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Cows and Contentment: A look at what’s been happening lately around Northfield

One Hundred and Thirty Malt-O-Jobs to Relocate

Malt-O-Meal plans to move fourteen percent of its Northfield workforce according to a Senior Director Dave McBeain’s Wednesday statement. The the shift will affect office staff rather than manufacturing workers, and comes in response to new food safety measures.

After last April’s Salmonella scare and recall, the company plans to close the West side of the factory where the contamination was found. The closure will displace the 130 office workers that now occupy the same sector of the plant, and because Northfield does not have any other properties the company wants to use, this means moving them out of town. Malt-O-Meal will likely put a new office complex somewhere father south the Interstate-35 corridor

The relocation will likely affect Northfield businesses, but will not leave a huge number of homes vacant: McBeain estimates that only about a third of the transferred employers now live in Northfield.

Currently the largest employer in Northfield, the transfer will put Malt-O-Meal behind St. Olaf, which employees 830. Carleton College is third on the list of major Northfield employers with 690 employees, although Carleton’s 2009-2010 budget last week will reduce the college’s staff by 30.

The Art of Attraction

A handful of blocks along Division Street, Bridge Square, and Water Street hold ten art-related businesses- either galleries, art organizations, or art supply stores. It may be more than a town of 17,000 can support. But rather than a liability, the organizers of the Riverwalk Arts Quarter think the concentration of art businesses in downtown Northfield may the attraction the city needs to bring more visitors into the economy.

Last Tuesday the organizers of the Riverwalk Arts Quarter received a $15,000 grant from the McKnight Foundation to transform their plan into a legal entity. The Arts Quarter project won out over a number of more concrete art-promotion projects including a series of outdoor sculptures, and an expansion of ArtOrg’s 1000 Print Summer to a Guinness World Record scale. However, the leaders of the new organization hope to eventually fund multiple projects along these lines.

The importance of promoting Northfield’s art to an outside audience became even more important last month with the opening of two downtown galleries on Bridge Square: photo studio Anthologie, and automotive art gallery The Garage.

Supermercados and Ta(k)erías

Latino supermarkets have previously struggled in Northfield, but now they are emerging as often as art galleries. Two new combined restaurant-groceries have opened in the Northfield area in the last year: La Vencedora, across from the Quarterback Club on Highway 3, and La Eskina, next to Firehouse Liquor in Dundas.

La Vencedora, which opened last June, is the latest (and in this column’s opinion, the best) of many businesses to move through the building in the last few years. The property has recently housed the Chinese Restaurant Wiggles and Woks, a Quiznos Sandwich Shop, and the Mexican restaurant Maria’s. La Vencedora owner Guadalupe Flores Calderon, who also owns Mexican supermarket Cinco de Mayo in St. Paul, is determined to make her business stick.

“La Eskina” is creatively-spelled Spanish for “the corner”, which is appropriate because the business replaces the Dundas Corner Store. The supermercado still bears some resemblance to the country convenient store: it continues to sell live bait to fishers, and has hung models of fish and ducks alongside piñatas and sombreros.

Both La Vencedor and La Eskina offer fresh food menus including $1.50 tacos, and with burritos and tortas (sandwiches) in the $6.00 range. Both stores also sell ingredients that are difficult to find elsewhere in town including tongue meat, nopales (cactus), dried peppers, and Mexican Coca-Cola (made from sugar cane).

Source: Northfield News, Locally GrownNorthfield.org

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