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Company and tech news from the region.

Hotspot services to reach $3.46 billion in 2009

Worldwide wireless data hotspot revenue will rise from $969 million in 2005 to $3.46 billion in 2009, according to Arizona-based In-Stat. The growth will occur as the number of hotspot locations nearly doubles in size from 100,000 in 2005 to almost 200,000 by the end of 2009.

The largest sector of the hotspot market will continue to be the cafe market (including coffee shops, fast food, and full service restaurants), which will grow from just over 40,000 venues worldwide in 2004 to just under 100,000 venues by 2009.

Investigo upgrades Group Organizer

Minneapolis-based Investigo announced enhancements to its Group Organizer Web-based system, including expanded contact information and mail-merge functionality, a new .NET architecture, and more flexible report options and formats.

Investigo has expanded contact information to include multiple owners, beneficiaries, individual names, unlimited addresses, telephone numbers, e-mails and custom attributes, further enabling advisors to track and manage client information in a central location. The new Group Organizer makes it easy for advisors to see all items in all of their groups and items that can be added to each group. It also contains market values for all accounts and account groups and provides the ability to search and sort information, mail merge, XML-out, and create and modify groups on one screen.

Identix gets order from county

Minnetonka-based Identix Inc. received an order valued at more than $900,000 from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to expand the department’s rollout of its real-time identification network.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office will receive additional Identix IBIS mobile handheld units, which are used to conduct real-time, on-the-spot fingerprint and facial image identifications. The units allow officers to capture the biometric data and transmit it through the IBIS server.

The purchase was been funded by grants from the National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Department of Justice.

state wants to tax Internet sales

Minnesota and 18 other states have agreed to begin collecting sales taxes on Internet purchases.

The coalition is asking retailers to voluntarily sign on to the program in exchange for incentives, including amnesty for taxes uncollected or unpaid prior to registration. The states will also provide retailers with a two-year monetary allowance to cover the costs of modifying their business systems and software.

Currently, states cannot require businesses that don’t have a physical presence in their state to collect sales tax on purchases made in the state. Minnesota loses approximately $300 million a year in sales tax revenue as a result, according to a Minnesota Department of Revenue study. The new voluntary program is expected to generate more than $41 million in sales tax revenue for the state during the fiscal 2006-07 biennium.

The other states involved in the program are Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. Nevada will join the group at the start of 2006.

Tofteland will be new SoftBrands CEO

Richfield-based enterprise software maker SoftBrands Inc. has announced that Randal Tofteland, the company’s president and chief operating officer, will take over as CEO in 2006.

George Ellis, the software company’s current CEO, will become executive chairman.

Tofteland joined SoftBrands’ predecessor company, Fourth Shift, as vice president of sales in 1997.

IT worker confidence rebounds

According to the Hudson Employment Index survey, IT workers regained confidence in September, as the sector’s index increased over seven points from 97.5 to 104.8. Increased job satisfaction, reduced layoff worries and optimism about personal finances spurred the increase. The percent happy with their current job jumped 12 points to 82 percent, the highest yet recorded.

Additionally, only 21 percent of sector employees were worried about losing their jobs, down from 29 percent in August and the lowest level all year.

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