• Engage Leaders: Mahowald Honored for Work Improving Employee Wellbeing
  • Grow Business: Visit from DEED Commissioner, Steve Grove
  • Expand Talent: College of Saint Benedict Introduces Inaugural Graduate Nursing Programs in Partnership with Saint John’s University
  • Shape Tomorrow:
    • Last Call for GSDC 2021 Innovation Awards – Apply or Nominate Today!
    • 2021 Optimist Club Friend of Youth Award
  • Insights and Inspirations: How people – not just policies – make or break inclusive workplaces

Engage Leaders: Mahowald Honored for Work Improving Employee Wellbeing

Mahowald Insurance, one of Minnesota’s leading insurance agencies, has been honored by the Granite Companies with the Advisor Cornerstone Award. The award acknowledges Mahowald’s positive contributions to Granite Companies employees’ overall health and wellbeing through improved employee benefits packages. Mahowald team members Bob Mahowald (Advisor), Bridget Faber (Director of Benefits), Scott Klinkhammer (Benefits Account Executive) and Kristin Rademacher (Benefits Account Executive) were recognized for their expertise in growing the benefits of more than 2,000 employees across the Granite Companies.

Mahowald’s partnership with the Granite Companies began in 2017, when Granite Partners and the Granite HR Affinity group began collaborating with the Mahowald team on reviewing, benchmarking and improving the various employee benefits packages offered. The Mahowald team advised Granite Companies in choosing providers and designing solutions that would better serve employees and provide a long-term advantage to hiring and employee satisfaction. The Granite Companies have since reported a significant, positive impact in employee recruiting, retention and engagement thanks to their partnership with Mahowald.

In 2020, Mahowald enhanced the employee communication experience by creating customized videos for Granite Companies’ employees. These digital experiences brought vital information to not only employees of Granite Companies but their family members too.

Mahowald grounds their work in their 90-year philosophy, Mahowald Cares, which focuses on the five cornerstones of wellbeing: Social, Physical, Career, Community and Financial wellness. Mahowald Cares fosters active employee stewardship of community wellness through annual office-wide projects, community service throughout Central Minnesota, and 20 paid hours of non-profit volunteer work per employee per year. For Scott Klinkhammer, one of the award recipients, the relationship between Mahowald’s approach to wellbeing and Granite Partners’ success is simple: “Our Mahowald Cares philosophy is a great match with Granite Partners’ mission of growing companies & enhancing communities. We believe that if we do things right, we can provide increasing value to everyone: companies, employees, and the community.” Klinkhammer also went on to say, “We put our hearts into our work and are thrilled with our collective results.”

Granite Partners is a private investment and holding company founded in 2002 in St. Cloud. The company expressed its gratitude to Mahowald as long-term partners and stated that “[Granite Partners] looks forward to continuing to strive toward world-class wellbeing together.”

Grow Business

GSDC Congratulates Roundtable Conversation with DEED Commissioner, Steve Grove

The GSDC was invited to host DEED Commissioner Steve Grove and regional business leaders for a roundtable conversation on Thursday, July 22nd, as part of DEED’s Economic Recovery Tour. In addition to highlights of the Jobs Bill features approved by the legislature, conversations centered around workforce availability and childcare, two pieces that are vital to economic recovery.

Thank you, Commissioner Grove, for the visit, information sharing, and inviting feedback and suggestions from business and community leaders from the greater St. Cloud region.

Expand Talent

College of Saint Benedict Introduces Inaugural Graduate Nursing Programs in Partnership with Saint John’s University

Increased demand for advanced nurse practitioners and nurse leaders, and continued investment in CSB/SJU’s reputable nurse education programs is driving the launch of CSB’s first graduate programs.

The College of Saint Benedict (CSB), in partnership with Saint John’s University (SJU), will welcome the first cohort of students into their new graduate nursing programs beginning in fall semester, 2021.

The program will offer two distinct options:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) – Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track. This track prepares actively practicing RNs to care for patients across their lifespan. FNP students will learn how to complete comprehensive health assessments, order appropriate diagnostic tests, complete advanced level procedural skills, manage and diagnose acute and chronic conditions and serve as a primary health care provider in a variety of settings.
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice – Leadership track. This track will empower individuals to rise to new levels of leadership. They’ll develop specialized expertise to become an agent for change in the evolving health care landscape. Students will also be equipped to pursue roles where they will be responsible for managing nursing staff and serve as a source of knowledge for a team.

