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river heights chamber of commerce

Protect our Local Business Community and Tax Payer – City Ordinances

Nicole Bengtson
Advocacy & Public Policy, Editorials

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul  (March 2018)– Over the last few years, the urban core centers of Minnesota have been the target for aggressive city ordinances by progressive advocacy groups that do not conform to state rules and regulations.  Instead of introducing and passing legislative items at the federal and state branches of government, these groups have focused their policy efforts at local municipalities to pass ordinances.

This movement began in New York and California to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.  This effort, “Fight for $15,” became the launching pad to expand local wage increase ordinances along with additional workplace regulations such as scheduling, sick leave and safe leave.  In 2015, Minneapolis was the first city in Minnesota to introduce and pass sick and safe leave regulations, and 15.00 per hour minimum wage without any carve-outs for tipped employees.

Saint Paul has passed its own version of sick and safe regulations and is now considering a $15.00 minimum wage without any consideration for tipped employees.  As the President of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, a local Chamber that borders the urban core, I’m on the front lines to defend my business community and other Chambers of Commerce in the metro, regional marketplace.   Patchwork regulations forced upon the business community is simply not good for our current commerce and certainly not helpful to attract new businesses to the region.

Groups that are proposing these types of local ordinances have strategically targeted municipalities where they are politically aligned and can force these mandates without the proper scrutiny for the public and elected officials to consider.   In November of 2017, the Minneapolis Star Tribune revealed that the city of Minneapolis lacks the funds to fully enforce the new labor laws that were passed.

On a state level, a fiscal review and note are produced when new legislation is being introduced and debated.  This helps in identifying what the impact will be to enforce the proposed law and what it will cost those who will be affected by it.  Unfortunately, special interest groups are aware that local governments do not have the same review process and the taxpayer might only learn of the cost after the ordinance is changed, when it’s too late.

Local chambers of commerce and municipalities need to be aware of this targeted effort and be prepared to have a thoughtful conversation in advance of proposals reaching our community.  I plan to sit down with our local officials to begin these discussions and make sure all the information is considered before entertaining a special interest group from outside of our community’s plan to target our area and leave us to pick up the bill.  Please contact me to share your thoughts on this issue by contacting the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer-driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

February 2018 Member Spotlight: Hardline Concrete & Masonry

Editorials, Marketing, Member Spotlight

Jon Dietrich, of Hardline Concrete & Masonry, has been in the industry for over 20 years, and started Hardline over 13 years ago! Not only has Hardline been in business for over 13 years, they have been a part of the River Heights Chamber for 4 years. Hardline started as a sole proprietor in 2005, doing mainly commercial and industrial work. When incorporating in 2009, they shifted business to completing more residential and decorative work.

While they are grateful for fundamental commercial work, they feel their true passion lies with being able to help customers create their artistic vision for their own yard and home. Jon has an artistic side that helps him think outside the box and give customers innovative ideas that work in the Minnesota climate. Jon and Brenda pride themselves in doing the job correctly the first time and being primarily a referral-based business; they contribute many of their referrals to being a part of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce. They form great relationships with their customers. When working so closely with the customer to get them what they want, customers become grateful for the service. Jon talked about how many customers even make food for the crew. When asked what the crew’s favorite food was he said, “Anything the customers make is always great! I have had customers grill us hamburgers and make homemade french fries, those meals are always the best.”

They treat every job as if it was their own when they leave their Hardline logo stamped in the concrete. When Hardline was asked how they came up with their logo, Jon replied, “Following in my father’s footsteps to work in the same line of work was hard. Losing my dad at a young age didn’t secure me the guidance most people get from taking over a family business, causing me to make many mistakes along the way. It was like a hard line in the sand. That’s where the name comes from. Regarding the logo my buddy and I put it together. I used red because it was my dad’s favorite color and the color of his first car.”

Not only does Hardline Concrete & Masonry care about their customers’ needs they also care about their employees’ needs. Employee relations are important at Hardline. Every employee is treated like family. They know how hard the work can be. They put policies in place to keep their employees safe, as well as keep their customers safe and free of potential liability. Some policies they have implemented are a drug screening and zero tolerance drug policy, as well as a healthy work policy. Hardline appreciates the hard work done by employees so they offer job bonuses based on work expectations. They even offer full-time employees hour long massages ever 2 weeks!

