Industry of the Year
THUMBS UP: Congratulations to Upper Midwest Management, Inc., which was honored this week as the New Ulm Chamber's Business/Industry of the Year. The packed banquet room on Thursday at the Industry Appreciation Banquet was a testament to the friendships Jim Thomas and his staff have developed over the years.
As Thomas noted, Upper Midwest's clients are not, for the most part, from New Ulm, "but New Ulm is our community." Upper Midwest backs that up with an outstanding record of community support in many, many different ways.
Upper Midwest is a great group of people, and their accomplishments and service have earned them this award.
THUMBS UP: Over the past several years The Grand Hotel building in New Ulm has overgone - and is undergoing - a tremendous transformation from a past-its-prime, decaying building to a vibrant center for entertainment and the arts. The vision of Anne Makepeace and her family, whose ancestor, Phillip H. Gross, originally built the hotel, was to restore it visually and convert it into a place where music, art, and theater could flourish.
This week the family gifted the building to a new entity that includes the non-profit Center for the Arts in New Ulm that will own and operate the center.
This is a Grand gift to the community indeed, and will stimulate interest and talent in the city for a long time to come. Thank you to the Makepeace/Gross family.
MLC Early Childhood
THUMBS UP: Martin Luther College announced its new project, an Early Childhood Learning Center that will be built on the site of its current center. Early Childhood Learning is an important and growig part of MLC's education program, and the new center will give Early Childhood Education students better opportunities to complete their majors, and will provide education and day care for up 90 or more children in the community.
This is a great addition for MLC and for the city.
SIDEWAYS THUMB: The announcement by Kraft Foods that it is going to be restructuring production lines in three plants, including New Ulm, is the proverbial good news/bad news scenario.
The bad news, of course, is that the restructuring will mean the loss of 90 full-time equivalent jobs at the New Ulm Kraft plant - 80 hourly positions and 10 salaried positions. The good news is that Kraft is investing some $25 million in the New Ulm plant to set up the product lines that will be coming in.
How does that balance out? In the short run, losing 90 jobs is hard on the community, even if they could be cut mostly through attrition and early retirement. In the long run, if these changes solidify Kraft's presence in New Ulm and especially if it prepares the local plant for future growth, it would be beneficial. But we don't know how long before any advances would make up for the losses.
Taking backward steps is never easy.