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Home sales retreated 1.3% in January from December. The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes slipped last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million. Sales have climbed 9.6% over the past 12 months as borrowing costs have fallen, but that trend could change in the coming months because of a shortage of homes listed for sale.

Construction of new homes edged back slightly in January after a December surge that had pushed home construction to the highest level in 13 years. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that builders started construction on 1.57 million homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, a decline of 3.6% from 1.63 million units in December.

A government report says airline travelers were a bit more likely to be delayed, and more often for longer spells, when flying around the U.S. last year. Canceled flights were up, and so were the number of passengers bumped off overcrowded flights. Hawaiian Airlines took home the prize for being the nation's most punctual airline at 87.7% -- followed by Delta Air Lines at 83.5%.

The Grand Forks Airport was the 3rd busiest airport in the country on Tuesday. Bolstered by additional takeoffs and landings by UND aviation the GFK logged 1,847 flight operations.

Victoria's Secret is being sold. The company has been beset by falling sales and uncomfortable questions about its billionaire founder who has run the company for five decades. Company owner L Brands says the private-equity firm Sycamore Brands will buy 55% of Victoria's Secret for about $525 million.

Stage stores reportedly will close 40 stores in fiscal 2020. Stage Stores acquired Gordman’s in 2017. The company is working through financial restructuring. The stores in Grand Forks and Fargo are on the closure list. Gordmans is an Omaha-based retailer that has about 140 locations and operates in 22 states.

A fast food company is attempting to revamp its branding and expand the franchise as it adds new stores and remodels older ones. Taco John's International Inc. has launched what it calls an aggressive growth initiative. Taco John's hopes to increase the number of new stores, with plans to open between 15 and 20 this year and between 20 and 25 next year.

Xcel Energy has announced a series of executive appointments. Bob Frenzel will be named president and chief operating officer and that Brian Van Abel will be the company’s chief financial officer, both effective March 31. As president and COO, Frenzel will have oversight for Xcel Energy’s four operating companies, including the company’s transmission, distribution and natural gas operations.

Alerus Financial Corporation announced that its board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.15 per common share, a 7.1 percent increase over the dividend paid a year ago. Alerus Financial banking and wealth management offices are located in Grand Forks and Fargo, N.D., the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. metropolitan area, and Scottsdale and Mesa, Ariz.

Minnesota-based Hormel Foods Corporation has reached an agreement to acquire Texas-based Sadler's Smokehouse. Sadler's Smokehouse is a family-owned business that specializes in premium and authentic pit-smoked meats for retail and foodservice customers.

ISight RPV Services today announces it has acquired the Fargo-based drone company, Flight Pros. Known for specializing in aerial site mapping, 3D modeling and high-definition aerial photography and videography, Flight Pros adds to the line-up of services ISight offers. ISight will soon have offices in Grand Forks, Fargo and Watford City.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation will temporarily close the Driver’s License Office in Grafton Tuesday, March 17, due to building maintenance. The office will reopen and resume normal hours Tuesday, April 7.

The City of Grand Forks has selected R.J. Zavoral and Sons to help with flood fighting efforts this spring. Zavoral submitted the low bid of $371,302 dollars. Due to the unknown nature of any single flood event the work is bid on a time and material basis. If no work is required of the contractor, the City’s only financial obligation is reimbursement of the contractor’s bond cost which will likely not exceed $2,600.

The Grand Forks council this week gave its O-K to a five-year Renaissance Zone for the Olive Ann project. The downtown boutique hotel would be located at 322 DeMers Avenue. If the state concurs the project would be eligible for a five year state income tax exemption and five-year property tax exemption for value added. The project is pegged at around $36.5 million dollars.

Blue Apron, the online seller of meal kits, said it may put itself up for sale. The struggling company, which pioneered the meal-kit craze in the U.S., has faced tough competition from online rivals that also ship boxes of raw meat, fish and vegetables to doorstops.

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