Hardline Concrete & Masonry believes in small businesses succeeding and has recommended five other sole proprietors, LLCs and corporations to join the River Heights Chamber of Commerce for continued success. Brenda is very active in the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, currently serving as the 2018 Chair of the Board, and has served 1.5 years as the Ambassador chair, 1 year as Ambassador chair-elect and has been a Board member since 2015. Brenda also has served as a delegate for MN at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Summit 2015, received the River Heights Chamber Marshall award during the 2016 membership drive and was a member of the South Metro Business PAC in 2016. When Hardline was asked about an impactful moment that they would consider their greatest win, Brenda said, “Being nominated for the River Heights Chamber’s Small Business of the Year Award, it was an honor and a huge win because being recognized by a group of your peers is a great feeling.” The River Heights Chamber was proud to honor Hardline with the award and is proud to have Hardline Concrete & Masonry as a dedicated member of the business community!

Watch their Member Spotlight video here.

River Heights Chamber Announces Award Winners

Nicole Bengtson
Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce will be celebrating its 115th Annual Meeting on Thursday, February 15, 2018, starting at 11:30 a.m. at Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights. The luncheon will honor our leaders of 2017, welcome our new Chairman for 2018, and recognize the Chamber’s 2018 Business of the Year, 2017 Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence, 2017 Rising Star and 2017 Ambassador of the Year.

Brenda Dietrich, 2018 Chair of the Board, will be honoring the Chamber’s outgoing 2017 Chairman, Jon Erickson, and taking us into our year of celebrating a “115-year solid foundation.” When asked about what she’s excited about being the Chair of the Chamber this year, Brenda shared, “Having the opportunity to get to know more businesses in the Chamber [in more detail], what makes them tick, what are some challenges they face and how the Chamber can help out, that’s what I’m excited to do.  Also, with it being the 115th Anniversary this year, I think it’s a great time to reflect on the benefits of the Chamber. To have a renewed push towards the value of membership and how the Chamber has evolved over the last century to advocate for commerce. I am excited, energetic and committed to working with our members to achieve the goals set before us.”



The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is proudly announcing that Deerwood Bank of Mendota Heights will receive the River Heights Chamber’s 2018 Business of the Year Award on February 15th. Deerwood Bank was established in 1910 in Deerwood, Minnesota. It served the lumber and resort community for 68 years before adding a second branch in nearby Garrison in 1978. In 2015, Deerwood Bank acquired the former American Bank of St. Paul, effectively doubling the size of the Bank and adding locations in the Twin Cities Metro Area.  “At Deerwood Bank, we have helped businesses grow and prosper for over 100 years by providing superior services to our customers and communities we serve. Our goal is to help our customers reach their goals. Our business philosophies are based on the belief that, to be a successful community bank, we must be committed to our communities and have a unique ability to know and serve our markets.” stated Ross Dahlin, Assistant Vice President of Business Banking at Deerwood Bank.

The Chamber is also honored to announce, Rick Hansen as its 2017 Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence Award recipient. Rick truly exceeds in all criteria for this award, which encompass a commitment to the betterment of life, business, community and entrepreneurship for the River Heights region.  He has spent much of his life being a champion of the environment. Graduating from the Upper Iowa University and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1985. He continued his education and received a Master of Science degree in Soil Management from Iowa State University. In 2004, Rick resigned his positions with MDA and SWCD when he was elected to the Minnesota Legislature where he serves as the Minnesota State Representative for District 52A representing South St Paul, West St. Paul, Mendota Heights, Mendota and Lilydale. Rick is committed to his community, state and family and committed to doing what is right. During his time at the legislature, he has authored and championed a variety of bills, and in our business community Rick has been actively involved in the Chamber’s South St. Paul Local Issues committee and instrumental in many community projects.

The Rising Star will also be awarded at the Annual Meeting on February 15. This award is given to a volunteer who has accelerated in their first few years as a Chamber volunteer by displaying leadership, enthusiasm and passion for the Chamber’s mission.  The Ambassador of the Year Award, that is given to an individual Chamber Ambassador who earns the most points throughout the year for their volunteerism within the Chamber, will be announced then too, so stay tuned!

