• Engage Leaders: Broadband Investment – Critical Infrastructure for Economic Growth
  • Grow Business: Announcing the Fall 2021 gBETA Cohort
  • Expand Talent: More Minnesotans Return to Work
  • Shape Tomorrow:
    • Brenny Transportation Named Top Workplace for Women
    • Rasmussen University Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast
  • Insights & Inspirations:
    • CSB Boarding School Histories and Healing
    • Maya Angelou Will be First Women on U.S. Quarters Coming in 2022

Engage Leaders

Broadband Investment – Critical Infrastructure for Economic Growth

The availability of quality broadband service has become and will continue to be a key issue for communities looking to attract both business and residential growth. While our region has made significant fiber infrastructure improvements over the last several years, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fact that large coverage gaps still exist.

In partnership with the Initiative Foundation, community leaders from Benton, Stearns and Sherburne County recently participated in a virtual “Enhancing Our Regional Broadband Capacity” event on September 23rd that focused on finding solutions to fill those regional coverage gaps. Participants included elected officials, telecommunications service providers, representatives from DEED’s Office of Broadband Development, and several community members looking to work together to improve availability and use of high-speed broadband services.

With the current available funding at both the state and federal levels, we have a unique and amazing opportunity to advance connectivity like never before. We know there is not enough funding for every project and every community, so it is imperative that we determine the most effective strategies to maximize our impact. Now more than ever, providers are looking to develop partnerships in an effort to extend their networks to areas that may not have been financially feasible in the past. The meeting provided a great opportunity to develop connections and provide meaningful action items for attendees to take away.

The event can be viewed in its entirety here.

Findings from the event were shared at the statewide Blandin Broadband Conference that was held virtually on October 12-14.

Dan Weber is assistant Sherburne County administrator and a member of the Initiative Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Don Hickman is vice president for community and workforce development at the Initiative Foundation. Aligned to Initiative Foundation community and workforce goals and priorities, both are longtime advocates for regional broadband expansion to create access and opportunity for all.


Dan Weber

Assistant Sherburne County Administrator


Don Hickman

Vice President for Regional Broadband Expansion and Development

Grow Business

Announcing the Fall 2021 gBETA Cohort

Below are the five companies that make up the Fall 2021 gBETA Cohort.

Backhouse Brands – Help restaurants leverage excess kitchen capacity to grow and expand their business through virtual brands, while meeting local consumer demand for greater food choices.

Kavira Health – A subscription-based ‘Minute Clinic on wheels,’ sold as an employee benefit.

Inveterate – The only video based candidate sourcing platform that will change the way corporations meet and vet potential candidates.

Smart Beehives – Uses an IoT solution that allows beekeepers to have real-time data showing the condition of their hive and bees thus providing a healthier colony.

Farmer’s Pantry Market – Farmer’s Pantry Market helps deliver fresh food, beginning with dairy products, to communities in the Greater St. Cloud area through the use of drop boxes.


The program began on Monday, October 25, and will end with a pitch night on Monday, December 13th. Joe Sullivan, Director of gBETA Greater MN – St. Cloud, was featured in Minne Inno’s Under 25 up-and-coming pioneers of 2021!


Expand Talent

More Minnesotans Return to Work

We are encouraged by the positive uptick in applications coming into many of our employers over the last few weeks allowing employers to have a larger pool to tap into in their selection of candidates. We encourage you to share your successes and challenges in recruitment and retention with Gail Cruikshank so we can highlight the great efforts along with help brainstorm the challenges. GSDC shares recruitment resources here.

DEED provides the following update on job growth gain and unemployment rate ticking down.


More Minnesotans Return to Work; Job Growth Outpaces U.S. 

State’s unemployment rate ticks down, labor force participation inches up 

Minnesota gained 17,100 jobs, up 0.6% in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to numbers released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Minnesota’s private sector gained 17,700 jobs, up 0.7% in September. The U.S. gained 194,000 jobs, up 0.1% in September, with the private sector adding 317,000 jobs, up 0.3%.

Minnesota’s unemployment rate ticked down one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.7% in September due to people moving out of unemployment and into employment. The U.S. unemployment rate fell four-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8% in September. Minnesota’s labor force participation rate inched up one-tenth of a percentage point to 67.9%. The U.S. labor force participation rate ticked down one-tenth of a percentage point to 61.6% in September.

Minnesota lost 416,300 jobs from February through April 2020 and has since gained 289,700 jobs, or 70% of the jobs lost on a seasonally adjusted basis. The private sector has regained 72% of the jobs lost.

“Job growth is up, and so are wages – that’s a good thing,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “Still, our labor market is incredibly tight, and our agency is committed to continuing to invest in innovative partnerships and solutions to help businesses find workers.”

Average wages in Minnesota and nationally have gone up significantly over the past year as a result of the tight labor market. Average hourly earnings for all private sector workers rose 25 cents to $32.97 in September over the month. Over the year, average hourly earnings rose $1.17, up 3.7% and since September 2019 they are up 7.4%. Nationally private sector wages rose 4.7% over the year and 8.9% over two years. Looking back further, the average annual percent change between September 2007 and September 2021 in Minnesota was 2.9% for all private sector worker compared to 3.7% over the year in 2021, so average wages recently have risen faster than is typical. Read the full press release.


Shape Tomorrow

Brenny Transportation, Inc. Named Top Workplace for Women in Transportation

 Brenny Transportation, Inc. Named Top Workplace for Women to Work in Transportation. “Brenny is extremely honored to win this award for the third year in a row. What distinguishes Brenny as a Top Workplace for women is: women at Brenny are recognized more than normal of others in the trucking industry. Women are encouraged to be strong and confident. The family-friendly culture at Brenny is one of respect. Women are pushed to be the absolute best for the trucking industry. Everyone’s voice at Brenny is heard and no one is judged. We go above and beyond to treat women drivers and team members with utmost respect. The Brenny team is about lifting each other up and helping each other grow and succeed.” Read the full press release.


Rasmussen University Annual Women’s Leadership Breakfast

 Join Rasmussen University virtually on Friday, October 29, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. (Central) to hear from author, award-winning podcast creator and keynote speaker, Nora Mclnerny. Nora is passionate about difficult and important conversations. In the past year, one of the most challenging topics for many of us has been “getting back to normal.” What does that really mean? What is normal? During this event, Nora will give her perspective on this and other relevant issues including perfectionism and mental health.

You can register for this no-cost event here.


Insights & Inspirations

CSB Boarding School Histories and Healing Course

“The Native American boarding school program of the 19th and 20th centuries is a historical chapter that deserves some more examination – both nationally and specifically in Minnesota. Join us in November for this four-week virtual mini-course. Instructors Jaime Arsenault (Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa) and Ted Gordon (CSB/SJU Visiting Assistant Professor in the Integrations Program) will provide a broad context regarding the origins and long-standing impacts of Native American boarding schools – including a special focus on the role of Benedictines in the administration of these schools, and the steps everyone can take to promote healing.” Register here.



Maya Angelou Will be First Woman on U.S. Quarters Coming in 2022

Did you know that over the next four years, the American Women Quarters Program will release “20 new quarter designs featuring pioneering American women of the past”? The first two women – Maya Angelou and Sally Ride – have been announced and their designs are currently in process. 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

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

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