Drive down the nearest commercial strip and just try not to pass a franchised business. (Spoiler alert: you can’t.)

Gloria Freeman, founder of Olu’s Home and Olu’s Center

Celebrating the achievements of entrepreneurs and small business owners, the U.S. Business Administration recently revealed their annual winners for National Small Business Week. Each of the winners demonstrate the drive to grow their business and help others along the way.

Like most solutions, it began with a problem: an infant cried at night because her room got too cold. The cause was that the thermostat was in another room. The father, a Burnsville-based inventor, created a building automation system that would make every room comfortable, and launched his company two years ago.

Coding at the 2015 Hack the Gap hackathon, courtesy of Hack the Gap.

The IT industry’s lack of gender diversity isn’t a Minnesota-only problem, and it won’t be solved in Minnesota alone. But momentum appears to be building behind Minnesota-based advocates for women in tech. Thanks to their efforts, the industry’s notorious boys’ club finds itself under serious threat.

Starting today, March 21, MN Cup is accepting applications for its twelfth annual startup competition. This year's pool of prize money is $400,000. The competition is open to entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors and small business owners working on a new business venture, as well as pre-existing businesses that have a yearly revenue of less than $1 million.

Every office has one, and at d.trio, a strategic marketing communications agency in the North Loop, its founding partner Fred Driver.

We speak, of course, of the near-holy role of Bracket Dude.

Thursday night was a big one for University of Minnesota-affiliated social entrepreneurs. More than a dozen early-stage companies and concepts came together at Acara Challenge 2016 to celebrate the work they’d done during the previous year (and, for some, long before).

Todd Klingel

“If you’re the president of the Chamber of Commerce and you don’t attend two or three meetings a day, you’re not doing your job,” says Todd Klingel, the longtime CEO and president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The State Legislature’s 2016 session begins Tuesday, March 8. Short of an all-out brawl on the chamber floor, it’s fair to assume that whatever happens in St. Paul will take a back seat to the national campaign fireworks presently consuming the media cycle.