ePrairie Changes Name To MidwestBusiness.com

I have been a subscriber of the newly named MidwestBusiness.com daily email on Midwest business news for many years. They also have really good daily articles of their own. I prefer the weekly networking tips (most of which I already know and practice but serves as a good reminder) and Raising Minnesota written by John Katsantonis.


Below are some of the best since April:


Stand Out in Networking Circles By Becoming a Subject Matter Expert


Perspective Following BIO 2006: The Midwest as Innovation Central?


Eight Midwest Tech Researchers Recognized By MIT in Honor Roll


Q&A: Intellext CEO Al Wasserberger on Smart Bet Charity Poker


How to Turn Simple Networking Snafus Into Effective Techniques


MidwestBusiness.com: Midwest Technology Business News


Book Shows How Upstart Computer Company Beat IBM at Own Game


Indiana Gov. Daniels Announces $105 Million Venture Capital Fund


New Book From Former CDC CEO Walks Readers Through Innovation


Midwest Retains Dominant Role in World Medical Device Market


Perfect Simple Business Networking Gestures With Practice, Patience


Former CDC CEO Price Walks Techies Through Seven Steps of Innovation


‘Freakonomics’: Incentives Are Cornerstone of Modern Life For Entrepreneurs


Leverage the Power of Sports For Summer Business Networking


A Time to Make Friends: More Partnerships in Biotech, Med Tech?

State Of Minnesota Places Call For Techie Help

Citizens of this fine state are getting a glimpse into how far behind state government has fallen in upgrading technology. Minnesota asks industry to lend it some free 'geeks', free?


I would hope that the big shops and consulting firms in town are willing to help out but they would be making a significant contribution:


The senior professionals being sought often are billed to clients at rates ranging from $150 to $250 an hour, said one information technology vendor that has looked at the program.


"That'll separate the men from the boys, certainly," said another vendor, Richard Winkelmann of CA International, a New York-based IT firm.


Winkelmann attended a meeting with state officials last week about the loan program and called it "an exciting opportunity to put someone at the table with the chief information officer to help set strategy for the state of Minnesota." But he said it's been a tough sell to his corporate bosses.


"I've spent a week lobbying CA to come forward with resources," Winkelmann said. "Uncorking someone is a challenge. We're not there yet."


A tough sell? Uh, yeah I think so…

ePrecis, A Better Search Engine Than Google?

In the April edition of Twin Cities Business is a story on page 42 titled “The Google Stalker”. Unfortunately Twin Cities Business does not post their content online or I would link it here.


This is a story of a Minnesota man named Arnie Schultz and it starts in the 1960’s at the University of Minnesota where he was a student. He got a job at the medical school to “electronically index complex medical abstracts alphabetically and by category.”


This was his entry into a lifetime of “assigning numerical weight to every word in the English language in order to perform more useful, contextually correct electronic text searches and summaries.”


This work has resulted in a software program and now search engine called ePrecis.


The article goes into how the software works but essentially instead of searching for words or phrases words are assigned numerical weight and context. It’s much more complicated than that, I really wish this article were online, as I cannot adequately describe how it works.


ePrecis was written about in a post on ZDNet ePrecis - next generation search and at Online Marketing Blog, ePrecis an impressive search tool.


A group of Minnesota investors at a local incubator ZH Computer own ePrecis. According to the article ZH Computer is in discussions with Google, Microsoft, IBM, Yahoo, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and West Publishing to work on licensing agreements.


I am going to send this post on to my friends at Recruiting.com. I started using this instead of Google last week as I have found long word searches are more reliable than on Google. I am curious what my colleagues think.

Federal Reserve Beige Book Released, Good Employment News

Today the Fed released their latest Beige Book. Last time I did one of these posts I was asked what the Beige Book is. My response was the latest report on local and national economic activity.


For a more academic definition, try this:

The Beige Book is released two weeks prior to each FOMC meeting eight times per year. Each Federal Reserve bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its district through reports from bank and branch directors and interviews with key businessmen, economists, market experts, and other sources. The Beige Book summarizes this information by district and sector.


From the 9th District-Minneapolis Summary:

The Ninth District economy grew at a solid pace since the last report. Increases in activity were noted in consumer spending, manufacturing, tourism, mining, agriculture, construction, and commercial real estate. Meanwhile, residential real estate softened. Overall employment levels and wages increased modestly. Significant price increases were noted in gasoline and some construction materials.


On Employment, Wages and Prices:

Overall employment levels increased modestly since the last report. According to a survey of Minneapolis-St. Paul companies by a temporary staffing agency, 29 percent of respondents expect to increase staffing levels during the second quarter, while 9 percent expect decreases. Montana bank directors reported tight labor market conditions in many areas. March initial claims for unemployment insurance were flat from a year ago in Minnesota.


From the National Summary:

Reports from all twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicate that economic activity continued to expand in March and the first half of April. Three Districts--Minneapolis, Kansas City, and San Francisco--characterize growth as "solid," while a number of others describe the rate of economic activity as "modest," "moderate," or "steady." Richmond notes a quicker pace of growth, and Dallas indicates that activity continued to strengthen. By contrast, New York says the rate of growth may have slipped a bit since the last report.


On Prices and Wages:

District reports from Boston, New York, Richmond, Kansas City, and Dallas say that labor markets are tightening, especially for skilled positions. Philadelphia, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Atlanta indicate that labor markets remain tight in at least some parts of their Districts. Contacts in Atlanta, Richmond, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Dallas state that truck drivers are in short supply. Wages continue to move up, but only a few Districts--New York, Dallas, and Kansas City--mention a pickup in the pace of raises, while Philadelphia cites firms more often paying in the high end of salary ranges. Richmond reports no pickup, but a continuation of "brisk" wage increases in services. Boston says manufacturing wage increases are in the same range as last year, Chicago cites a steady pace of labor cost increases, and Cleveland notes no reports of accumulating wage pressure, while Minneapolis and San Francisco mention moderate overall wage increases.