Special thanks to our current event sponsors Waterous Company and Town Square Television, as well as major sponsor Deerwood Bank. To attend the Annual Meeting or see more details as they arise for the Feb. 15th event, please visit the event page at www.riverheights.com/annualmeeting.

For more details about the Chamber’s award winners, please watch their videos to come to the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/riverheightschamber.

Register Now for the River Heights Chamber’s 115th Annual Meeting

Nicole Bengtson
Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

River Heights Chamber 115th Annual Meeting Invitation

Register Today!

Harrison Smith Joins Paul Allen for Big Game Gala ‘Halftime’ Show

Nicole Bengtson
Editorials, Event News, Marketing, Social Media

Posted Dec 6, 2017
Credit: Craig Peters, vikings.com

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Harrison Smith is used to going full-throttle for four quarters, but on Tuesday night, the Vikings safety was part of the “halftime” show.

Smith joined “Voice of the Vikings” Paul Allen for an on-stage chat between meal courses as the River Heights Chamber of Commerce held a “Big Game Gala” at the JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America.

As Allen was introducing Smith to the crowd, he mentioned fielding variations of the same question from guests about how what’s been a good season so far might conclude.

“I have no idea where this ends, where this 10-2 is going to go,” said Allen, who is in his 16th year of covering the team.

He said this year’s team is “unique” from any that he’s seen in more than a decade and a half. Allen expressed optimism and encouraged the enjoyment of every moment down the final stretch.

“Just enjoy it every single week, and we’ll see where it goes,” Allen said.

Smith, sharply dressed in a suit and tie, hopped up on the stage and immediately drew ribbing from Allen for not wearing socks, which Smith attributed to a fashion tip from fellow safety Andrew Sendejo.

Smith said the Vikings haven’t looked beyond Sunday’s meeting with the Panthers and explained how the approach goes beyond the one-game-at-a-time cliché.

“I think everyone remembers being pretty excited when we started 5-0 and ended up 8-8 last year, so that’s kind of a learning experience of what not to do,” Smith said. “I think that helps, as far as not getting ahead of ourselves.

“Also, I think the biggest thing is we have a group of guys that really enjoys playing football, which sounds kind of silly because we’re getting paid to play a child’s game, which is the best-case scenario, so how could you not love it? But for some guys, it can get kind of monotonous, the grind of every week,” Smith continued. “Around the league, that’s just how it is. That’s not how it is here. This team loves football, and I think it’s easy to go one day at a time when you love what you’re doing.”

Smith said he thinks Xavier Rhodes is “the best” cornerback in the league. When asked by Allen if Sendejo is wild or calculated, he explained how the safety is using a “weird mix of both” successfully.

Two other highlights from Allen’s Q&A included:

On Anthony Barr:

“He’s one of those guys you look at who is supremely talented,” Smith said. “He can run with anybody, is big and strong and can play multiple positions, and he also calls our defenses and gets us aligned. He’s kind of the one who says, you know, he kind of gets us going when we give up a couple of plays here and there, he says, ‘All right guys, time to stop messing around.’ He’s been a force for us.”

On Case Keenum:

“He just has this moxie about him, so it’s definitely not arrogant, but he just has a lot of self-confidence where you know he has it and he doesn’t have to tell you about it,” Smith said. “This quarterback situation, where we have three guys that have all at some point in their career been playing top-notch, you just don’t see that a lot around the league. Most teams can’t find one. If that’s the problem we have, I’ll take it.”

Allen opened the session to questions from the crowd, and one guest asked his thoughts of U.S. Bank Stadium.

“Normally players don’t get to see a lot of stadiums,” Smith said. “We just see the locker room and the field, but this one, I think, has honestly surpassed every player’s expectation. Last year, we kind of went in and played. It was awesome and loud, especially for the defense. It looks beautiful in the city, as well.

“In the offseason, when we had more time to come back to events that were held there, we really appreciated from more of the fan side of it, how many different areas and things are there that can be put to use,” Smith continued. “I got to go to the X-Games and thought that was the coolest thing.

“There’s not a ton of home-field advantages in the NFL,” Smith added. “That’s more of a college football thing, but in my opinion, I think we have the best home-field advantage.”

