Congratulations to the nine young Greater St. Cloud area professionals with leadership aspirations that have been chosen for the 2024 cohort of the Minnesota Young American Leaders Program (MYALP)!

  • Kelti Lorence, Marketing Specialist, Park Industries
  • Hanna Lord, GIS Manager, GeoComm
  • Colleen Schumann, Client Manager, Gallagher
  • Nora Hertel, Founder, Project Optimist
  • Emmanuel Oppong, Community Engagement Director, City of St. Cloud
  • Vincent Miles, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Miles Psychological Services
  • Aaron Sinclair, District Strategy Partner, Sourcewell
  • Rebecca Kotz, Women’s Center Asst. Director/Gender Violence Prevention Coordinator, SCSU
  • Eunice Adjei, Director of Multicultural Services, St. Cloud Financial Credit Union

The intensive idea-sharing program, to be held May 19-22, 2024, on the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus, will educate these young leaders about how to work across sectors to help their communities and our region prosper inclusively.

The Program is a partnership between the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrative Leadership, the Itasca Project, and Harvard Business School and shares themes and selected content with Harvard’s national Young American Leaders Program.  Since 2019, the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC) has led the effort to identify leaders in the Greater St. Cloud region to participate in the program. Over 60 participants from Duluth, Fargo-Moorhead, Mankato, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Rochester and St. Cloud will be participating in MYALP 2024.

Learn more at 



“Central Minnesota is experiencing a childcare crisis, affecting workforce stability and hindering families’ access to quality childcare.  Providers struggle with wages and care costs. Central Minnesota businesses must support the Child Care Response Fund to build a family-friendly community.”              – Mike Helgeson 

The following story is authored by Ryan Cross, President & CEO BCI Construction, Inc.    

Families are, and have been, struggling with childcare in Central Minnesota for several generations. And while great understanding and recognition around the issue has been available to our communities for a long time, most people have struggled to make a substantial difference. Locally, Central Minnesota essentially has doubled the deficit of providers to children as compared to other metropolitan areas in Minnesota.  We also have 80% of our childcare provisions being completed by in-home care and 20% through center care.  The numbers are inverted in the greater MSP area (20% in-home with 80% center care).  On top of that, providers are leaving the industry at a startling pace as cost for care is high for families and wages are extremely low for providers with a large amount of liability.

In 2019, a group of people in Central Minnesota decided it was truly time to do something to come up with a response.  The Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (GSDC), along with United Way of Central Minnesota, the Initiative Foundation, Milestones, and many others came together to form the Central Minnesota Community Child Care Response Fund & Advisory Council.  Through the generous gift from a central Minnesota family, a collaboration was formed allowing for focus on this crisis right here on our doorstep led by a Child Care Coordinator.  The aim of the groups is to understand, thinktank, make and take action, etc., in regards to childcare from many vantage points: The parents, their children, the providers, employers, business owners and leaders, and the community at large.  We know in our current climate considering demographics, politics, and general situation, the response would need to be complex.

What We’ve Done So Far

From generous gifts supplied by members of the Central Minnesota community; we feel we have been able to do a lot in our short time as an organization.  Here is a quick summary of our fetes thus far:

  • Higher Education: We have partnered with both St. Cloud Technical and Community College (SCTCC) and St. Cloud State University (SCSU).
    • At SCTCC we assisted the formation of a training and credentialing program for providers, either already working within the industry, or looking to get started, at low to no costs through funding support from Initiative Foundation.
    • This program led to further evaluation of the courses needed to receive this degree and match it with continued studies to continue programming to SCSCU for a Bachelor of Arts program.
  • Continuing Education: With already low wages across the childcare industry, continuing education is difficult financially and time consuming. Utilizing our funds, we have been able to offer providers and their employees continued education at low (to no) costs to support them.
    • The Child Care Response Fund has offered funds for over two (2) years
    • Have served over 1,000 providers to date with monthly trainings
    • Allows providers to complete trainings on their own time, even from the comfort of their own couch.
  • Shared Service Network: To get providers back into the work focused on caring for our children and lessening the time that is spent traditional business practices (paperwork, data track & entry, etc.), we have been able to leverage grant funds from the Laura Jane Musser Foundation and the Initiative Foundation to jumpstart a new Shared Service Network for providers at no cost right here in Central Minnesota.
    • This network aims to provide resources that alleviate stress on the providers and their business. Through a partnership with Milestones, who is already working with providers on day-to-day needs, to administer this program. 
  •  Awareness & Committee: A group that meets monthly that consists not only of providers, but businesses, non-profits, and many other affiliated groups to bring general awareness to community, guide this fund, and learn/understand the issues of childcare we face here in Central Minnesota, the state of Minnesota, and on a national level.

