Insight News

Feb 10th


NBMBAA/Wells Fargo 2010 Entrepreneur Excellence Award

Wells Fargo and the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) created the NBMBAA/Wells Fargo Entrepreneur Excellence Award to recognize and empower the visionaries that are a vital component of our community. Each year, two business owners are recognized for their exceptional vision, leadership, innovation and determination, receiving national recognition and a grant of $5,000.

For more information or to apply for the 2010 Award, please download the 2010 NBMBAA/Wells Fargo Entrepreneur Excellence Award Application (PDF) by visiting

To learn more about African American Business Services, contact,
or DIAL 1-800-35-WELLS (1-800-359-3557).


Grants support business districts

Minneapolis this week approved $578,175 in grants to business districts through the City’s Great Streets neighborhood business district program. The grants will assist business districts throughout the city with technical assistance such as branding and marketing, merchandising, business recruitment, and design services.

Understanding Medicare a complicated process

Most people are somewhat familiar with Medicare, since it's likely they or a family member are already covered by the government-provided health insurance program. But with its alphabet soup of options and complex rules, Medicare can be daunting to the uninitiated.

If you're approaching 65, here are some Medicare basics you'll need to know:

Medicare provides benefits to people age 65 and older and those under 65 with certain disabilities or end-stage renal disease. Most people's initial enrollment period is the seven months beginning three months before the month they turn 65. If you miss that window, you may enroll between January 1 and March 31 each year, with coverage beginning July 1.

US Census takers start visiting households

The U.S. Census Bureau began "Non-Responsive Follow-Up" Operations on May 1st with the 28% of households in the U.S. who did not return their questionnaire by mail.  Census takers will visit a household several times in an effort to get the basic information on the ten questions on the 2010 Census.
When a census taker visits a home, he or she will try to collect the information by interviewing an adult member of the household. If a census taker cannot contact a household after repeated attempts, they will seek information in any way possible to estimate the number of people living in the home.

Dennis R. Johnson, Regional Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, stated, “I encourage the public to cooperate with census takers when they are working in your neighborhood. The 2010 Census is not yet completed and this work is vital to our efforts to get a complete and accurate count of everyone living in your community.”

Work life boundaries: Nothing is personal

Work life boundaries: Nothing is personalDuring busy season, Karen’s company keeps cots in a closet so employees can catch a nap while working all night on projects.  Lea’s best friends are the people she works with.  She doesn’t have time to forge friendships anywhere else.  Spending forty or fifty hours a week with a group of people for months or years at a time, it seems natural that you would become friends, or even like family, after a while.  But when is “close” too close?  Where is the line between personal and professional, when you work alongside the same people day in and day out?

Religion and politics have long been taboo in the workplace.  Yet, these topics are difficult to steer clear of because they often play a part in the news and TV shows we want to discuss, and because passion for a topic can override good judgement.  Use your own expectations to test whether to step into or walk away from a conversation.  Inviting your co-workers to a concert at your church might be acceptable; expecting them to meditate with you in the break room is not.  When others cross that line, have a comment ready to use to excuse yourself.  It can be simple, “I’d better get back to work.”  Say it politely, and then reinforce that boundary by walking away. 

Ellison bill empowers shareholders to rein in corporate compensation, abuse

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-5th Congressional District) told a hearing of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises that the corporate governance reform bill that he introduced (H.R. 3272) would increase the ability of investors to weigh in on company decisions.

The bill recognizes that as the owners of companies, stockholders should have a greater say in company affairs.  The bill is part of a broader legislative strategy to examine corporate structural relationships among shareholders, officers, and directors to generate improved profitability, manage executive compensation, and reduce risks to investors. 

“Financial regulatory reform must include enhanced consumer protection measures and new regulation of financial instruments such as derivatives.  But it also must address the potential causes of economic injustice at the root level by closely examining corporate structures,” Ellison said.  “For far too long, our corporate governance system has failed to adequately protect shareholders.  In the meantime unaccountable corporate officers and directors take excessive risks.”

“Executives should not be able to drive companies into the ground and walk away with millions. Shareholders, if given the opportunity to review executive compensation, would not allow this practice to continue,” Ellison said.  In addition to requiring shareholder approval of executive compensation, Ellison’s proposal mandates creation of corporate risk management committees, and requires the chairman of the board to be independent and not serve as an executive officer.

Executive Development Series features Mosaic Company’s James T. Prokopanko

Metropolitan Economic Development Association’s (MEDA) Executive Development Series next month presents James. T. Prokopanko, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Mosaic Company.

The Executive Development Series gives entrepreneurs and executives in communities of color the opportunity to interact with Twin Cities corporate leaders and successful entrepreneurs who share their experiences and expertise on leadership and management approaches that work.
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