May 2016 Newsletter
ExpoCulinaria 2016
The 6th annual ExpoCulinaria was held the evening of May 21, and about 150 event "passports" were given to guests. Thank you to ExpoC sponsors Rushford State Bank, AcenTek, Farmers Co-op Elevator, Merchants Bank, and M&M Lawn & Leisure--their support provided the opportunity to hear live music from The Grass Run Band, CBB Jazz Combo and Charlie Warner.  This event was made possible by the Rushford Peterson Valley establishments that provided the food and beverage samples: Norsland Lefse, Stumpy's Restaurant, Shawnee's Bar & Grill, Jessie Street Java, Rushford IGA, The Creamery, Pam's Off-Sale Liquor,  and Ferndale Golf Course. A highlight of the event was the culinary demonstration from Steven Burdey of Burdey's Cafe and Rodney Thompson--the gumbo they created was amazing! We thank them for sharing their time and talent with us. Also, special thanks to WonderInk Printing and Norman's Electric for their assistance.  
The winning samples of the 2016 ExpoCulinaria came from Norsland Lefse!  
MN Chamber reports on legislative session
Some progress on tax relief, workplace regulations; transportation unresolved
The Minnesota Legislature wrapped up official business May 22, concluding a short and challenging session framed by divided government and the November elections. Tax and spending bills were approved, but transportation, bonding and REAL ID bills were left unresolved.

The Minnesota Chamber's top priorities this year were meaningful business tax relief, comprehensive transportation funding and no additional workplace mandates. While we made good, incremental progress on two fronts, there were some disappointments. We remain hopeful that a special session will be convened to attempt to resolve outstanding issues. Here's our scorecard, to date:

TAX RELIEF
Accomplishments
The first $100,000 of market value will be exempted from the statewide business property tax, providing the greatest relief to small businesses that are in lower market value properties - many of which are located in Greater Minnesota. The overall statewide levy was reduced, too, to prevent tax shifting to higher-valued properties. In addition: 
  • The automatic tax inflator on cigarettes was removed, which will help retailers especially in bordering communities.
  • Residency factors were modified so individuals moving out of state can continue to hire Minnesota businesses. The Department of Revenue will not be able to consider the location of individual's attorney, CPA, financial adviser or financial institution in determining residency.
  • Sales and use tax collection requirements for marketplace providers were expanded with a delayed effective date of 2019.
Work to do
The statewide property tax inflator was unfortunately not repealed. Other early agenda items for the 2017 Legislature are conforming the state estate tax to the federal threshold, federal conformity with Section 179 provisions and enhancing the research-and-development tax credit.

TRANSPORTATION
Stay tuned
Lawmakers adjourned with roughly $700M in funding for transportation in limbo. We remain committed to a comprehensive package that provides sustained and strategic funding of roads, bridges and transit, and are hopeful that transportation funding will be on the docket of any special session. The bonding bill, which failed to pass, contained about $700 million in bonding and one-time money for transportation - a reflection of our efforts to broaden the base of transportation investment through the general fund.

More work to do
Complying with the federal REAL ID law remains unresolved due to differences on the question of whether and how to provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in Minnesota. The action is necessary to ensure Minnesotans are able to use their state-issued driver's license or ID to access federal buildings and federally regulated air travel.

WORKPLACE REGULATIONS
Accomplishments
We defeated the proposed paid family financed by a new payroll tax on employers and employees and administrated by a new state bureaucracy. We vigorously oppose mandates that dictate a one-size-fits-all approach to workplace regulations.

We achieved significant reform in the unemployment insurance system. Employers will receive a one-time credit in 2016 on their unemployment insurance premiums and future credits whenever the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund balance reaches 104% of the federally-recommended solvency level.

We made progress in helping mitigate the increasing number of lawsuits targeting small businesses for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Businesses are provided clear affirmative defenses when noncompliance is alleged, and, in addition, the burden of proof shifts to complainants for businesses that have buildings audited by accessibility specialists.

Work to do
We were unable to include mandatory notice in the disability lawsuit legislation due to opposition from the trial attorney group. We will continue to advocate for this requirement that businesses first be given notice and an opportunity to fix the problem prior to litigation.

We support legislation that would prevent local governments from enacting wage and benefit laws that conflict with state laws. Employers seek consistency in regulations; a patchwork of local regulations would create significant administrative challenges for employers.

The Minnesota Chamber works year-round to make Minnesota businesses competitive in the global marketplace. We try to make progress every year at the Capitol and are proud of our accomplishments. The 10-week session proved more challenging than other years. As always, thanks for your support. Together, we will help make Minnesota ready for the future - ready for change and ready to grow.

The MN Chamber's Statewide Policy Tour kicks off later in June. Also watch for their Voting Record in June to see how your lawmakers represented your priorities. See below for details on State Senator Jeremy Miller's June 30 visit to the Rushford Peterson Valley to provide our Chamber members with a legislative re-cap.
Chamber Activities
Grace Place's Executive Director Carla Burton and board members cut the ribbon for its new downtown Rushford location on May 17. The additional space is used for the non-profit agency's mentoring and small group parent and child activities. Grace Place's thrift store remains at 110 W. Jessie St.   Grace Place's Services
Chamber and Grace Place representatives attended a ribbon-cutting at Grace Place to support the opening of the new site.

Thank you Rushford State Bank for hosting a Chamber after-hours open house on May 18! It was a great opportunity to meet the bank's new employees and catch up with other Chamber member business representatives from around the area. Bank staff also shared tips on how to avoid counterfeit bills. Stay tuned for more after-hours events at other business locations this year.