While we are proud of these successes to date, the opportunity is still challenging for greater impact and change!  We have visions of not only bettering this generational issue here in Central Minnesota but making this a successful industry of business for providers, families, and our general population.

Where we are Going:

Our next steps are important.  While we’ve made headway, the strategy will be key for us over the next couple of years.  Our goal is far greater than merely lowering the deficit; it is to provide positive impact while doing so.  Our next steps will be focused on the business needs and their growth.  United Way has created a landing page for information for businesses with the goal and intent to:

  • Help families within the business find child care
  • Help families find specialized care as needed
  • Help businesses grow because childcare is available to their employees
  • Help Businesses devise plans to offer childcare solutions to attract and retain their staff
  • Create a landing page & library of resources where businesses can access information about the childcare crisis
  • Building and identifying advocates and professional services to be offered to employees

This business landing page, or toolkit, can be found on the United Way of Central Minnesota website.

There are many ways that employers can partner, explore, and implement solutions that will assist employees, while also assisting their business to remain profitable and thriving.


We know that the change needed is bigger than this one (1) group can create, but we do feel we can make a great difference together.  In our short time, we have been a part of many, state, and even national discussions with political leaders.  Joining the conversations with other groups, legislators, news outlets, groups, boards, businesses, and individuals has led to specific meetings, business pitches, offerings, forums, and many ideas to better the situation in Central Minnesota and beyond.

Through our focus on childcare solutions, we have been a part of incredible opportunities to make, what we feel, is real and lasting change within this industry.  This is positive movement.  Now, we need more people in our community involved continuing to do the legwork.  We see so much opportunity for even a better community, but it will take a much larger team of local employers and passionate community members focused on our children AND economic success for our families.  What can you do to make a difference for our future in Central Minnesota?




On February 29, we launched the new Industry Innovators Forums, a dynamic educational series tailored for corporate-level investors. A group of over 20 individuals gathered to delve into how the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline grant program can support their workforce development initiatives.  A special thank you to DeZURIK, Inc. for graciously hosting the event, and a heartfelt appreciation to the following presenters for sharing their valuable insights and expertise:

– Karl Nohner, CentraCare Health System, Inc.
– Judy Weyrens, DeZURIK, Inc.
– Jessica Wells, Two Rivers Enterprise’s Inc.
– Dan Solomon, MN Dept. of Labor and Industry
– Jacquelyn Mol Sletten, MN Office of Higher Education



Discover how the GSDC and the Greater St. Cloud region took center stage in the February edition of “Business in Focus” magazine. Explore the in-depth coverage and insightful features showcasing the thriving business landscape and promising opportunities in our community.

Read the full story



In 2024, we are highlighting a different corporate or advocate-level GSDC investor each month.

In March, we are spotlighting CentraCare, a founding corporate-investor of the GSDC, has been serving Central Minnesota for over a century. Since the establishment of St. Cloud Hospital in 1886, CentraCare has evolved to become one of the largest health systems in Minnesota, offering cutting-edge advancements in care, technology, and treatments.

Learn more about CentraCare



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Contact Our Staff Team

NeTia Bauman, CEcD, CEO & President | 320.437.1430

Leslie Dingmann, CecD, EDFP, Business Development Director | 320.493.9003

Gail Cruikshank, Talent Director | 320.260.6775

Tammy Campion, Communications Specialist | 320.252.5185