Cyberstates 2006 Released, High Tech Employment And Exports See Increases

Today the AeA released its 9th annual report Cyberstates 2006: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry. If you are a member the survey costs $95. If not, $195.

Some of the Minnesota highlights:

-Technology products exported 2004, $5.1 billion.

-Technology products exported 2005, $6.1 billion.

-#1 in the Midwest.

-#7 in the U.S.

-2004 high tech jobs, 125,400. An increase of 400.

-Average annual wage, $67,300.

Some of the national highlights:

-U.S. high-tech employment totaled 5.6 million in 2005, up by 61,100, or by one percent.

-California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Virginia led the nation in high tech employment in 2004.

-U.S. high-tech exports totaled $199 billion in 2005, up by four percent.

Good news for the national employment numbers as 2002 – 2004 saw declines.

Local Blog Gets National Nod

The press release below is the same text as was sent out this morning but without the bold, italics, and consistent font and size.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          

December 21, 2005                             


Paul DeBettignies    

MN Headhunter



Local Blog Gets National Nod

MN Headhunter blog offers local business news, employment stats and career trends in addition to connecting local nonprofits and IT organizations

Minneapolis, MN -- A blog written by a Twin Cities IT Headhunter, Paul DeBettignies, has been nominated for a national award. His blog has gained further national attention after it was nominated as the Best Third Party Blog on Recruiting.com, “A Recruiting Blog Community Portal”.  The public can vote at www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=622441607077 in ten categories and choose from more than sixty nominations until December 21. 

DeBettignies, Managing Partner of e-Strategies Group Inc., a Twin Cities based third party IT recruiting firm, has been writing the MN Headhunter blog www.mnheadhunter.com since May of 2005.  Blog topics include local business news, employment statistics, and career trends. 

Additionally, the MN Headhunter blog has a volunteer page www.mnheadhunter.com/vol that offers nonprofits a chance to advertise their technology needs and IT organizations the opportunity to connect with these local nonprofits. 

DeBettignies started writing MN Headhunter after reviewing his business and marketing plan and deciding it was time to make some changes including the corporate name and new web site.

“In the mean time the MN Headhunter blog has been a good avenue for candidates, clients, and the general public to get to know me better. A corporate web site can give you the facts but a blog allows for more of a connection.”

A major focus for DeBettignies has been working to capitalize on blog traffic and his own network to connect volunteers with the technology needs of local non-profits.

“The past few weeks I have been developing a plan to further build an active network of corporations, consulting groups, independent contractors, and college students who would volunteer on a one time or continuing basis with non-profits seeking technology assistance,” he said.   

About MN Headhunter

The tag line for MN Headhunter is “Focusing on employment news, job search tips, promoting volunteerism within the IT Community, and a little Gopher football.” The site can be found at www.mnheadhunter.com.

About Recruiting.com

Recruiting.com, www.recruiting.com, is a group blog for employment and staffing best practices.  The site is a community for recruiters, HR Professionals, hiring managers and job-seekers to promote and discover the latest trends in online recruitment. 

A press release for the Recruiting.com 2005 Best Blog Awards can be found at, http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/12/prweb319291.htm.


Minnesota’s Job Growth In Question, Fed Forecasts Growth

Job growth figures in Minnesota have caused wide spread concern. Maybe caution is a better word. This article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press has a good take from both sides.

As I have said many times on this blog, I am a glass half full kind of guy. 3.9% unemployment? I remember when anything under 5.0% was considered “full employment”. I grant that if your one of those without a job or with a low paying job that this is bad news. We must continue putting people to work and increase skill levels to get folks into higher paying jobs.

Which gets me to the Minneapolis Fed release of its 2006 economic forecast. Two quotes from the release:

The economy in the Ninth Federal Reserve District is expected to continue expanding in 2006, despite concerns about higher energy and materials prices, and a likely slowing in home building and residential real estate. The Ninth District includes Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


The outlook for labor markets in 2006 is positive, reflecting expectations for increased economic growth… While a majority of respondents to the poll expect to increase employment at their companies, many are beginning to indicate difficulty finding qualified workers.

Once again we have language regarding the difficulty in finding skilled/qualified workers.

Looks like we need to do a better skills and job retraining.

Minneapolis Considering City Wide Wi-Fi

This fall John Katsantonis of ePrairie fame had a three part series, #1, #2, #3, on the proposed Wi-Fi in the City of Minneapolis. John also has good information on how the City of Chaska offers its service.

MPR has an update on its site.

There is a growing debate on how the system should be set up and who has ownership of it. Personally, I do not like government doing something I can do for myself whether they own/run it or not. I already have a high-speed connection at home and at work so I do not know that I would be a customer.

Saying that I do like the affordability of it and the hope that the “digital divide” is reduced. Now if someone could work on a program to get computers to low-income residents I would think this is a great idea. Without the ability to have a computer who needs connectivity?

This jury, being me, is still out…

Minneapolis #2, St. Paul Tied For #10 Most Literate Cities

It’s nice to have the ranking but maybe we just read more than other cities. How about test scores or other sociological data? I know Minnesota usually ranks high in literacy but these indicators seem, well, less serious to me.

Here’s the link to the study from Central Connecticut State University.