Investors are turning again to medical technology, one of Minnesota's economic strengths. In 1999 and 2000, the share of venture capital dollars going to medical device companies dropped dramatically as money poured into dot-coms. Observers say the renewed enthusiasm for medical devices is good for Minnesota, but the state's lack of critical mass in biotechnology may be a looming threat.
Federated Department Stores said Monday it
has terminated negotiations to sell its Fingerhut subsidiary to an investor group led by Minnesota businessman Peter Lytle.
Golden Valley-based General Mills has laid off about 500 more workers in Minnesota. Slowing sales are also forcing the maker of Cheerios cereals to say profits will fall short of earlier projections. This is the second time the company has disclosed problems since acquiring its Twin Cities neighbor Pillsbury last fall.
The first wave of Fingerhut layoffs is complete. In Minnesota about 2,400 of the catalog retailer's employees are out of work. Another 900 in Tennessee are hitting the street. More layoffs are in the offing. And even as negotiations continue over a possible sale of Fingerhut, optimism about the company's future appears to be fading. .
Federated Department Stores Inc. said Thursday that it will begin exploring the sale of Fingerhut's assets immediately and will lay off 3,300 employees by April 5.
A group of Twin Cities business and government leaders are promoting an approach to economic development based on industry clusters. The idea is to improve the state's economic vitality by nurturing industries that already have a concentration in Minnesota, such as medical technology.
A business group led by turnaround specialist Peter Lytle has signed a letter of intent to purchase Fingerhut.
A new state survey indicates job openings in Minnesota have declined more than 40 percent in the past year. The report also says the job market in the St. Cloud area is weaker than the state as a whole.
Federated Department Stores Inc. announced that it would search for a buyer for its Fingerhut subsidiary, and would close the operation if no buyer is found.
Minnesota's unemployment rate rose .10 percent to 3.8 last month. The state's jobless rate remains well below the national level, and posted a smaller increase than the nation as a whole in November. But layoffs are rising dramatically among the state's white collar workers, historically a group that has been less vulnerable to job cuts.
Retail's crucial holiday shopping season typically contributes about one quarter of a year's sales. The September terror attacks hit an already weak economy, suggesting it will be a subdued holiday shopping season overall.
Minnesota's unemployment rate jumped to 3.7 percent in October - an increase of .4 percent from September. Minnesota's jobless rate remains well below the national rate of 5.4 percent. But the state is losing jobs at a faster rate than the U.S. as a whole.
As layoffs rise and the job market weakens, church-based support groups for job hunters are growing in number and size in the Twin Cities. The groups typically offer job seekers emotional support and the opportunity to expand their network of contacts.
Halloween isn't just kids stuff anymore. It's grown into a commercial event producing nearly $7 billion per year in sales. And despite the attacks of September 11, the National Retail Federation is predicting modest growth in sales this year. Halloween is not normally seen as a gauge of the all-important Christmas season. But this year, some retailers are looking for hopeful signs among the trick or treaters.
Twin Cities-based 3M and Imation reported profits Monday. 3M's declined, but its share price rose. Imation posted a big jump in profits, but its stock fell.