Celebrate National Night Out August 2
Harriet Island Refreshed
Two Humanitarians to speak in St. Paul
Grand Wheeler: Complexity of Starting A Business
St. Paul Fire Department Hosts Diversity Training
West 7th Public Library

Celebrate National Night Out August 2[IMAGE]

In 2010, St. Paul received the National Night Out organization’s first place award for cities with a population between 100,000 and 299,000. Minneapolis placed second nationally in the 300,000+ category, and many smaller Minnesota municipalities place high in their categories. National Night Out is thriving in the West End. Along with our central celebration — the neighborhood party and picnic at the Community Center running from 5 to 8 p.m. under the big tent in the Center’s north parking lot, where the festivities include live music, dancing, games and activities for kids, including face painting and plenty of eats and treats — there are also many local block parties that provide a great opportunity to get down with your neighbors and meet some new ones!

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Harriet Island Refreshed [IMAGE]

The Great River Passage Master Plan includes many “Gathering Places” — year-round destination recreation facilities, marinas, public and private cafés, and places to “hang out,” where city residents and visitors go to socialize, be entertained, or relax. They are highly social destinations on the river, surrounded by the natural landscape. The current use of Harriet Island as a venue for large festivals will be expanded to encourage daily use of Harriet Island Park for youth-oriented activities. A zero-depth splash fountain adjacent to the existing playground will become a major destination for families as a place to cool off in the summer. The park will be expanded to provide a stronger connection to Wabasha Street and to develop a regional court sports and skate park facility. Other youth-oriented facilities would include the development of a wintertime ice hockey rink, which would be converted for summertime roller hockey.

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Two Humanitarians to Speak in St. Paul[IMAGE]

When genocide in Rwanda broke out in 1994 and all Americans were evacuated, Carl Wilkens was the only American who refused to leave. He stayed and helped to save hundreds of lives.
Jaime Nabozny

When Jamie Nabozny was in high school in Ashland, Wisconsin, his classmates beat him so severely he needed abdominal surgery. Nabozny was beaten and bullied because he was gay. He and his family decided to stand up against homophobia and won a landmark lawsuit in Federal court.

Wilkens and Nabozny are featured during a three-day institute for high school students this month. The program, “Child Soldiers and Bullying: Taking a Stand Against Genocide and Hate,” is hosted by World Without Genocide, a human rights organization. The institute focuses on the connection between bullying and homophobia in our local schools and the prevalence of hate and violence around the world. The program will be held at William Mitchell College of Law, 875 Summit Avenue, from August 16-18.

Wilkens will speak on August 16 at William Mitchell following a screening of the award-winning Frontline documentary “Ghosts of Rwanda.” The film takes viewers into the horrific events of 1994 through direct footage of the violence and interviews with U.S. and U.N. officials, peacekeepers, journalists, international aid workers, and Wilkens. The event is free, open to the public, and no reservations are required. Wilkens will speak with students the following morning.

[IMAGE]Nabozny will work with students on ways they can become “upstanders” at their schools in advocating for human rights for all. His story is documented in the film “Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History,” excerpts of which will be shown at the Institute.

Carl Wilkens

For more information about Wilkens visit; on Nabozny see To register for World Without Genocide’s summer institute, go to or call 952-693-5206.

World Without Genocide, headquartered at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN, promotes education and action to protect innocent people, prevent genocide, prosecute perpetrators, and remember those whose lives and cultures have been destroyed by genocide.

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Perspectives on Small Business: Metro IBA [IMAGE]

In this and the coming months, Community Reporter features some of the entrepreneurs who are investing in the West End. The importance of communities supporting small, local businesses has been clear for decades, and there has been a revival of efforts to organize and promote this insight.

One of the most energetic and active groups in the Twin Cities is called MetroIBA (Independent Business Association), a nonprofit organization working to support and preserve locally owned, independent businesses. Its mission is to provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, to build economic strength, and to create an environment where locally owned, independent businesses grow and flourish. MetroIBA’s goals are to promote local independents, to educate consumers on the value of shopping at locals and to improve conditions for local independents by influencing public policy.

