GSDC Takes Aim At Local Skilled Workforce Gap

By Mike Wimmer, GSDC Intern

The Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC) continues its focus on addressing area workforce concerns. The GSDC recently completed two listening sessions with representatives from local construction, skilled trades, and transportation employers. These initial listening sessions were designed to learn about ways the GSDC can best assist area employers in addressing their workforce concerns. Greater St. Cloud employers have voiced concern over the tight labor market negatively impacting the construction, skilled trades, and transportation industries.

Seven employers took place in the initial two meetings including W. Gohman Construction, Park Industries, Brenny Transportation, KJ Construction, Viking Coke, SCR, Sysco, and Strack Companies. As a part of GSDC’s Skilled Worker Initiative, employers voiced support for an increased emphasis on marketing careers in transportation, construction, and the skilled trades in area high schools. Employers also expressed an interest in seeing GSDC create a Social Media plan aimed at promoting key careers and positions to area youth and to allow area employers to share best practices with each other. If you are an area employer in the construction, skilled trades, or transportation fields and would love to have your voice heard on this subject, please contact Gail Cruikshank.

Posted on August 29, 2017 .

CareerONE Program Helps Area At-Risk Youth

By Mike Wimmer, GSDC Intern

What do you think of when you hear the words “summer” and “youth”? For many of us, we think of bike rides, swim lessons, spending time with friends, and freedom from homework. What we may not think about is the difficulties summer can bring for area at-risk youth. Career Solutions (formerly known as Stearns-Benton Employment & Training Council) has developed the CareerONE program aimed at helping area at-risk youth excel both in and out of the classroom. Since 2000, the CareerONE program has provided Central Minnesota youth, ages 14-17, realistic and positive work readiness skills in a safe, nurturing, and learning-rich environment. This program also helps prevent participating youth from regressing academically when are away from the classroom over the summer months.

Thanks to support from CentraCare Health and the United Way of Central Minnesota, the CareerONE program was able to provide services to 100 youth in St. Cloud. An abbreviated, two-week long camp also helped serve 20 youths in Cold Spring, and 10 youths in Paynesville this summer. Every year the program strives to improve in order to better serve area youth and help them achieve success in all facets of their life. Read more about the CareerONE program here. To view a short video highlighting some of the activities participants were able to engage in, please see below.

Posted on August 29, 2017 .

Welcome to the Neighborhood!

I was born and raised in St. Cloud, MN. My family lived 4 blocks south of Tech High School and 1 block east of South Junior High. Growing up, I spent hundreds of hours at Eastman Park (skating at Lake George, swimming at Municipal Pool), South Junior High (tennis courts), and Southside Park (playground) which was recently and appropriately renamed “Haws Park.” I had the good fortune of working alongside longtime City of St. Cloud Parks Director Larry Haws when I was Planning Director for the City of St. Cloud.

Over the course of time, the ‘Southside neighborhood’ I so fondly remember from my youth has gone through a multitude of changes – some of which have not been for the better. “A troubled neighborhood” is probably one of the softer descriptions used. High levels of crime, deteriorating property conditions and an air of lost hope seem to prevail. That is until just recently when the community celebrated the opening of the Richard C. Wilson Community OutPost (COP House) right in the heart of the Southside neighborhood. This first-in-Minnesota innovation has, deservedly, attracted great media attention and coverage, such as this article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: St. Cloud Opens New Police Community Outpost, First-of-Its Kind Program in Minnesota.

Through the efforts of the Greater St. Cloud Public Safety Foundation, a deep and broad cadre of community and city leaders embraced the concept of the Community OutPost House and forged ahead to bring it to fruition. Bravo! Bravo! In addition to being an exciting new addition to and game changer for ‘a troubled neighborhood’, it is yet another phenomenal example of the power of collaboration, collective impact and what it means to truly be stewards of place. And that makes me think of Wendell Berry.

Wendell Berry is an American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. His writings focus on place and its importance, and his concern for a societal trend of disconnection and self-focus. Arguably, this trend has been in play for a long time, not only in the broader south-side neighborhood I grew up in, but across many sectors of our community and society.

The Richard C. Wilson Community OutPost is an inspiring example of how our community is working to turn the tide on this trend as it creates and strengthens community through personal connections and relationships. 

I am reminded that seven years ago community leaders identified a need for a new approach to regional economic development and created the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation.  I think Wendell Berry would be impressed and encouraged by how leaders from all sectors of our greater community are steadfast in their commitment  to solving our most challenging community issues through collaboration and collective impact.  

If you haven’t gone to the COP House yet or been to Haws Park recently, please make it a point to do so. I know you’ll be ‘wowed’ and feel a strong sense of pride. And, if you’re wondering how you can help ensure the COP House is able to maximize its impact to the neighborhood and the broader community, consider a contribution through their gift registry at Target:  St. Cloud COP House Gift Registry.   

                Great things are happening in the Greater St. Cloud community. Thank you for all that you individually and collectively do to make this region an amazing place to live, work and engage!

Patti Gartland, GSDC President

Posted on August 29, 2017 .

We've Got Robots!

