Our meeting today was filled with last minute details for the Gold Plate dinner.  This Friday is the big event we all have a part to play in the success of our major fundraiser.  Let's do our best to show our guests a great time and show them what a classy organization we are.  Setup at the Mermaid will begin at 2PM and even though we have some people signed up to help, please consider showing up to lend a hand.  Remember that the theme is "The Roaring 20's", so it would be great if many of us would dress the part.  Costumes are "admired but not required".  Social hour begins at 6:00 and dinner is at 7:00.  Twelve tickets remain to be sold, so there will be an opportunity at the dinner to purchase additional chances to win the big money!
Sue Ager was unable to be at today's meeting as she was attending her sister-in-law's funeral.  She wanted to remind us of the Benedictine Gala on Friday, May 1st.  If you don't have your tickets yet, contact Sue.
Cindy Carlson and Bev Aplikowski are each hosting a table at the NYFS Leadership Luncheon on Wednesday, May 6th from 11:30-1:00 at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville.  Please contact Cindy or Bev if you can attend.
Dave and Susan Hoel are the proud grandparents of Henrik Alan Stordahl, 8 lb., 11 oz. and 22 in.  Mother (Lauren) and son are doing well.
Geoff announced that the Echo Grant has been completed and the new Gator utility vehicle should already have been delivered to a very appreciative ECHO staff.  Once again, we got a lot of praise from the District for doing the grant and doing it right.  Great work, Geoff!
Bob Barmore introduced our speakers, Steve Jahnke and Chris Drahn, of Nuveen Investments. Steve and Chris presented information about the bond market in general and about Minnesota's bond market in particular.  It's one thing to listen to a talk about the bond market, but quite another to write an intelligent summary of a talk about the bond market.  Fortunately for me, and for you, Chris has written a piece on Minnesota's bond market which I will attempt to summarize here.
Minnesota enjoys a relatively good bond investment outlook for a number of reasons.  First, with a budget surplus, high taxes and favorable credit perception among investors, demand for Minnesota municipal debt is high.  Minnesota's economy is also relatively stable due to a good mix of higher paying jobs and high worker education levels.  Investors also note that Minnesota's recovery from the recession outpaced the national recovery with a year-over-year GDP growth rate of 2.8%. Minnesota's debt management is also in the top 25% nationally.  The health of Minnesota's pension system is also good compared to many other states, having passed pension measures in 2010.  State statutes also safeguard general obligation debt for many levels of Minnesota government, with the state auditor having the authority, but so far not the need, to levy property taxes to cover all principal and interest on State G.O. bonds.  Local level bonds have similar safeguards as well.  These safeguards have resulted in fairly high demand from in-state investors which, in turn, attracts out- of state investors.  This has resulted in a stable market for many years and Chris feels that that stability will continue in the near future.  Chris, Bob and Steve are shown below