summer and help in fostering local and international business connections while on the team,” stated Brian Hanson, APEX President, and CEO.

Upcoming APEX Staff Events

Prospective New Member Reception
September 27, 2018
Kitchi Gammi Club
Duluth, MN
4:30-6:30 PM
Members In The News
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