• Engage Leaders: Initiative Foundation – Initiators Fellowship
  • Grow Business: Great North Labs Announces 2nd Fund and Startup Studio
  • Expand Talent:
    • COVID-19 Impact on Employment
    • Volunteer with VEX Robotics
  • Shape Tomorrow:
    • COVID-19 Vaccine Education with Jugaad Leadership Program
    • Star Tribune Journalism Webinar with GSDC Board Chair, Brian Myres
  • Insights and Inspirations: SCSU earns Military Friendly Top 10 Designation

Engage Leaders: Initiative Foundation – Initiators Fellowship

Greetings, GSDC friends!

Investing in the people and communities of Central Minnesota has been a central tenet of the Initiative Foundation since its founding 35 years ago. Through the Initiators Fellowship, four Greater Minnesota community foundations—the Initiative Foundation, Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative—are continuing the legacy that began in the 1980s.

We’re excited to share that recruitment is now under way for the 2022-2023 cohort of the Initiators Fellowship. This program was created by the Initiative Foundation in 2016 with significant leadership and support from GSDC Board Member Rick Bauerly and his firm, Granite Partners. The fellowship provides wrap-around training, mentoring and guidance—plus a $60,000 stipend over two years—to support Fellows and their social enterprise ideas to improve their Greater Minnesota communities.

We encourage you to think about your professional networks and community connections. Is there a potential Fellow in your midst? Are you a potential candidate for the Initiators Fellowship? Take our online eligibility quiz or invite a friend and join us at 11 a.m. on April 8 for an informational webinar. Comb through our website resources and FAQs and learn more about current Fellows like Hamdia Mohamed, who is gaining confidence, insights and expanding her network to grow Victory Plus, her sober-home solution serving the greater St. Cloud area.

“The single most important thing I took from the Fellowship so far is that anything is possible when you surround yourself with other like-minded and motivated individuals,” said Mohamed, who is in her second year of the two-year program. “In this program you have a lot of opportunities for personal growth, for your business to be exposed and for a lot of doors to be opened for you. I appreciate everything the Initiative Foundation is doing to help us help our community.”

Here are four simple ways you can help spread the word:

  • Forward this email to a friend. (Or two. Or three.)
  • Use the power of word-of-mouth and share the Initiators Fellowship opportunity with your professional and social networks.
  • Like, share and comment on our social media content: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
  • Add information about the Initiators Fellowship to your newsletter and share it via social media.

Thank you,

Matt Varilek

President, Initiative Foundation

GSDC Board Member





Grow Business

Great North Labs Announces 2nd Fund and Startup Studio

GSDC Investor Great North Labs, which will be renamed Great North Ventures, has been busy recently. Great North Ventures, home to Minnesota’s largest debut seed fund, is raising a second round of funds to invest in startups in the Upper Midwest. To read more, click HERE. Additionally, Great North Ventures announced the launch of a venture studio that will work with entrepreneurs to support and grow their businesses. To read more about this startup studio, click HERE.

Ryan and Rob Weber of Great North Ventures have been great partners to GSDC and an asset in the entrepreneurial and startup visioning for the Greater St. Cloud region. We are excited for what the second round of their fund will do, and look forward to continued work with their startup studio to support the entrepreneurial and startup founders that exist right here in Greater St. Cloud.


Expand Talent

COVID-19 Impact on Employment

Every quarter, the Labor Market Information (LMI) Office of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) publishes a slate of research articles that offer insights into important labor market trends.

“In the March 2021 edition of Minnesota Economic Trends, LMI analysts provide information about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected employment as well as how and where we work. Articles in the current edition of Minnesota Economic Trends also include a look at which areas of study are mostly likely to result in a job working in a graduate’s field that pays a living wage, a wage scale proposal to address recruitment and retention issues in the early care and education industry, plus an analysis of wage gaps between white Minnesotans and Black, Indigenous and People of Color that start right after high school.”

Our local Labor Market Analyst, Luke Greiner, highlighted funding allocation for education in his article:  Popular or Pragmatic

Popular or Pragmatic: Considering College Instructional Program Decisions 

With enrollments fluctuating and student interests changing, Minnesota’s higher education institutions can benefit from better understanding the relationship between the selection of major and the resulting employment outcomes that graduates experience.

If students are not adequately informed about the consequences of their instructional program choices and outcomes based on the experience of past graduates from those programs, they may make decisions that have a negative impact on their employment and economic stability throughout their lives. Future wage growth is not consistent across programs and the need to invest more time and money to secure a living wage even after completion of a four-year degree might not be what graduates were expecting.

Review additional articles here:

How the Deck is Stacked: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Earnings Following High School Graduation in Minnesota

Q4 Jobs Forecast: Robust Growth in Minnesota 

The Shape of a Recession 

Teleworking During the Pandemic 

Minnesota Early Care and Education Wage Scale 

VEX Robotics State Championship Volunteers Needed

GSDC has identified STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) careers as an elevated strategic priority for our region. VEX Robotics Tournament provides a great opportunity to help support and develop our future workforce in this area. 

With the Annual VEX Robotics State Championship quickly approaching on April 10th and April 15-17, volunteers are needed. VEX Robotics has competitors from K -12 grades design their own robot from scratch and compete in a competitive robotics tournament by performing a certain task. Volunteers are needed for various roles; most require no knowledge of VEX Robotics.  

Sign up HERE to volunteer for the event on April 10th at Kimball High School for the younger students (IQ). 

Sign up HERE to volunteer for the event on April 15-17th at Rivers Edge Convention Center for the older students (EDR). 

Please consider donating your time to help make this a successful event. Together we are supporting our students as they become our future workforce. 

Shape Tomorrow

COVID-19 Education with Jugaad Leadership Program

Learn more about the community discussion HERE.


Star Tribune Webinar: Quality Journalism

Join Paul Kasbohm, Star Tribune Chief Revenue Officer and Star Tribune Executive Editor and Senior Vice President, Rene Sanchez, as they discuss what you can expect from our newly-expanded St. Cloud coverage and daily newsletter. They’ll also be joined by St. Cloud’s own Brian Myres from the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation to talk about the importance of covering the area with quality journalism and the essential support of local St. Cloud businesses.

Register for the event HERE.


Insights and Inspirations

St. Cloud State Earns Military Friendly Top 10 Designation

St. Cloud State University has earned the 2021 Military Friendly® Top 10 School designation and is ranked No. 4 in the Large Public category, up two spots from 2020.

SCSU exceeded Military Friendly standards on every measure.

As a Top 10 school, SCSU is among the Top 10 in our scoring category with an overall rank of 4 in the Large Public school category. Top 10 schools are seen by Military Friendly as setting “the standard for other designations and are programs that continue to improve every year.”

“This designation given to St. Cloud State helps us explain our commitment and our story to the military and veteran communities in Minnesota and across the country,” said Zac Mangas, SCSU Veterans Resource Center director. “We aren’t just telling prospective students we are a veteran or military-friendly campus. We are gathering data, sharing programs and discussing support systems created that help this community be successful.” Read more.



Contact Our Staff Team

Patti Gartland, President
pgartland@greaterstcloud.com | 320-260-2442

Leslie Dingmann, Business Development Director
ldingmann@greaterstcloud.com | 320-493-9003

Larry Hosch, Business Development Director 
lhosch@greaterstcloud.com | 320-761-4570

Gail Cruikshank, Talent Director 
gcruikshank@greaterstcloud.com | 320-260-6775

Amelia Barkley, Communications & Program Specialist 
abarkley@greaterstcloud.com | 320-292-9296