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Is MSP Airport’s Decline… Terminal?

Plus shelter plans shot down, more jobs than Minnesotans, and squirrels are a-breedin' in today's Flyover news roundup.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport|

Everyone on this plane is happy to be leaving our sad, second-place airport.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Survey: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Sucks Now

No, it doesn't really suck. We’re just poking a little fun at our dramatic fall from the top spot on J.D. Power’s 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study way, way down to... No. 2 spot this year. Yep, in 2023 the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is only the second best mega-airport (that's airports that have 33 million or more passengers a year). Despite customer satisfaction and customer spending going up this year, we still trailed behind Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport’s 800 point score with a mere 796. We demand a recount! (No, we don’t.)

According to the site, the study is a result of 27,147 completed surveys examining (in order of importance): terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail. What made all those numbers go up? J.D. Power’s suggests that LaGuardia finishing up on renovations helped a great deal with keeping other flights on time. Tampa International Airport took top honors for a second year in the large-size airport category while Indianapolis International Airport took the mid-sized honors.

Homeless Shelter Proposals for Eagan, Rochester Nixed

Would you take $10 million in funding from the federal government? A sizable number of people in Dakota and Olmsted Counties apparently would not—not if that money is used to build homeless shelters. Last night, elected officials in each county held a meeting where they considered requesting federal funds from the state for just that purpose, and in each case, there was heavy community pushback. In Dakota County, Maraya King reports for the Pioneer Press, the Board of Commissioners had discussed using the funds to renovate the Norwood Inn & Suites hotel in Eagan, a project that would cost $24 million in total. Some county residents bristled at the price tag, but more echoed this Burnsville (as in, not-Eagan) resident quoted by KARE 11: "It would put the restaurants in jeopardy and the other businesses."

Meanwhile, in Olmsted, the county is looking into turning residential property at Old Town Hall on East Center Street in Rochester into a mix of affordable housing and emergency shelter. But at a Housing and Redevelopment Authority, residents of that area of the city were adamantly opposed. A representative comment, according to KTTC: “We feel that it might be undermining the safety of our neighborhood, and we want to know how that is going to be managed. We’ve worked hard and long to build a home here,” In each case, officials made it clear that, regardless of the backlash, there are quite simply a lot of people who need housing. “What we have seen happen in Dakota County over time is that more people are falling into homelessness than our system is equipped to respond to,” said Dakota County social services director Evan Henspeter. “It’s not going to magically go away.” 

Report: Minnesota Has More (Low-Paying) Jobs Than (Desperate) Workers

Just yesterday we were talking about a Fed survey of workers in the upper Midwest, which found that many of us are stuck in jobs that don’t pay the bills and are scouting around for other jobs, but those don’t pay any better. Today Madison McVan at the Minnesota Reformer looks into a report released Monday by Minnesota Business Partnership and Presbyterian Homes and Services that’s concerned with the fact that Minnesota has more jobs than workers. According to McVan, “For every unemployed person in Minnesota, there are two open jobs.” The reasons are myriad: Baby boomers are retiring, the birth rate is falling, immigration is declining, and more people are leaving Minnesota than moving here. Oh, and also, the jobs tend to be low-paying and Minnesota has a highly educated workforce. The report’s solutions include increased training, more automation and digitization, workplace flexibility, and immigration. McVan’s kicker sums it all up: “An idea for attracting workers that is notably absent from the report: raising wages.”

Let’s Welcome and Embrace Our New Squirrel Overlords

All kinds of things bring about baby booms in humans: the end of a world war, power outages, pandemics, etc. In the natural world, it sometimes comes down to one thing: tree sex. See, oak trees produce mega-drops of their babies (aka acorn seeds) every two to five years. And according to scientists, 2023 is gonna be a big year for them, which also means more babies from the animals who feed off of their nuts. “So, there’s going to be a lot of squirrels this year,” Doug Tallamy, author of The Nature of Oaks, tells Tim Nelson at MPR. Nature is cyclical, which means populations should grow smaller the following years when trees yield dramatically less tasty seeds. “So it’s temporarily good for the squirrels, but in the long run, it crashes their population,” he concludes. In the meantime, they’re eating good in their neighborhood.

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