Writer: Eleana Teran
2 min read January 2023 – As the Twin Cities’ business community continues to evolve, local business leaders are sharpening their focus on their plans for the future. In interviews with Invest:, leaders from a diverse range of industries share their priorities, top concerns and strategies for assessing the changing needs of the community and meeting the demands of the local economy.
Paul Taunton, President & CEO, Business Impact Group
Paul Taunton, president & CEO of Business Impact Group, emphasizes the significance of being resilient, adaptable, innovative and flexible in order to strengthen the business environment in Minnesota. “If I were to pinpoint one challenge out there that should be very front of mind for all organizations it would be around maintaining and evolving their human capital. Everybody’s workforce is unique and different. Culture does not just happen. It takes consistent effort to build up a great corporate culture. My leadership style is that our train never really reaches the station. We can always do better. Sometimes what you want to do and what you can afford to do are not in alignment; timing is everything when it comes to evolution,” said Taunton.
“If you want to be successful in this space, you must make sure that your communications are clear and transparent to what the company’s goals and objectives are so that the employees feel like they are represented properly and their employer actually has their best interests at heart.”
Christine Schmidt, Managing Director, Trust Point Family Office
Guiding families through the economic landscape by identifying opportunities and ensuring financial security is key for Christine Schmidt, managing director of Trust Point Family Office. “Navigating the current economic landscape is about recognizing short-term and long-term opportunities. We are educating families about how this is just another cycle. It is about instilling confidence and letting them know that there are strategic options to make sure they are comfortable with their long-term objectives. We are adding value by taking advantage of opportunities and making sure that we have a diversified portfolio,” said Schmidt.
“We also look at opportunities within each of the entities that we’re managing — think about their foundation or philanthropic goals. We are going to make sure the funds are available to make grants, but with a longer opportunity to invest. We also can set aside funds with a different investment allocation for short-term needs. If there’s a business sale going on, we plan for the tax and expenses to make sure that the money is set aside safely but still generating a return.”
Darrel German, Minnesota Regional President, Huntington National Bank
Being a go-to bank and serving the community’s needs are top of mind for Darrel German, Minnesota regional president of Huntington National Bank. “I think it’s clear that the banking industry is changing pretty rapidly, and banks need to be nimble and customer-focused in order to succeed in the marketplace. There is a void in this marketplace and we believe Huntington can fill that void and add value every day to our entire region. That keeps us up at night; we want to be the best and we understand that people are in need across all spectrums. We want to be a provider whose clients can say, “Huntington was there in my hour of need,”” said German.
“To give back to the community, we rolled out an aggressive, corporate-wide $40 billion community plan that is focused on four key areas: social equity, community development, affordable housing and small businesses. To address some of the equity challenges impacting this region, we held a DEI summit and convened leaders and CEOs across the Twin Cities. As a result, we decided to focus our support on Black businesses because they have the greatest disparity in the region from a median-income standpoint. We partnered with the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce to help drive equity with a positive impact on Black businesses. My leadership team is also involved in several not-for-profit organizations that drive community progress across the region.”
Heath Bartness, CEO, St. Croix Hospice
For Heath Bartness, CEO of St. Croix Hospice, the integration of technology in hospice care is crucial for balancing the needs and resources of patients and their families. “Labor has become increasingly more expensive and probably rightfully so. The work these caregivers provide is extraordinary. We have to be increasingly savvy when it comes to technology as we want staff to work smarter, not harder. Some things can be done virtually or through electronic means, as opposed to the way we used to do things, but being able to provide hands-on care is still predominant,” said Bartness.
“There have been amazing advances, and we have evolved significantly. Our clinicians are in patients’ homes, taking care of them at their bedside. Artificial intelligence is giving us the ability to predict patient needs before they happen. We can be more efficient with patients, their families and clinicians. This connection is important and will help us to continue to move forward. Technology is a great benefit to hospice services, helping us relate to patients and their families. We have medical, physical, spiritual, social and emotional factors of well-being that we need to address. Through technology, we can achieve these vitally important goals of connection in various areas of need.”
Lauren Bennett McGinty, Executive Director, Explore Minnesota
Lauren Bennett McGinty, the executive director of Explore Minnesota, aims to make the state one of the top 10 travel destinations in the country by fostering an inclusive and hospitable atmosphere for all visitors. “We positioned our new strategic plan in a much different way than we had done previously. I wanted it to be focused on the people of Minnesota and the visitor economy. One of the biggest pieces is the growing Minnesota visitor economy. We believe that visitors of all kinds are important to Minnesota, both from within the state and from outside of the state. We wanted to talk about it in the sense that you’re visiting someone and you’re making an impact on the community, which is hugely important to the economy. We also wanted to focus on diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion, which goes into our next bucket area; to create a welcoming experience for all visitors. And we’ll be working more closely with other state agencies and tourism stakeholders to promote more sustainable travel practices.”
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