All things considered, 2014 was a phenomenal year for the greater St. Cloud region and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation. By all measures, our accomplishments affirm the newly developed regional brand: Greater St. Cloud - On the Grow!
Here are some of those accomplishments:
Since our inception in April 2011, our investor group has more than doubled and now exceeds 130. We welcome our newest investors as of January 1: Resource Training & Solutions (Rob Cavanna and Tammy Biery), Minnwest Bank (Matt Hodson and David Miller), DAYTA Marketing (Luke Riordan and John Riordan), and Central MN Credit Union (Rick Odenthal).
GSDC hosted its triennium celebration event and five (5) strategic initiative-related summits (Transportation, Wellness, Innovation, Air Service & Talent) with a collective attendance exceeding 1,000!
GSDC business development efforts in 2014 resulted in 102 business retention & expansion visits, assistance with 6 business expansions, response to 43 business attraction opportunities, and the retention or creation of >600 jobs. After more than two years of effort and assistance, we celebrated the opening of Edmonton Trailers in Sartell on a portion of the former paper mill site. And, we started 2015 with 50 business expansion or attraction opportunities in the pipeline.
GreaterStCloudJobSpot.com was successfully launched in May as an online talent resource serving the greater St. Cloud region exclusively. We have more than 1,000 registered job seekers (980 to be exact) with 14% from the Twin Cities metro area, 17% from outside from the St. Cloud and Twin Cities regions, and 8% from outside of MN. And, more than 270 businesses have posted in excess of 1,100 job openings. Job Spot is proving to be a powerful tool for attracting and retaining talent and was recognized by the Economic Development Association of MN (EDAM) with the 2014 Economic Development Marketing Award. Bravo!
Although it seemed we’d been gifted a lump of coal on Christmas Eve when SkyWest Airlines announced it would be suspending the twice-daily flight service between St. Cloud and Chicago, our resolve to re-attain commercial air service remains strong. In fact, regional air service is no longer considered a competitive advantage for a community, but a necessity for a growing and vibrant community where talented people choose to work, live and engage, and businesses choose to locate. A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor. So, too, will be the case for air service. We remain focused on assisting with efforts to optimize air service utilization through the development of a broader, regionally-based governance solution. And, the outcome will be better as a result of the turbulent air we have traveled.
Milken Institute’s 2014 ranking of best-performing small metros in the country resulted in the St. Cloud region moving from 30th to 26th out of 179 small metros that were evaluated. Find the online article here: http://www.best-cities.org/best-performing-cities-2014-small-cities-rankings.html
Our plans for 2015 include advancing each of our six strategic initiatives through the leadership of investor volunteers and growing GSDC as an organization. Personally, I will be focusing on investor retention and recruitment, goals and budgets for Corps and Committees, refined metrics to measure our progress, and advancing our new regional brand.
This is a good time to remind ourselves that no one organization can do it all, yet all organizations benefit immensely from a collaborative effort guided by the finest business and community leaders anywhere. The engagement of our investor volunteer leaders was essential to our success in 2014 and will continue to be in 2015 and beyond. We are grateful for your vision for our community and your willingness to roll up your sleeves to join us in realizing it. We look forward to many more accomplishments in 2015.