Rushford Postmaster Monica Bjork  and Jane Ferrian, U.S. Postal Service Business Development Specialist out of Minneapolis, presented information on marketing tools offered by the postal service at the May 26 Chamber Member meeting. One method is Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), which permits mailed pieces up to 11"x17" to be mailed to every address in a zip code as "Local Postal Customer." For instance, mailing a card under 3.3 ounces to all 1,769 addresses in the 55971 and 55962 zip codes would cost $308 (about 17.4 cents per piece). The mailing can also be streamlined to go to just (1) residential, (2) PO boxes, (3) specific routes, or (4) business and residential addresses combined. EDDM is available to anyone and does not require a bulk mail permit. Also, because there is no machining of EDDM, tabs on mailings are not necessary. Bjork talked about how the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce coordinated a collaborative coupon "shop local" EDDM mailing for its members. The cost of printing the piece and the mailing cost were shared by the businesses participating with each campaign. In addition to EDDM, Bjork and Ferrian also covered bulk mail permits, which are needed when a business or organization wants to mail to specific addresses. For bulk mailings, a 200-piece minimum is required and the entity must complete a one-time application ($215.00 fee) and pay an annual $215 fee. For more information on these or other methods, please stop by the post office and talk with Monica Bjork--it's a pleasure to have her in the Rushford Peterson Valley! Thank you to Chamber members that were able to join us for lunch and hear from the U.S. Postal Service.

Plan to attend the next Chamber Member meeting  on Thursday, June 30 at 10:00 a.m. at the Andor Wenneson Inn in Peterson. State Senator Jeremy Miller will attend to discuss what was or was not accomplished during the recent legislative session. Bring $5 for scrumptious pie from Burdey's Cafe and coffee or tea. Seating is limited, so respond to the Chamber office by June 27 if you will attend. 

Valley Doe sold since the holiday season totals nearly $1 ,300! The "shop local" certificates have been purchased for appreciation gifts for employees, coaches, teachers, and religious education instructors and for birthdays or anniversaries. Support this shop local effort and consider Valley Doe for your gift-giving!

Promoting the many assets of the Rushford Peterson Valley! Most recently, the Chamber Board of Directors approved an advertisement in the July issue of the Iowa Sportsman's magazine, with 35,000 subscribers and thousands more distributed at the Iowa State Fair in August. Our ad coincides with Explore Minnesota Tourism's paid editorial regarding fishing in our part of the state. The ad was paid for through the lodging tax funds collected by the City of Rushford and City of Peterson. 

Root River Trail Towns' second annual 60-mile Garage Sale is June 24-25. There is no cost to have your sale added to the event's Google Map and Facebook promotion, so plan to have your garage sale as part of this event and contact Jen Hengel at the Chamber or Gail Boyum to put it on the map!  The Trail Towns' first annual Bluff Country Bluff & Valley Bike Tour will take place July 8-10. Already, 50 bicyclists have registered for this ride, which will stop for lunch in Rushford on Sunday, July 10. Stay tuned for additional details as the dates approach. 

The Rushford Area Historical Society is seeking help at the Rushford Depot Museum. Please click here for details on paid and volunteer opportunities!
Rushford Peterson Valley Farmers Market
The local farmers market kicks off its 2016 season on  Wednesday, June 1 from 4:00-6:30 p.m. at a new location--the Rushford Historic Depot--and with a new manager, Jessica Heiden. Patricia Thompson will support the market as a co-manager as well. We thank Jessica and Patti  for tak ing on these
Jessica Heiden has taken on the role of market manager for the 2016 season.
volunteer roles to begin the market's 4th year of offering reside
nts and visitors locally grown or produced items. The market is looking for additional vendors, so contact Jessica or Patti if you're interested in becoming a vendor.  Read the full story in this week's Tri-County Record.  Visit the market's website or Facebook for updates or contact details.
Upcoming Events

June 1, 4-6:30 p.m.
RP Valley Farmers Market @ Rushford Historic Depot
June 4, 8-10:30 a.m.
Mason's Pancake Breakfast @ Masonic Lodge
June 11, 9:30-10:30 registration 


June 24-25 
Root River Trail Towns 60-mile Garage Sale

June 30, 10 a.m.
Chamber Member meeting w/ Senator Jeremy Miller @ Andor Wenneson Inn

July 10-31, Sunday
evenings 5-7 p.m.
Live Music at the Peterson Bandstand

July 11-17

Member Business of the Month: Semcac
Semcac is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The agency has had its headquarters in Rushford since its founding in 1966.  Semcac is a non-profit
Community Action Agency with multiple programs and services that fulfill the agency's mission: To assist people to achieve or maintain independence and self-reliance through their own and community resources. There are 25 Community Action Agencies statewide and approximately 1,000 nationwide. Semcac has 287 employees across Southeast Minnesota, with 50 employees working from the agency's Rushford office and other Rushford sites, such as the Tenborg Center Senior Dining site and Food Shelf. Visit www.semcac.org for details on the many programs and services offered by the agency.  The Chamber recognizes Semcac as the Member Business of the Month, commending the agency's 50 years of serving residents of the Rushford Peterson Valley and beyond!
R ushford Peterson Valley Chamber of Commerce
Jen Hengel, Coordinator | 507-864-3338 or 507-458-6253
chamber@rushfordpetersonvalley.com | www.RushfordPetersonValley.com