April 10, 2017

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April's legislative breakfast discussing transit and transportation in partnership with the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Post Easter/Passover Break: Budget Battle Looms At The Capitol      

From MInnPost.com, Briana Bierschbach, April 6, 2017

" At this time six years ago, things weren't going so well in St. Paul.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton was entering his fourth month as governor of Minnesota and facing off against a Republican-controlled Legislature to shape the state's more than $40 billion budget. "We were $3 billion apart, myself and the Republican majorities," Dayton said. "I came down a billion and a half and sat there and they wouldn't budge, so we ended up with a [government] shutdown."

Now halfway through Dayton's second term - and with the GOP once again in control of the Legislature - Dayton and Republican leaders say this year is a different story.

So far this session, the governor and Republicans have already found agreement on a handful of major issues, from a bill providing short-term relief for people who've seen their health insurance premiums skyrocket to the most recent agreement over a so-called "reinsurance" bill to subsidize insurance companies operating in the individual market. Meanwhile, the Republican House and Senate have spent the last two weeks churning through committee work and votes on major budget packages, from tax cuts, health care and roads to funding colleges and classrooms.

After they take a break for Easter and Passover next week, legislators and the governor will negotiate their differences on budget bills in conference committees as soon as they return, starting in mid-April."

Retail Imports Continue to Grow as Economy Expands"    

From the National Retail Federation, April 10, 2017

" Imports at the nation's major retail container ports should continue to see strong increases throughout the spring and summer as the nation's economy improves, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

"Consumers are spending more, and these import numbers show that retailers expect that to continue for a significant period," NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. "This is a clear sign that the economy has long-term momentum regardless of month-to-month fluctuations. Whether it's merchandise for store shelves or parts for U.S. factories, imports play a vital role in American prosperity."

"Our view that imports will continue to be stable despite the uncertainties of the new administration's trade policies remains unchanged," Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said. "Despite pre-election promises, there has been little real change in trade policy so far and little change is expected for the greater part of the year."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.43 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in February, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was a decrease of 14.3 percent from January as many Asian factories shut down for Lunar New Year, and down 7 percent from the same month a year ago. Coming after the winter holidays and before retailers stock up for summer, February is historically the slowest month of the year for imports. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.

March was estimated at 1.61 million TEU, up 21.5 percent from unusually low numbers last year, when Lunar New Year came a week later than this year. April is forecast at 1.59 million TEU, up 10.3 percent from last year; May at 1.68 million TEU, up 3.5 percent; June at 1.66 million TEU, up 5.3 percent; July at 1.71 million TEU, up 5.1 percent, and August at 1.74 million TEU, up 1.6 percent."

April's legislative breakfast discussing transit and transportation in partnership with the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Everything You Know About the Internet Killing Retail May Be Wrong

From the Motley Fool, Daniel Kline, April 3, 2017

"Conventional wisdom says physical retail is slowly dying as online stores take more market share. That logic appeared to be proven true by the string of negative earnings reports in which various chains said their Q4 and holiday sales were down, or at least disappointing.

But just because many people believe something, and some evidence suggests it's true, does not mean it actually is. Deloitte Consulting Chief Retail Innovation Officer Kasey M. Lobaugh, speaking at the ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas last month, said that conventional wisdom is wrong. He showed data that makes a strong case for his company's contention that brick-and-mortar sales are actually growing, just not at many of the traditional market leaders.

"Heading into the holidays there was optimism," Lobaugh said. "We had income levels that were strong. Really, we had all the signs that were pointing to a very strong holiday."

Deloitte, he said, expected total retail sales to rise 4% during the holiday period and that was what actually happened. He also said that online sales (which are roughly 18% of the total) were up about 12% while brick-and-mortar sales rose 2.3%. The perception that physical retail was down overall, he said, was fueled by so many big players reporting disappointing Q4 results."

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