Options for both post-master’s program entry and direct Bachelor of Science in nursing-to-DNP are available. A third option, a Master of Science in nursing, is currently in development for launch in fall 2022.

All programs will be offered in hybrid format, a combination of in-classroom and online. Designed for working professionals, the format allows students maximum flexibility while connecting with a consistent cohort of students. Unique components of the program include the elective for specialty care areas and guaranteed clinical placement.

According to Hanover Research, the labor market for nurse practitioners in Minnesota is expected to increase by 27.8% by 2026, indicating faster than average growth. Nurse practitioners can provide patient care in a variety of practice settings, including homes, hospitals, offices, schools, community health centers, rural health centers, public and private clinics along with private practices.

More and more health care systems require nurse leaders and educators to hold a minimum master’s level education, contributing to the growing demand.

The CSB/SJU Nursing Department is ranked in the top three of 14 programs in Minnesota by College Factual. “Our undergraduate program is known for producing exceptional registered nurses. We plan to build on that strong reputation to develop exceptional graduate nursing programs,” said Dr. Jennifer Peterson (CSB class of 1998), DNP, APRN, FNP-C, CNOR, the graduate nursing chair. “This program is a response to need in the community and demand from our alums and prospective students, and it sets our graduates up to improve the future of health care.”

So far, the response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. The school’s first online information sessions drew more than 50 participants.

Other program highlights include:

  • Eligibility to become licensed and nationally certified as a family nurse practitioner
  • Eligibility to become certified as a nurse educator and/or nurse executive
  • One-to-one mentorship for DNP project
  • Graduate assistant teaching scholarships available
  • Discounted tuition for CSB/SJU graduates, CentraCare and Veterans Affairs employees
  • Part-time options may be available.


Those interested in the program can visit csbsju.edu/graduate-nursing-programs or contact Assistant Professor of Nursing Dr. Jennifer Peterson, chair of the graduate program, at 320-363-5194.



Shape Tomorrow

2021 GSDC Innovation Awards 

The GSDC is taking nominations for our 2021 Innovation Awards. Do you know a business or organization doing innovative work in our community? Apply or nominate a business today.

Since 2012, the GSDC has recognized 30 area organizations for their innovative approaches to problem solving and creating opportunities. At our All Investors and Partners meeting on November 4, 2021, we will honor four organizations: an emerging for-profit company, an established for-profit company and two non-profit organizations. Each will also receive a $1,000 award, an attractive trophy, and be featured in a professional video produced to showcase their innovation.

Information about nominating candidates and applying for the awards can be found at www.GreaterStCloud.com/innovation. Organizations are also encouraged to nominate themselves.

Applications and nominations are due by the end of the day on Friday, July 30, 2021.



2021 Optimist Club Friend of Youth Award

Each year, the St. Cloud Morning Optimist Club recognizes outstanding individuals and businesses/organizations that have provided assistance to organizations that serve youth in our communities.

Congratulations to Gail Cruikshank, GSDC Talent Director, for being nominated and selected as a 2021 Friend of Youth Award winner. Through the focus of the Expand Talent Team, GSDC coordinates and collaborates with several community organizations, employers, and partners to help provide career exploration opportunities for our youth. We strongly believe in the importance of helping them select careers best aligned to their passions and skills. Through this work, the GSDC supports our employers in the greater St. Cloud region achieve continued growth and success.

Insights & Inspirations

How people – not just policies – make or break inclusive workplaces

Content by McKinsey & Company

“Slogans, policies, trainings, fancy marketing, or communication campaigns alone do not create inclusion. Inclusion comes by also changing how employees and leaders behave toward each other, designing supporting organizational systems, and actively encouraging employees to leverage these systems. To make meaningful shifts in interpersonal relationships, employees must understand how their behaviors contribute to or detract from inclusion and then adopt easy, concrete ways to act differently.” Read the full article.



Contact Our Staff Team

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

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

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

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