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Editor's Note: Innovation is a positive word

The word innovation hasn’t always had the same connotation it does today.

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What does the word innovation mean to you? Perhaps surprisingly, it hasn’t always had the same connotation it does today.

“Innovation was a word that had been in bad repute for centuries. It meant something impulsive, a trifle addled, the work of an enthusiast and certainly an infringement on the law,” writes Catherine Drinker Bowen in Miracle at Philadelphia, a fine book about the Constitutional Convention of 1787. At the time, accusing “a politician of introducing innovation was to discredit him at once.”

The word innovation has much more appeal today. It is a positive trait to innovate, to think outside the box, to come up with new ways of doing things. That is the root of progress – and any company worth its salt wants to progress to the next level.

Something impressive with companies in the Prairie Business coverage area is their innovation. They seem to always be striving to excel and grow, which is exactly what any business, if they are doing things right, should be doing.

In this month’s issue, which highlights construction and engineering projects in the region, there are many companies doing just that – innovating, growing, excelling.

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Take, for example, Houston Engineering Inc. The firm, which has offices in Minnesota and North Dakota, has created a unique automated system to treat stormwater. You’ll have to read the story to find out more about this innovation, but it is exciting to know that companies such as HEI are always on the edge, looking over the cliff and seeing where they might fill the void. Accordingly, the team’s project has filled a big space for some clients, such as municipalities and water districts, looking to better treat stormwater.

Of course, a company doesn’t have to develop new technologies or systems to be innovative. Innovation happens in the laboratories and plants, sure – such as developing electric cars and, more recently, their longer battery life – but it also happens at the desk, whether in the office or remotely. If individuals and companies are to be successful they innovate all of the time.

Digi-Key Electronics, based in Thief River Falls, is figuring out ways to work in an office setting of new normalities, and law firms are tackling new territory (for them) with aspects of the legal profession going virtual. Both also are stories in this issue.

What are some things your business has done to innovate? We would like to know – and so would other Prairie Business readers. Send me a note: aweeks@prairiebusinessmagazine.com.

Andrew Weeks
Andrew Weeks

Andrew Weeks is an award-winning journalist who has reported for a number of newspapers and magazines. He currently is the editor of Prairie Business, the premier business magazine of the northern plains. The magazine covers various industries and business topics in the Dakotas and western Minnesota.
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