A recent article by Mark Muro of the Brookings Institute, Where the Robots Are, illustrates the number and incidence of industrial robots by metropolitan statistical area (MSA) as of 2015.  In our region, there are 3.1 robots per 1,000 human employees in our St. Cloud MSA as compared to 1.4 per 1,000 in the Twin Cities area.  See how St. Cloud compares to other MSAs in the nation with this link:  Where the Robots Are,

Posted on August 29, 2017 .

From the GSDC Board Chair, Brian Myres

August, 2017

As summer is winding down and school is starting, most of us are turning to the 2018 budget cycle, business planning and preparing for ending 2017 on a positive note.  As investors in the GSDC, you should be aware that the staff, corps leaders and officers are diligently going through that same process of budgeting, planning and getting ready for the year ahead. 

Additionally, as I mentioned in the June letter, we are beginning the strategic planning refresh which will guide our next three to five years of work.  We will be very focused on the local challenges of talent recruitment and retention, industry sector opportunities and emerging trends in our region that will impact our regional economy going forward.  Stay tuned as we reach out in the coming months to seek your input into this process as we continue to help drive economic growth in the region.

As we think about the future, it is also important that we reflect upon what got us to today and to be thankful to those that helped us achieve that success.  One person that really worked hard to found the GSDC, get us through some early challenges and to drive our talent corps is Marty Moran.  Marty and his wife Asha own ClearPath Consulting and have been great contributors to not only the success of the GSDC, but also the Community Pillars, the YMCA, United Way and numerous other organizations in our region.  Marty and family have recently moved to Greenville, North Carolina and will be greatly missed, but their legacy of building our community will last for years.  Please join me in thanking Marty for all his contributions to our organization and wish him well in his new endeavors.  Life is about legacy and leaving this place better than we found it, and Marty Moran exemplifies that.


Brian Myres

GSDC Board Chair

Posted on August 29, 2017 .

GSDC Earns the Trophy!

So proud! Our GSDC Team won the trophy for the inaugural St. Cloud Downtown Movers and Shakers challenge - most average steps per person! Congrats to the other companies that participated - let's keep moving!   Bremer Bank, Capital One, Gaslight Creative, GeoComm, Granite Equity Partners, Mahowald Insurance, Netgain Technology, Rinke Noonan, United Way of Central MN, St. Cloud Area Family YMCA

Posted on August 11, 2017 .

St. Cloud Infrastructure Wins Big!

 The Minnesota Public Facilities Authority has approved a grant of $6.6 million to the City of St. Cloud to help pay for wastewater treatment improvements.  A news release from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development is below and more info at this address:

For Immediate Release
July 31, 2017

Contact: Shane Delaney, 651-259-7236

PFA Awards Funding
for Three Projects
~St. Cloud, Afton and Greenbush investing
in water infrastructure improvements~

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA) has approved funding packages totaling nearly $16 million for water infrastructure projects in St. Cloud, Afton and Greenbush.

“These projects will enhance local water resources and the communities they're in,” said Shawntera Hardy, who chairs the PFA board and is commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “This is a wise investment that will not only protect public health and the environment but also encourage growth in the local economy.”

Funding was approved for the following projects:

St. Cloud, $6.6 million
The grant, awarded from the PFA’s Point Source Implementation Grant Program, will help pay for $24.3 million in wastewater treatment improvements, including an upgrade that will reduce the discharge of phosphorus. Remaining funding will come from local sources and potentially a low-interest loan when the PFA finalizes its loan list this fall.

Afton, $8.7 million The funding will help pay for a new wastewater and stormwater treatment and collection system to serve the downtown village area. The funding includes a $5.7 million grant from the Point Source Implementation Grant Program. In addition, two low-interest, 20-year loans for $2.2 million and principal forgiveness grants for $748,000 were approved from the Clean Water Revolving Fund. The low-interest loans will save taxpayers $365,000 compared with what they would have paid for market-rate loans of the same amount.

Greenbush, $601,957 The Roseau County city will use the money for a new water main, seven fire hydrants and 23 gate valves along Highway 7. The PFA is providing a $472,723 principal forgiveness grant from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund and a $129,234 low-interest loan, also from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund. The 1 percent, 20-year loan will save the city $22,040 in interest costs compared with what it would pay for a market-rate loan of the same amount.

The Minnesota Public Facilities Authority provides financing and technical assistance to help communities build and maintain infrastructure that protects public health and the environment and promotes economic growth. Since inception in 1987, the PFA has financed $4.5 billion in public infrastructure projects in communities throughout Minnesota. Read more at the PFA website.


Upon request, the information in this news release can be made available in alternative
formats for people with disabilities by contacting the DEED Communications Office at 651-259-7161.

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
Communications Office
Phone 651-259-7149 or 1-800-657-3858 ∙ TTY 1-800-657-3973
An equal opportunity employer and service provider.

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Posted on August 2, 2017 .

Historic First National Bank Recognized by Finance & Commerce

The historic First National Bank building in St. Cloud has been recognized by Finance & Commerce as a top project in 2016.  We are fortunate to enjoy the beautifully restored space every day as we work to make the Greater St. Cloud region even more vital!  Our congratulations to Inventure Properties for their success and this recognition!  Read the article HERE.

Posted on July 31, 2017 .