MetroIBA’s core message is that supporting locally owned, independent businesses keeps more money in our own communities. When one dollar spent at a local independent, an average of 68 cents is recirculated into the local economy. In contrast, when a dollar is spent at a national chain, only about 43 cents stays at home. If Twin Cities’ consumers shift even 10% of their spending from chains to locals for one day, the Twin Cities economy gains some $2 million.

MetroIBA membership is open to businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Business members must have their primary place of business in the seven-county Twin Cities Metro area and be at least 51% locally owned. For detailed membership information see or call Executive Director Mary Hamel at 651-387-0738.
Information from the U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; and the Bureau of the Census, reinforce the MetroIBA message.

How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy? Small firms:
  • Represent 99.7% of all employer firms.
  • Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44% of total U.S. private payroll.
  • Have generated 64% of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
  • Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Hire 40% of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
  • Are 52% home-based and 2% franchises.
  • Made up 97.3% of all identified exporters and produced 30.2%of the known export value in FY 2007.
  • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.
What share of net new jobs do small businesses create? Firms with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 64% (or 14.5 million) of the 22.5 million net new jobs (gains minus losses) between 1993 and the third quarter of 2008. Continuing firms accounted for 68% of net new jobs, and the other 32% reflect net new jobs from firm births minus those lost in firm closures (1993 to 2007).

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Grand Wheeler: The Complexity of Starting a Business [IMAGE]


The entrepreneur is a risk-taker. He or she invests his/her own funds, borrows from banks or credit unions based on a convincing business plan, and negotiates with potential partners and investors — all necessary tasks that still don’t take into account the actual housing, supplying, managing and evaluating of the business itself. In spite of these challenges, small business, defined as an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees, has been responsible for 64% of new jobs created in the U.S. since 1993. For the community, the broadening of goods and services that are easily available, and the addition of a new source of support for community events and nonprofit organizations, only enhances their job creation accomplishments.

Naturally, in setting up a new business, there are many city rules, regulations, ordinances, licensing requirements and permissions required, and navigating all the detail work can be daunting. It would help to have a system that translated its theoretical friendliness to business into creating easy systems with which to progress.

How long should it take for a new enterprise to meet all requirements and begin earning income? When land and buildings have been purchased or leased, cash outflow does not wait for the inflow to begin.

As a case study we can look at Grand Wheeler Enterprises, which opened its auto repair shop at 1200 West Seventh in May 2010. Chuck Brost, who has operated two Sinclair gas stations and repair shops in Highland for many years, bought the property, formerly an auto repair shop, after it had been vacant for three years. With chain-link fencing, a partially unpaved lot and a deteriorating building, it was one of the unhappy remnants of failed business that we see in several parts of the West End.

Initially, Brost wanted to sell used cars on the lot, and do mechanical repairs and detailing on them in the shop. To accomplish this they would need a used car retail sales license as well as an auto repair license to work on the cars.

In May 2009 Brost and associate Jeff Karels spoke to the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation board asking for support for the conditional use permit they would need to add used car sales. The Federation said that this would be contingent on neighborhood support, and Brost/Karels conducted an informal survey that showed a large majority supporting their plan. At the June meeting, the Federation adopted a supportive resolution.

As part of the process that followed, the City conducted a formal survey of neighbors with 300 feet of the property. This time the used car lot idea failed to receive a two-thirds majority, but the auto repair service was supported.

As committee work continued, the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) actually approved a conditional use permit for used car sales (in spite of the neighborhood survey), and the parent Planning Commission had the matter back for a final approval. However, the Planning Commission rejected the BZA’s recommendation to grant “a change of nonconforming use from auto repairs to outdoor auto sales with accessory auto repairs.” A committee member raised the issue of an old law suit (1989) involving a former business on the property, and other previous support seemed to waver. A final appeal to City Council, which can approve or deny Planning Commission decisions, was denied in April.

While all this was going on, the City granted an auto repair license, and plans moved ahead to operate as a repair shop without the retail used car sales feature. The term “retail” is emphasized, because the business is allowed to buy and rehabilitate used cars strictly for resale to dealers or at auction. By then, Grand Wheeler Enterprises had amassed the auto repair license, occupancy license, wholesale dealer license and hazardous waste generator license.

