• Engage Leaders: Message from Board Chair, Brian Myres: Cheers to 10 Years!
  • Grow Business: Reinventing Our Communities (ROC) Cohort Program
  • Expand Talent: Are you an employer of choice?
  • Shape Tomorrow: GSDC 2021 Innovation Awards
  • Insights and Inspirations: Diverse Voices Press

Engage Leaders: Message from Board Chair, Brian Myres

Cheers to 10 Years!

It is summer and time to celebrate!  After many months of being distant from each other and “zoomed” out from countless electronic meetings, we are looking forward to gathering safely again.
The way our community came together over the past 15 months has been inspiring. We’ve worked alongside one another to celebrate milestones and sat with one another to grieve the loss of life or connection that many endured.

While the pandemic put a lot of stress on each one of us as well as our businesses and organizations, there still have been some silver linings. We have learned to appreciate our friends and family in a different way than before and not take for granted our health and our connections with one another. Many business practices were forced to change, leading to lasting innovations that will help our organizations thrive in the future. Through it all, the GSDC upped its game on collaboration with area business leaders, local and state government, and other nonprofits in even more effective ways to make progress on our four strategic imperatives of Engaging Leaders, Growing Business, Expanding Talent and Shaping Tomorrow to improve the economic vitality of our region. We are grateful for the partnerships we have formed and strengthened in and around our community.

This year, as we celebrate GSDC’s 10 year anniversary, I ask that you join me in forging ahead with a renewed sense of purpose, appreciation, and commitment to one another as we strive to make our organizations and community inclusive and equitable for all.


Brian Myres

GSDC Board Chair



Grow Business

Reinventing Our Communities (ROC) Cohort Program

The Philadelphia Fed’s Reinventing Our Communities (ROC) Cohort Program elevates partnerships with Federal Reserve Banks across the country and engages in communities to create lasting local change. The 2021 program targets nine communities across the U.S., bringing together experts and stakeholders for a 10-month training program to promote equitable small business recovery from the pandemic.

Cohorts, comprising cross-sector community partners, will explore solutions to community-based needs for financing and access to credit for small business owners of color, promote small business ownership as a means of wealth building, and support small businesses to scale to become community employers, thus creating more equitable and sustainable regional economies.

In addition to the Minnesota cohort, communities from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Florida, and Nevada were selected to participate in the 2021 program. The Initiative Foundation was recently selected by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve to lead the Minnesota cohort and to invite a small contingent of organizations to join as a partner in this program offering.

GSDC President, Patti Gartland, and Business Development Director, Leslie Dingmann, are honored to participate in the Central MN cohorts with colleagues from the Initiative Foundation (Matt Varilek), Long Prairie Chamber of Commerce (Luan Thomas-Brunkhorst), Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures (Dustin Goslin), Higher Works Collaborative (Pastor James Alberts II) , Latino Economic Development Center (Henry Jimenez, Enrique Blanco), US Bank (Jim Sathre, Scott Lahr), Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization (Shirwa Adan), and St. Cloud State University (Dr. Monica Garcia-Perez, Dr. King Banaian).


Expand Talent


Are you an Employer of Choice? Content Provided by 4 Corner Resources


In the simplest terms, an employer of choice is a company that candidates want to work for. Some of the defining characteristics of employers of choice are strong leadership, competitive pay, engaged workers, meaningful work, and an attractive company culture.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for becoming an employer of choice. One company’s approach may look very different from another’s, and yet they can both meet the criteria for the distinction. The overarching theme of becoming an employer of choice is being the best employer you can be for the types of employees you want to attract and retain.


As we look to come out of the pandemic and government subsidies more than likely will come to an end, your organization needs to be ready for an influx of applicants seeking employment.  Will you be ready in September?  Do you have recruitment and retention initiatives in place to not only attract but retain your new and existing talent?

