COMMUNITY VOICES | Hmongtown Market drug raid: Not an issue of culture

On June 13th, authorities seized hundreds of pounds of cyanide, steroids, opiates and other mislabeled or unlabeled drugs from more than 15 vendors at a Hmong market in St. Paul. While some of the drugs were out in the open, they also found pills, syringes, and other drugs under curtains, inside baggies, and in unmarked containers. For years, the Federal Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) warned these vendors, but they still continued to sell these illegal drugs. Not only did this investigation make headlines in Minnesota, but the drug raid that happened at the Hmongtown Market this mid-June put into question the issue of the Hmong culture and legality in the United States. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | Yvonne Cheung Ho: Building a strong minority business community in Minnesota

Yvonne Cheung Ho came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1972. “I had a sister in Minnesota at the time,” Cheung Ho recalled. “She told me about Minnesota. She told me everything. But the only thing she didn’t mention was the winter!” Cheung Ho laughs.Today, as President and CEO of the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), Cheung Ho helps entrepreneurs of color, including immigrants, to succeed in Minnesota. This spring, she was honored by St. Mary’s University of Minnesota with the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership award.“She’s pretty inspirational,” said Lindsay McCabe, Executive Director of the Hendrickson Institute, “She’s an inspiring role model for women, especially young women.”Getting a start in businessCheung Ho came to Minnesota for higher education and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in business administration in December of 1975.After graduation, Cheung Ho found a job at IBM. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | Kathy Tunheim tells a new jobs story in Minnesota

CORRECTED 6/29/2012: A year and a half ago, Governor Mark Dayton asked Kathy Tunheim to serve as a senior adviser, working to generate a public discussion on jobs and job creation. Tunheim is the principal and CEO for Tunheim Associates, a public relations and media firm and is the president of IPREX, a worldwide network of public relations firms. Her job as senior adviser to the governor for job creation is a part-time, volunteer position.When asked what she and the administration hoped to accomplish, Tunheim said that they want to start a discussion that asks: “What do facts and analysis say about what will drive job growth and economic vitality in Minnesota; what kinds of jobs should Minnesota focus on creating and where is our competitive advantage; and what are the specific opportunities before us and how do we seize them?” One year later, said Tunheim, “We thought the most important thing was to listen.” Since January 2011, when Dayton took office, she and her colleagues working with the administration asked, “What are you seeing that is creating jobs? What’s working? What are the things that really get in the way?She said different parts of the state are facing different challenges and are facing different economies. “In the metropolitan urban core, there is a misalignment between the jobs that employers are trying to fill and what the skill sets are,” Tunheim said.  The challenge in northwest Minnesota  is quite different. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | What small business REALLY wants

Recently on TV there was a rerun of a popular movie produced in 2000: What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Very briefly, Gibson has “shocking” experience (literally) and is able to get into the “heads” of women and read their thoughts.  Not a great movie, but high grossing and of interest to me because it involved an advertising agency – my core profession for over 40 years. It also coincided with the continuing claims by many members of Congress about what needs to be done to assist small business, who will be the drivers of our economy to get us out of this funk.  Frankly their comments are inane, fictional, silly and inept.  Why? Because virtually none of them really know the dynamics of small business challenges, and consequently do not or can not get “into the heads” of true small business people.  Frankly, their statements are politically based, and have little to do with reality or an intelligent analytical basis of small business needs. The current Senate (where most of the nonsense resides) is made up of about 60% lawyers.  Only 9% (9 Senators) list their former occupation as “businessmen” and of those 9, several are suspect, and several others had experiences in businesses that would not be described as “small”.  Of the suspect ones, Jim DeMint (R. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Free-Trade Doctrine Takes (Another) Hit (A Book Review)

Bad Samaritans:  The Myth of Free-Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, by Ha-Joon Chang.  2008.  Bloomsbury Press. Free trade stifles economic development in poor countries, and disproportionately benefits the rich, powerful countries.  It was rampant protectionism, state-owned or -subsidized enterprises, other government assistance, and copying or theft of ideas, instead of adherence to intellectual property protection, that allowed nearly all of today’s powerful economies to develop to their positions of power.  So argues Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang in his 2008 book “Bad Samaritans:  The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism”. The book is a partial non-chronological history of economic development, explaining first how two of the largest economic empires of the last 500 years, Britain and the United States, contrary to the dogma of neoliberal free-marketeers (Chang’s “Bad Samaritans”), developed economically using militant protectionism to keep their infant industries from failing in competition with larger, more sophisticated industries of other nations.  Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. Continue Reading