A number of conditions were placed on the auto repair license, including replacing the chain-link fence with wrought iron, repaving parts of the lot and restriping, landscape work and the like. In one of those “Catch 22” situations, many of the jobs required to meet the conditions themselves require new permits. Nevertheless, Grand Wheeler pushed ahead and, opened for business in May 2010. It had satisfied most of the requirements and undertaken to complete the rest.

Now, just over a year later, Chuck Brost reports that the business has had a good initial year, improving each month. Most of his customers live in the area — folks who might have been doubtful or against the idea at first — are now steady customers. Local resident Gary Shaffer said, “They’ve done great work for me.” The wholesale side of things has been good, but lately has slowed as they have a harder time finding good quality vehicles for repair and resale.

The landscape requirement condition of the license remains to be completed. Chuck Brost has expressed interest that the area currently defined by a triangular wooden frame at Tuscarora and West Seventh be used for “green space.” Plants donated by neighborhood gardeners and a public art installation have been suggested for the space, but no plan has been agreed on.

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St. Paul Fire Department Hosts Diversity Training | 8.11  [IMAGE]

Four Minnesota fire and emergency services departments (St. Paul, Minneapolis, Eden Prairie and Duluth) came together in a two-day workshop at Phalen Park to learn, discuss and develop new strategies to recruit and retain qualified, diverse, inclusive and safety-conscious firefighters and emergency responders. The St. Paul Fire Department was selected to host one of five national training sessions in 2011. The national training program is sponsored by Scott Safety and facilitated by nonprofit FIRE 20/20.

“This is a pivotal time for fire and emergency services,” said Alex Jackson, Chief of the Minneapolis Fire Department. “The demographics of our communities are rapidly changing — a growing elderly population, multiple languages, different cultures, and all this with reduced budgets. We need to get ahead of the curve on this issue and make sure that our departments truly represent our communities so that we can safely and effectively respond to all situations.”

“If we say that diversity is important, we need to be proactive” said Tim Butler, St. Paul Fire Chief and host of the training. “Please be clear,” continued Butler, “This is not about quotas. That’s an old conversation that’s no longer relevant. Simply stated, we will be a better department if we if we speak the languages, understand our customers’ cultures, have trusting relationships and have diverse perspectives in solving both today’s and tomorrow’s problems.”

Participants included the four departments’ key stakeholders, including fire chiefs, chief officers, recruitment officers, minority groups, and human resources. Terry Haltiner, Senior Human Resources Consultant with the St. Paul Fire Department, stated, “We all need to be at the table to strategically plan how we’re going to do a better job with diversity recruitment and retention. The workshop was inspiring, informative and gave us a lot of new ideas and things to work on together.”

The training was developed and delivered by nonprofit FIRE 20/20 based in Bremerton, Washington. FIRE 20/20 is leading a national diversity and inclusion initiative in the fire services in the U.S. and Canada and has been gathering best recruitment and retention practices for the last seven years from fire departments across North America.

“We learned in a recent research study that many young men of color and women of all cultures were simply unaware of what a great career the fire service provides,” said Larry Sagen, Executive Director and Founder of FIRE 20/20. “Our goal with this training is to provide strategies, tactics and tools that fire and EMS departments can easily integrate into their recruitment programs to help generate increased awareness with populations of people that have not traditionally made a career in the fire service.”
The St. Paul Fire Department serves the Capitol City with fire, EMS, education, and special rescue services. For career information visit

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Whole Wide World @ West 7th Public Library | 8.11

We’re rockin’ technology with eBooks available for downloading to most e-Readers, free music downloads with Freegal and lists of more free sites for downloadable books.

Visit our air-conditioned library and find 15 Internet computer stations, JobNow! and career websites. Hot books, cool DVDs, CDs for dancing, ideas for summer fun — it’s all at your library.

Don’t forget National Night Out, August 2, 5-8 p.m. Celebrate safe communities and visit the W7th Library table at the West 7th Community Center! Families, fun, food — all free!
See you soon, Lisa, Kyle and the Volunteer

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