Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Revisiting Elk Run's media circus

When Elk Run issues were burning hottest between 2008 and 2011, the media were drawn to the flame.

Four media outlets routinely covered what was being hailed as a $1 billion development in Pine Island, and some of the coverage was at odds.

In September 2010, MinnPost wrote a lengthy blog post about the ongoing drama between Tower Investments and reporters from the Post-Bulletin, the Star Tribune, a Cleveland-based website called MedCity News, and Twin Cities-based business newspaper Finance & Commerce.

MinnPost's David Brauer wrote he'd "never seen more public backbiting among a reporting crew."

"The Rochester Post-Bulletin tweaks Finance and Commerce," Brauer wrote. "MedCity News pokes the Star Tribune. A Star Tribune reporter wonders why the Post-Bulletin, Finance and Commerce and MedCity News reporters are 'voicing their personal opinions.'"


Former Finance & Commerce reporter Arundhati Parmar won an i nvestigative journalism award for her stories about Elk Run's spate of legal issues. But her aggressive style didn't sit well with Tower and its supporters.

Now employed as a senior editor of UBM Canon in the medical device industry, Parmar contends she was simply "revealing that (Tower's Elk Run) model didn't make any sense." Her LinkedIn account describes Elk Run as a "botched biotech real estate project."

"I do get my knickers in a bunch if things don't add up, so, yes, I can be accused of being a hound dog," Parmar said via email.

The P-B wrote editorials that supported the development at the time, and Managing Editor Jay Furst wrote in a column that P-B reporters provided the "most consistent, fair and accurate reporting available" on Elk Run.

Parmar described the P-B as being an Elk Run "cheerleader."

"There was a clear contrast in how the local newspaper of record was covering it and how other reporters were covering it from afar," she said.

Dale Wahlstrom, former president and CEO of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota, agrees there was a "clear contrast," but he's got a far different perspective on her "hound dog" style. As a vocal supporter of Elk Run who was quoted regularly by Parmar and the Star Tribune, he called their coverage "the most biased reporting he's seen in his 37 years in this industry."

"There was a real media storm around (Elk Run) at that time," said Wahlstrom, who hasn't heard from Tower since 2011. "The media, particularly reporters for Finance and Commerce and the Star Tribune, there was an attack on the whole idea, on individuals who worked for Tower and Mr. Burrill."


Peter Bianco, a vocal Elk Run critic employed in the biobusiness industry, agrees with Wahlstrom's criticism of the media, to a point.

"I agree the media firestorm was over the top, but that was a result of the .... way (Tower) went about this from the beginning and the inability of our leadership to hit the pause button and really do the proper due diligence before public monies were committed," Bianco said.

What To Read Next
Get Local