Being an employer of choice comes with many benefits, most of which pertain to hiring and retention. Some key reasons for striving to become an employer of choice are higher retention of your talent, ability to compete on factors other than salary and ease of hiring.


Pay Workers Fairly

Competitive salaries are one of the most useful and direct tools for attracting top talent. When you pay your workers fairly, they feel more valued, have a higher level of trust in the organization and are more engaged with their jobs.

It’s important to note that there’s a distinction between “high” and “fair” when it comes to salaries. In a PayScale study² of more than half a million workers, employee satisfaction was more influenced by the worker’s perception that they were paid fairly rather than the actual amount of their compensation. The basics are a must – health insurance, retirement, paid time off, sick leave. Other things are quickly becoming musts – flexible work and family leave.

Respect and Empower Employees

Employers of choice foster workplaces where employees are given clear direction on what’s expected of them and feel confident in their ability to make decisions to meet those expectations. Employees are treated equally regardless of their job title or level of seniority, without the perception that anyone is given preferential treatment.

You can foster a culture of empowerment by awarding recognition where it’s deserved and giving clear and constructive feedback when expectations aren’t being met.

Provide Opportunities for Growth

Investing in employee development like training and industry conferences helps boost retention and promote innovation. But formal programs like these aren’t the only way you can help employees grow and thrive within the company.

Offer workers the chance to get involved with activities that go beyond their normal scope of work, like speaking at company events, being involved in focus groups, or taking part in candidate interviews. These engage workers on a different level than their primary job function, extending their connection with the company and contributing to employer-of-choice status.

Be Transparent

Now more than ever, employees crave transparency.  When employees feel a sense of ambiguousness—be it about their job security, the company’s direction, or their manager’s decisions—they trust their colleagues less, feel less loyalty to the company and are less motivated to perform.

The solution is to create transparency by keeping employees informed. Employers of choice share information openly and frequently with employees, from the company’s financial performance to the reasoning behind organizational decisions to its long-term growth strategy. Rather than feeling like the “last to know” when it comes to workplace news, they feel like an active, engaged member of the team, which makes them want to stick around.

Be a Leader, Not a Follower

Google is often held up as a shining example of an employer of choice. One of its defining characteristics as a company is that it’s not afraid to go its own way, even if that means taking a totally different path from what everyone else is doing. While not all employers of choice are shooting rockets into space or solving world hunger, they all do share the common thread of fearlessly paving their own way independent of what the rest of the industry or market is focused on.

Focus on the Benefits That Matter

Basic benefits like health insurance, employer-sponsored retirement, paid vacation time and sick leave are a given for employers of choice. Other in-demand benefits like flexible work schedules and paid family leave are quickly becoming must-haves, as well.

Employers of choice focus on the benefits that actually matter and bring measurable value to the employees they wish to attract. They listen and respond to their employee priorities.

Give Back

The most engaged employees feel a sense of connection with their organizations that goes beyond everyday job duties. Employees feel more connected to their company culture when they have an opportunity to participate in charitable events through their workplace or volunteer within the community.

Employers of choice have missions that are driven by more than just profits; rather, their efforts contribute to a greater purpose that benefits the community or society as a whole.

Is your company an Employer of Choice?

Provided by:


Shape Tomorrow

2021 GSDC Innovation Awards 

The GSDC is now seeking nominations and applications for our 10th annual Innovation Awards, created to recognize originality among non-profit and for-profit organizations.

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.



Insights & Inspirations

Diverse Voices Press

Congratulations to our friends and GSDC investor, Filsan Talent Partners, Hudda and Abdi, for the launch of Diverse Voices Press, “an independent publishing company and social enterprise based in Minnesota, with a mission to publish inclusive books by underrepresented voices. We are here to work with anyone interested in non-fiction, fiction, and young readers books. We help authors willing to offer accurate information and promote a positive worldview.”

Visit their Facebook page and read this St. Cloud Times article to learn 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

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

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