GSDC stakeholders:

As I complete my tenure as Chair of the GSDC and reflect on all that has been accomplished by the 65 original founding investors and now 150+ current investors, I feel very blessed to have been even a small part of it.  While our work is never done, the accomplishments are many and the collaborative spirit of the organization dreamed of by the founders is evident in what has been accomplished in the eleven years since we started.

Bob White, the founding chair of the GSDC did an exemplary job during the early years to set the stage for what was to follow. When I became chair, the organization had matured and was ready to evolve to the next level of impact.  Patti and team, along with the board, rose to that occasion and effectively moved the organization forward in streamlining the organization, improving the impact of our talent initiatives, enhancing our business development and expansion efforts and delivering positive messaging through the St Cloud Shines initiative and other efforts to promote the great assets of our community.

Our strategy for economic development has always been to take the long view and to help the community to shape a better tomorrow. I think there is plenty of evidence that shows we have made progress in many areas.

As our community was challenged with the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, the staff and board again stepped up and began to focus on how to not only survive these challenges, but to become a better community in the future. Staff worked extremely hard during the pandemic to help investors and non-investors alike to navigate the pandemic rules and the financial assistance programs available to local businesses.

We beefed up our support of small business startups and worked with the Initiative Foundation, the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and others to support minority-owned businesses and leaders.  And in January the St. Cloud Air Authority was created through a collaboration with the city of St Cloud and Benton, Sherburne and Stearns Counties, fulfilling a long term objective of improving our transportation resources.

Certainly, there have been challenges during the past eleven years. But I’m confident we can successfully address them if everyone thinks regionally to address transportation, housing, childcare and other quality-of-life issues.

For example, our public partners – city and county governments, educational institutions and others – have new opportunities to expand on their pro-business priorities through closer collaboration with the GSDC and strong financial support to help create greater impact together.

Economic development is a team sport and without the full support and collaboration of local government, local educational institutions, healthcare, non-profits and the rest of the business community, it is difficult to compete in today’s competitive economic development environment.  My hope for our community is that the work done to date through the collaboration of the public and private sectors can continue to grow and deliver the potential our region is capable of.

As we move forward with a new and extremely talented chair in Joan Schatz and a newly updated strategic plan, I am more confident than ever that the work of this great organization will not only endure, but thrive.  There has been a lot of momentum built over the past eleven years and with the continued thoughtful approach of the GSDC and the commitment of its investors, the future is bright.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to serve and I will see you around as we cross paths in other ways as we all continue to further develop our economy, community and future together.





Annesa Cheek, St. Cloud Technical & Community College, Former President

Annesa Cheek, St. Cloud Technical & Community College, Former President

Laurie Haman, College of Saint Benedict's, Former Interim President

Laurie Haman, College of Saint Benedict’s, Former Interim President

Willie Jett, ISD #742, Former Superintendent

Willie Jett, ISD #742, Former Superintendent

While Brian Myres has completed his term as GSDC Board Chair, he continues as a Board member until the end of 2022. However, the terms of three other excellent Board members are now complete.

The GSDC is very grateful for the service of Annesa Cheek, Laurie Hamen and Willie Jett over the past few years. The GSDC, and the community, are better for their commitment to helping shape a better tomorrow.

Thank you all.


The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) recently produced a report on job vacancies in Central Minnesota and other regions in our state. The report included information from GSDC friend Luke Greiner, DEED’s Regional Analyst for Central and Southwestern Minnesota, about “Unfillable Openings in Central Minnesota.”

Click here to learn more



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Contact Our Staff Team

Patti Gartland, President | 320.260.2442

Leslie Dingmann, Business Development Director | 320.493.9003

Gail Cruikshank, Talent Director | 320.260.6775

Tammy Campion, Communication & Programs Specialist | 320.252.5185