Vikings Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Lester Bagley provided an update on the team’s future headquarters, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, which is scheduled for completion on March 1.

Bagley said 220 workers from 38 contractors, including 34 Minnesota-based companies, are working on the headquarters that also will be able to host youth and high school sports and other events.

“It’s really a community asset,” Bagley told attendees. “Our vision is to share it with the community and partner not only with high school sports but our Minnesota Vikings Foundation.”

Smith, who attended the formal groundbreaking of TCO Performance Center in summer 2016, said he enjoyed learning about the site’s progress and chatting with guests about the Vikings season and Minnesota hosting Super Bowl LII in less than two months.

“It was great to see how excited the community is about [TCO Performance Center] and how excited the businesses are for Minnesota hosting the Super Bowl,” Smith said. “You can tell how excited the community is, how much pride the people have in the Vikings and what the organization means to them. That adds even more respect for our fans and the organization that I’m fortunate to play for.”

Local band Highwood (featuring Jon Erickson, Kelton Glewwe, Steve Snelling, Steve Sorenson and Lee Swenson) concluded the evening with live music.

Click here to see photos from the Big Game Gala

Click here to see post from Vikings

Who’s On the River Heights Chamber’s Most Wanted List? How Can You Help?

Nicole Bengtson
Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

Click on the image to see the Top 10 Most Wanted Businesses in Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul to apprehend during the River Heights Chamber’s Most Wanted Membership Campaign and learn the Top 5 Reasons to Join the Chamber!

Have a hot lead? Report any info to the Chamber Tipline at 651.451.2266 ext. 1032 or email here!

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer-driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

Read more about what businesses can get from a Chamber of Commerce here.

10,000 Business Grant – Dakota County Business Recycling Grant

Nicole Bengtson
Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials, Marketing

The County is currently offering almost any business in Dakota County up to $10,000 plus technical assistance and training to employees, for companies to increase recycling, renovate their dumpster enclosures, purchase new bins, or begin collecting organics for composting.

“I truly can’t think of a down-side to this grant,” says Cassandra Schueller, Recycling Coordinator for Dakota County. The County partnered with Waste Wise which is an organization that helps businesses reach their diversion goals.

Show your stakeholders and community you’re committed to a healthier environment.

Your business plays an important role in helping keep our air, water and land clean. A robust recycling program says you mean business when it comes to conserving our natural resources and demonstrating your organization’s commitment to sustainability and your community. And, recycling more may help your bottom line.

For most businesses in Dakota County it’s the law to recycle at least three materials such as paper, glass, plastic, metal and organics including food waste and non-recyclable paper.

Dakota County has resources to help your business – check them out here: BusinessRecyclingProgramHandout

Learn more about the Dakota County Business Recycling Program Grant here

Public Comment Period for Dakota County’s Draft Solid Waste Master Plan: Now to Dec 1.

Nicole Bengtson
Advocacy & Public Policy, Editorials

From Environmental Resources Department, Dakota County Physical Development Division:

Dakota County is developing its Solid Waste Master Plan to identify strategies to achieve state goals, including a 75 percent recycling rate by 2030.  The County is accepting comments on the draft plan through December 1.

The draft Dakota County Solid Waste Master Plan is now available for your review. Residents, businesses, municipalities, schools, and waste industry representatives are invited to provide comments on the Draft Master Plan through December 1. Dakota County would like to hear from businesses and organizations specifically about proposed trash and recycling strategies

 Comments can be:

  • Emailed to wasteless@co.dakota.mn.us, or
  • Mailed to Dakota County Environmental Resources Department, Attn: Renee Burman, 14955 Galaxie Avenue, Apple Valley, MN 55124

The draft plan includes educational, financial and regulatory approaches to implement a variety of tactics and increases accountability among all stakeholders. Strategies in the draft plan were developed based on feedback gathered during the County’s stakeholder engagement process, and incorporate required approaches identified in the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Metropolitan Solid Waste Policy Plan.  More than 1,500 residents, business and industry representatives, cities and schools officials, and other stakeholders provided input on solid waste issues and potential strategies over the past year.

