Career Paths with no College Education

In this era of high technology manufacturing, four years and a bachelor's degree is hardly the only smart path to take. Only 22 percent of jobs in our state require a bachelor's degree or above.

In recent decades, our society has developed a powerful cultural bias that a four-year college degree is optimal for everyone, and that any other path to a career is second-best, “for dummies.”  Of course a four-degree remains an excellent choice for many. But it’s increasingly clear that our educational system’s single-minded focus on four-year colleges is failing many of our young people. It is also placing our society’s future prosperity in jeopardy.

In actual fact, young people who choose alternative pathways like a two-year associate’s degree, an apprenticeship or an occupational certificate can often land in-demand, well-paying jobs fast, avoid crippling debt and look forward to a secure future.

Our state’s manufacturers, for example, struggle to fill two-thirds of the available jobs, according to Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The problem will grow worse as baby boomers continue to retire. This skills gap will severely hamper the ability of Minnesota’s economy to grow unless we address it with urgency now. The solution is hiding in plain sight. We must do better at informing students, and their parents, about all their opportunities as they make post-secondary plans.

Many are likely to find the benefits of a non-four-year path enticing. Apprentices and students in some technical college programs can begin earning money in their occupation at age 18. The “learn and earn” model enables them to pay for their education and begin their careers with little or no debt as young as age 20. Those entering in-demand fields can generally expect several job offers before they finish training. Many have impressive earning potential. Unfortunately, many young people never learn about attractive opportunities like these, because of our society’s “college for all” mantra, which rests on a number of myths.

About half of Minnesota high school graduates enroll in a four-year college. But only 36 percent of full-time, first-time students at the state’s public four-year institutions graduate in four years from the school where they started. Fifty-five percent finish in five years. Less than two-thirds have completed their degree after six years.

Where can students and parents find the information they need to evaluate all their postsecondary options? A paper from DEED — “What to Know Before You Owe,” is available online and lays out a great initial decision making strategy. Families can also consult DEED’s remarkable online “Graduate Employment Outcomes” tool, which shows how many Minnesota graduates are finding jobs from a broad range of majors and at what wages. Another online tool from DEED, “Occupations in Demand” includes information about careers that don’t require postsecondary training.

The Center of the American Experiment, a public-policy institution in Minneapolis, has launched a new project titled “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree: What It Means for Students, Parents and Employers.” The project’s mission is to ensure that students and parents know about the many exciting, fulfilling paths to career success.

Going forward, our society needs to re-emphasize the importance of honoring and respecting all career paths and particularly those who choose alternative career paths for the vital contributions they make to our communities.

Our state’s future prosperity, and the well-being of many of our young people, depend on it.

Posted on July 25, 2017 .

AgriGrowth partnering on labor

The Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation recently attended the “Regional Workforce Strategies: Partnerships and Tools” event held by AgriGrowth. The focus of this event was to inform local Agricultural producers and businesses on the shifting demographics of Central Minnesota’s workforce.

Topics covered at the event included information on how the Millennial workforce differs from previous generations in the workforce, advice on how to better communicate the numerous career opportunities found in the Agriculture sector to students, and the steps employers must take in order to attract highly-skilled individuals to the Agriculture sector.

One of the highlights of this event included an interactive poll portion where employers present at the event were encouraged to provide real-time feedback to a series of questions. Employers were asked if they were taking steps to reach out to elementary and high-school students to share information about Agricultural-related careers. Employers were also asked if they were creating initiatives to adjust their workplace culture, benefits package, or scheduling practices to better attract and retain highly-skilled employees.

The underlying message of this event was that employers in the Agriculture sector must be proactive in their talent recruitment initiatives. Millennials represent the largest generational wave of talent entering the workforce since Baby-Boomers. As a result, employers who are not crafting initiatives and internal policies designed to attract and retain this new wave of talent, run the very real risk of experiencing future struggles in maintaining a highly-skilled workforce.

For more information about AgriGrowth and their workforce initiatives, please visit

Posted on July 25, 2017 .

We Congratulate Bret Weiss on Star Tribune Leadership Award!

The following is a news release provided by GSDC investor WSB:

Bret Weiss Recognized with Leadership Award

The Star Tribune has recognized Bret Weiss, CEO and President of WSB, with a Leadership Award.
The award derives from staff survey answers regarding confidence in the CEO of WSB. Weiss is genuinely honored. “I want to thank the staff at WSB for their confidence in me and for this recognition. It is easy to be a great leader when you have talented and committed staff to execute the direction of the company. I am very fortunate to lead this amazing company!”
The newspaper reached out to learn about who helped shape his leadership style. Click the link below to read more.
Star Tribune Leadership Award – “Bret Weiss, CEO of WSB, is The Ideas Guy
The Star Tribune also recognized WSB as a Top Workplace for a fifth consecutive year, ranking the Minneapolis-based firm #9 among mid-size companies in Minnesota. A link to the online listing can be found at:

Star Tribune Top Workplaces
Clients are looking for consultants that are consistently improving in every measurable way – staff, benefits, products, services, talent, expertise, and customer service, and WSB continues to grow in each of these areas to meet client needs and staff potential. 
President/CEO, Bret Weiss, looks forward to the Top Workplace results. “We strive to be a great place to work to live up to our clients’ expectations.” Weiss notes how being a Top Workplace positively impacts client relationships. “We want to justify their confidence in hiring us and want them to be proud of the company with which they are working. Our clients have choices, and we think that who we are and how we treat others is equally as important as how talented we are as consulting professionals.” 
The Top Workplaces special section, including the article on Weiss’s Leadership Award, is currently online and was published in the Star Tribune on Sunday, June 25th. 
Copyright © 2017 WSB, All rights reserved.
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Posted on July 25, 2017 .

