Mark Andrew rolls out plan to help small businesses

Mayoral candidate Mark Andrew released his vision for supporting small businesses in the city outside the World’s Greatest French Fries booth earlier this afternoon, one of his State Fair stands. 

Andrew, a DFLer, also owns the Real S’Mores stand at the fair, which he launched in college four decades ago. The candidate said he wants to expand technical assistance for small businesses; create an incubator for green businesses; and create an “unsession” to streamline the city’s regulatory code.

“We need to cut regulatory red tape to help turn good ideas into good businesses,” he said in a statement. “That’s why I’m proposing a Minneapolis ‘unsession’ to carry out a comprehensive review of Minneapolis small business regulations, and repeal archaic or unnecessary ordinances.”

Andrew said he’s heard many complaints from small businesses out on the campaign trail. One small business owner told him he gets a $2,500 licensing fee bill every year from the city even though it should be for only $500. The glitch happens because the business categories on the renewal form haven’t been updated, he said.

“As a small business owner, I know that small changes for small businesses can produce big results,” Andrew said. “We need to make it easier for businesses to succeed. Doing so will make Minneapolis a destination city that attracts new residents and brings new levels of growth to our city.”

After serving 16 years on the Hennepin County board, Andrew later launched GreenMark, a green marketing firm that helped Target Field secure LEED certification. He also said his State Fair businesses have created more than 2,000 seasonal jobs.

In anticipation of Andrew’s press conference this afternoon, mayoral candidate Cam Winton, an independent, sent reporters a statement contrasting his platform on supporting businesses in the city. He said he plans to roll out more details after Labor Day. 

Winton said he’s the best person to lead changes to make it easier for people to start and expand companies in Minneapolis. He has helped build a wind-turbine maintenance company, which was named one of the fastest-growing companies by Inc. magazine in 2011. In 2012 the company was sold to Duke, the largest utility in the country.

“Mark’s businesses are a five-man marketing firm and some 10-day-a-year food stands at the State Fair,” Winton said. “In contrast, my colleagues and I built our company to have 120 full-time employees providing wind-turbine maintenance services across the country and overseas. … In short, I’m the only candidate with this level of business experience, and I’d draw on it to lead City Hall in delivering essential services effectively, enabling companies to start and grow here, and ensuring that all have the same opportunities I’ve had.” 

Winton’s suggestion that he has the strongest business background quickly drew criticism from candidates Stephanie Woodruff and Don Samuels. Woodruff has more than two decades of experience working in the private sector in accounting and finance. Samuels, meanwhile, has 30 years of business experience, including working as a senior executive for a Fortune 500 company.