Big Game Gala

Nicole Bengtson
Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

You’re Invited to Attend for an Exclusive Game Day Experience

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce wants to invite the community and their friends and colleagues to participate in the Big Game Gala presented in partnership with the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, at the JW Marriott at Mall of America in Bloomington.  The event will be held from 6-10 p.m. and include confirmed featured guests Minnesota Vikings #22 Harrison Smith and Paul Allen of KFAN, as well as executives from the Minnesota Vikings!

We know that everyone won’t be able to attend Super Bowl LII, but everyone can participate in the celebration at the Big Game Gala,” excitedly announced Jennifer Gale, President of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce and Progress Plus Economic Development Foundation.  The Big Game Gala’s vision is to foster excitement, engagement, and awareness within the River Heights community of the positive impact the Minnesota Vikings bring to our region by hosting Super Bowl LII and relocating their headquarters and practice facilities to the area.

“We are excited to partner with the Minnesota Vikings to bring this exclusive event to our members and community partners.  At the Big Game Gala, we will hear more about the opening of the new Vikings facility in Eagan and Super Bowl LII being hosted by Minneapolis in 2018.  Our hope is to bring business leaders, their families and employees together for an evening of fun, all while enjoying a “Big Game” dining experience,” shared Michele Hein, Gala Chair, River Heights Chamber Board Member.

At a glance, a ticket gets you into the following evening’s activities:
6:00 p.m. – Pre-Game with Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders
7:00 p.m. – Kick-Off Dinner
Half-Time – Features special guests Minnesota Viking Harrison Smith and KFAN’S Paul Allen, as well as Minnesota Vikings executives providing a sneak peek into Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
Post-Game Entertainment by local band Highwood (Jon Erickson, Kelton Glewwe, Steve Snelling, Steve Sorenson and Lee Swenson).

Cocktail or business attire is recommended. Tickets are $150 per person, and discounted reserved tables of 8 and VIP Experience tickets are also available.  RSVP by Monday, November 27, 2017. Payment is due upon registration. Cancellation Policy: No refunds for reservations canceled within 72 hours of event date.

To get your Big Game Gala ticket or to see more details as they unfold, please visit the Chamber’s website at www.riverheights.com/biggamegala or call the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266 extension 1037.

Book your group rate for River Heights Chamber of Commerce Gala

This is a photo of Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings NFL football team. This image reflects the Minnesota Vikings active roster as of Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo)

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is a business organization who aggressively promotes the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer-driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members. Visit our website www.riverheights.com to learn more!

Stay Connected with the River Heights Chamber on our social media sites!



A Consideration for All Business Owners

Nicole Bengtson
Business Ideas, Editorials, Marketing

What Can You Get from a Chamber of Commerce?

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul If you are a small business owner and have a few dollars left to spare as the year wraps up, how do you choose where to invest it?  If you have been on the fence about joining a chamber of commerce, here are some things to consider…

A Chamber of Commerce is a group that is dedicated to protecting and promoting the local business community. Does that mission align with your values when you started your business?  What’s its primary goal? To help business owners network and grow.

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce has a good reputation, and many consumers have positive perceptions of members and their businesses.  In fact, you may be interested to know that according to a 2012 study conducted by the Schapiro Group, 49% of consumers were more likely to think favorably of a local business if it was a member of its local Chamber — and 80% were more likely to purchase a product or service from a Chamber member.

The average cost of membership depends on the size and number of employees your business has. Many small business memberships fall into the $30 per month range.  That’s not a lot, considering the monthly benefits you receive.

If you ask around, you will hear that most members think their membership is worth it, and they will remind you that you get what you put in — that means attending events, volunteering and getting involved.  Overall, most business owners feel a Chamber of Commerce membership is a must-have. There aren’t many cons — it’s an affordable group that will foster immediate connections and promote your business.

Chambers of Commerce are still relevant despite advancements in technology and online networking. The River Heights Chamber members receive numerous promotional perks, exclusive advertising and networking options and additional exposure for their companies or organizations.

The Chamber of Commerce isn’t a magical business solution where you’ll see immediate ROI. No matter what, you’ll have to work hard to get what you want out of it. Yet, if you are a small business owner, you already know that because you take the risk every day.  Thank you to all the business owners in the River Heights region!