We Congratulate and Celebrate Chris Coborn!

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to GSDC founding investor Chris Coborn,who has been named to the Twin Cities Business 2017 Hall of Fame. Each year, Twin Cities Business recognizes the accomplishments of Minnesota executives who have made lifetime contributions to the state’s economy and to our greater community. The 2017 awardees will be recognized on July 26 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. More info at Coborn's

Posted on July 25, 2017 .

Go GSDC Team!

The GSDC Team will be participating in the upcoming Downtown Movers & Shakers Activity 2017.

Period is from July 10th – August 6th.

 The goal is to increase activity and wellness and walking downtown.

The goal is to increase activity and wellness and walking downtown.


·        Track your activities each day.

·        Use conversion chart to calculate all activities other than walking.

·        Record and forward count weekly.

·        Winner will be determined based on the average per person.

·        Happy hour celebratory event recognizing the winner with a trophy.

Participating companies include:

·        GSDC

·        Bremer Bank

·        Capital One

·        Gaslight Creative

·        GeoComm

·        Granite Equity Partners

·        Mahowald Insurance

·        Netgain

·        Rinke Noonan

·        United Way of Central Minnesota

·        YMCA

Ready, set, GO!!!!!

Posted on June 29, 2017 .

Hosch Attends SelectUSA Foreign Direct Investments Summit in Washington, D.C.

GSDC Business Development Director Larry Hosch returned last week from the SelectUSA Summit in Washington D.C. The SelectUSA summit is the highest-profile event dedicated to attracting foreign direct investments into the U.S. Over 1,100 International Firms and trade associations attended the event. “I am very impressed with the event and the contacts we made with potential prospects looking at the Greater St. Cloud are as a possible place to do business”. After three days of networking, meeting, following up with contacts and attending receptions Larry established relationships with 6 prospects wanting to learn more about doing business in the region.  These prospects include:

o    Italian energy market group

o    Granite warehousing company from India

o    Brazilian composite railroad tie manufacturer

o    Israeli cyber security firm

o    Mexican dairy company

o    Israeli investors looking to establishing a local medical clinic

Before returning home, Larry also made a stop to visit Rep. Emmer’s office and other MN Congressional staff located in D.C.

Larry joined the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO) and other MN regional economic development organizations to recruit and attract foreign investments to Minnesota and the Greater St. Cloud Region.

Posted on June 27, 2017 .

From the President: Strength and Grit

“Strength & Grit.” That was the title given to Hudda Ibrahim’s presentation earlier this month at the Forum of Executive Women’s monthly membership gathering. I can’t think of a more fitting title.

Hudda Ibrahim is president and founder of Filsan Consultant, LLC.  The company was founded in 2016 on the principles of cultural integration. She’s a faculty member at St. Cloud Technical and Community College and a member of the inaugural Initiators Fellowship with the Initiative Foundation. AND, she authored her first book, From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis.

As a refugee from Somalia, Hudda arrived in the US in 2007. Six months after arriving, she enrolled in the nursing program at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. Her passion for politics and writing led to a transfer to the College of St. Benedict where she completed her undergraduate degree with a double major in English and Peace Studies. Hudda then landed a spot in the competitive international peace studies master’s program at the University of Notre Dame. She completed an internship in Washington DC with a nonprofit organization that promotes dialogue between Palestinian and Jewish women. Ultimately, she returned to St. Cloud where she felt the growing Somali community needed her. And anyone who’s met Hudda knows that our entire community needs her.

I met Hudda Ibrahim and Sangeeta Jha at the Create CommUNITY Conversation on Race event in 2015. The 15 minutes we spent together in a roundtable discussion at that event served as the catalyst for what has become a cherished friendship, on both a personal and professional level. Our monthly lunch outings have now expanded to also include Sangeeta’s daughter, Vatsaala, and my daughter, Lacey. And, Hudda has been generous in sharing her time and expertise with the GSDC as we’ve endeavored to assist in meeting the workforce needs of our business community and to assist new immigrants in their business development efforts. I’ve also had the privilege of sharing words of encouragement, inspiration, caution, and overall advocacy as she contemplated her own business enterprise aspirations.

  Recognizing the value of engaging Hudda and Filsan Consultant in the business development work of the GSDC and the constrained finances of a business start-up, Hudda has been able to join the GSDC corporate investor group through generous sponsorships provided by GSDC corporate investors, Brad Goskowicz/Microbiologics and Jon Hall/Kensington Bank. Filsan Consultant LLC was formally recognized and welcomed into the GSDC Investor group at our annual meeting held on May 4th at the River’s Edge Convention Center.

“From Somalia to Snow” Book Signing Reception:

We’re delighted to be co-hosting a book signing reception for Hudda on Wednesday, July 12th, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at St. Cloud Technical and Community College Library. There will be a brief program at 4 p.m. with snacks and beverages catered by Short Stop Custom Catering and the Somali Café. Visit to learn more and to register (Free).

Filsan Consultant, LLC will be Featured Business at August 3rd GSDC Meeting of All Investors and Partners (Board of Advisors)

And, for GSDC investors and stakeholders, you’ll want to make sure you attend the August 3rd Board of Advisors meeting being held at the Kelly Inn Grand Ballroom from 7 – 9:30 a.m. As the featured business, Hudda/Filsan Consultant LLC will provide an overview of her company and the services she offers to area employers in integrating our immigrant neighbors into the workforce. GSDC investor members will receive meeting particulars via email in mid-July.

As business leaders we are fortunate to have Hudda among us as we navigate the inevitable changes in our workforce and greater community.  I hope to see you at one or both of the upcoming events featuring Hudda.

Patti Gartland

GSDC President  

Posted on June 27, 2017 .