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Thursday's Axios Twin Cities stories

Apr 8, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

As Twins fans return, a sign of hope for downtown Minneapolis

People are coming back downtown for baseball. Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Minnesota Twins, pending a possible rainout, are bringing 10,000 people to Target Field today, the first time a sizable crowd has been downtown for entertainment purposes in more than a year.

Big picture: That's not just important for the ballclub, it's important for the image of downtown, Minneapolis Downtown Council President Steve Cramer told Nick.

  • People have been sitting at home for a year. They saw images of downtown being looted back in August and have heard reports of crime in the center of the city.

Reality check: While violent crime is up overall in Minneapolis, it's declined in the two downtown City Council wards.

  • However, the city's homeless problem is more visible without all of the office employees and evening visitors.

What they're saying: "There's this image of a foreboding place," Cramer said. "And it's not that at all. I think people are going to feel, I hope, comfortable (being here)."

Yes, but: Downtown will be much different than people remember. Some of the popular pre-game bars, including Kieran's Irish Pub and The Depot, haven't re-opened.

  • Many businesses are boarded up in advance of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial on the other side of downtown.

Of note: The Twins have worked with the city of Minneapolis to secure preferred parking for the games in ramps A and B, which will allow wary fans to park steps from Target Field.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Minnesota Muslims rush to get pre-Ramadan COVID-19 vaccinations

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Mosques and community organizations are rushing to connect Minnesota Muslims with COVID-19 vaccine appointments before Ramadan begins next week.

Context: The monthlong observance, which starts April 12, involves extra prayer, spiritual reflection, acts of charity and fasting from dawn to dusk.

The issue: People are "chomping at the bit to get back into mosques" and pray in person after the pandemic disrupted services last year, Imam Asad Zaman, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, told Torey.

  • "It's a race against time to get our people vaccinated before there are large congregations in the communities."

Another factor: Leaders and scholars say getting a vaccination wouldn't break the fast, which is one of the pillars of the faith, and MAS Minnesota links to the fatwa giving the green light for the shots in general. But the prospect of dealing with possible side effects from the shots while abstaining from food or drink is also a concern for some.

What's happening: Zaman lobbied the governor's office to secure 7,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in hopes of getting as many people as possible immune at the start of the holy month.

The results: In addition to driving up immunity in the community, the effort is making a difference in addressing vaccine hesitancy within the state's sizable Muslim population.

  • Ahead of the first clinic, Zaman had to convince people to sign up. Now, thanks to "social buzz," appointments are filling up fast.

What's next: Zaman thinks the strategy, along with public vaccination events featuring local religious leaders, could help address disparities in the shot rollout so far.

  • "Doing it in the mosque creates emotional comfort," he said. "People who are on the edge say … well it’s in the mosque, so I’ll check it out."
  • Zaman said he's asking for even more shots given the high demand.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Apr 7, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Bloomington tech campus could bring 700 high-paying jobs

This rendering shows what the Sick tech campus will look like. Image: Clow Berg Inc. via city of Bloomington

A German sensor-maker is moving forward with a $100 million technology campus in Bloomington that will eventually bring 700 new jobs to the city — with an annual average salary of $81,000.

Driving the news: The company, Sick USA, already has an operation in Bloomington, but has been working on plans for a new manufacturing and office campus just east of the Mall of America.

Apr 7, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

The St. Croix Crossing is fueling a Twin Cities-driven boom in western Wisconsin

The St. Croix Crossing bridge is helping spur economic development in western Wisconsin. Photo: MnDot

Lift Bridge Brewery's announcement last week that it is opening a second taproom in New Richmond isn't the only sign of economic development in western Wisconsin.

The state of play: Yes, Lift Bridge chose Wisconsin in part because of its more lenient liquor laws that will allow it to sell more products from the brewery, but co-founder Brad Glynn told Axios the $690 million St. Croix Crossing was also a factor.

Minnesota's gas tax fight is back

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Minnesota House Democrats have quietly revived a push to raise the state's gas taxes.

What's happening: A transportation budget bill released this week proposes increasing the tax by a projected 5 cents over the next four years, based on inflation.

  • Additional revenue for roads and transit would come from higher motor vehicle taxes and a 0.5% transit sales tax in the metro.

How Minnesota's oldest Black-owned newspaper is covering the Chauvin trial

Screenshot: Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Interest in the Derek Chauvin trial is giving new reach to the state's oldest Black-owned newspaper.

What's happening: "People are reading us from all over the country," Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder community editor Mel Reeves told Torey.