Updates from the GSDC

February 23

  • Engage Leaders: Partnering with the GSDC to Support the Manufacturing Industry – Dan Soldner, President of Vye
  • Grow Business: GSDC Receives a Second Grant from DEED to Expand Role as a Launch Minnesota Hub
  • Expand Talent:
    • Solving the Childcare Crisis through a Community Collaborative
    • Are you our next entrepreneur?
  • Shape Tomorrow:
    • Xcel Energy Reaches Wind Energy Milestone
    • Around Cloud Tutors is Ready to Connect with your K-12 Student
  • Insights & Inspirations: Embracing Black History Month

Engage Leaders

Partnering with the GSDC to Support the Manufacturing Industry

One of GSDC’s four strategic imperatives is “Engage Leaders”. The GSDC brings community leaders together so their combined thinking and resources have a much greater impact on our region’s vitality than would be possible with only a few people acting alone.

We extend a warm welcome to Vye, a new GSDC Advocate Investor! 
At Vye (previously Leighton Interactive), we work with clients from a variety of industries and backgrounds. Manufacturing, in particular, has been a focus area for us. With many client partners in the sector, our team is passionate about helping this industry grow and thrive in Central MN. Over the course of 2020, we saw a major shift in the sector—unlike anything we’ve seen before. To say that the Covid-19 pandemic put manufacturing companies at risk is an understatement. From production lows and shutdowns to production overload (in some cases, upwards of 180% capacity) coupled with supply chain pressures driven by unrealistic timelines and materials and logistics challenges. All of this, while enforcing new safety protocols in order to ward off an untimely shutdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

As we watched our manufacturing partners go through these tremendous challenges, we saw a trend emerge. High demand for talent. Many companies are in need of qualified candidates. In a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, one in six businesses in the region said their biggest challenge currently is labor availability.

Knowing our manufacturing partners are facing this challenge, we set out to create a resource—in partnership with the GSDC—to help them and the Central MN manufacturing community at large with the challenge of recruitment and retention. This resource is informed by our best practices and success in the inbound marketing space and includes input from the Central MN manufacturing community. To build the resource, we distributed a survey to local manufacturing companies to gather data that will substantiate our recommendations. In addition, Vye and the GSDC hosted a roundtable with local manufacturing leadership on Feb. 16. We aim to launch the resource to the public in early March. Interested in learning more or contributing? Email Clare Richards at clare@vye.agency. To learn more about the recent roundtable, hear Clare and Dan talk about it live by clicking the image below.

At Vye, our goal is to help our client partners win. We do this by expertly blending data, technology, and creativity to drive measurable results. We have evolved over the years as our offering and expertise has expanded from solely web and digital solutions to include strategy and brand development, research, analytics and assessment, automation, campaign planning, sales enablement and more. I invite you to learn more about what we do at Vye. 

Dan Soldner
President, Vye

Grow Business

Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation Receives a Second Grant from DEED to Expand Role as a Launch Minnesota Hub

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) recently announced that it has awarded a $65,000 Launch Minnesota grant to the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation for the GSDC’s use in assisting innovators and entrepreneurs. DEED awarded the GSDC a $60,000 Launch Minnesota grant in 2020.

Launch Minnesota was begun by DEED last year, in consultation with legislators and dozens of private sector leaders, to grow Minnesota’s startup ecosystem. DEED created six regions and seven hubs around the state, with the GSDC selected as the hub for the West Central Minnesota Region that stretches from Moorhead to St. Cloud to the Brainerd Lakes Area.

These grants are pass-through dollars, going directly to fund valuable training programs that help innovators turn their ideas into reality. In the past year, these grants helped train nearly 50 entrepreneurs, nine of whom have already raised a combined $180,000 to get their projects off the ground.

The Greater St. Cloud area is unlike any other in Minnesota, in that it is home to the new ILT Academy and is the only region in Greater Minnesota with a nationally-ranked accelerator program, one of just 21 gBETA programs in the United States.

St. Cloud’s ILT Academy offers an expansive, 20-week program that identifies and helps innovators refine and develop their new-business ideas. The majority of the DEED grants fund tuition for ILT Academy participants whose ideas have the greatest potential for success. Additional information about the accredited, certificate level program is at https://iltacademy.io/programs/launch-mn-2021/.

gBETA, part of the startup accelerator called gener8tor, conducts a more in-depth, seven-week program open to just five early-stage companies at a time. DEED’s grants have also allowed gBETA to expand from offering one cohort per year to two for regional entrepreneurs. Applications for the next gBETA cohort, available at https://www.gbetastartups.com/greater-mn-st-cloud, must be submitted by March 13th.

Expand Talent

Solving the Childcare Crisis through a Community Collaborative

The childcare crisis we face in Central MN is not new, but the pandemic has intensified the issue. To ensure the economic growth of our community, cross sector collaboration is needed.

In January 2019, GSDC along with United Way, Initiative Foundation, SCSU and several other community partners highlighted this challenge through an education event where over 50 area employers and partners came together to learn and share ideas.

As childcare challenges continued to mount during the pandemic, identifying solutions for our region became one of GSDC’s 5 elevated priorities brought forth through industry sector round table discussions convened in June 2020.

Ensuring we have childcare systems working in our community will not only help our community thrive but also aids in employee retention of your teams to ensure continue business growth and stability.

Click HERE to read February 22’s feature in the St. Cloud Times about the collaborative work happening to solve the childcare crisis in Central MN.

Are you our next entrepreneur?

WJON hosts “Get a Job” radio show with GSDC’s own talent director, Gail Cruikshank, every 3rd Monday at 8:15 a.m.

Advancing and growing business startups/entrepreneurial ecosystems is a top GSDC priority. To help us highlight the great work being done in our community and its relation to jobs and talent retention, we invited Nick Tietz, Founder and CEO of ILT Studios, to join our February radio interview. Our topic: Entrepreneurism. Are you our next Entrepreneur?

Take a listen here: https://www.greaterstcloud.com/radio/

Shape Tomorrow

Xcel Energy Reaches Wind Energy Milestone

This past week was an “all hands on deck” scenario, as we closely monitored our electric and gas systems during the bitter cold stretch. Our electric grid in the upper Midwest is resilient because we have a diverse and balanced mix of electricity generation. We are also part of Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization. MISO plays a critical role ensuring that the energy grid is meeting our customers’ needs. The following web page provides an overview of MISO: About MISO (misoenergy.org).

In the spirit of having diverse and increasingly clean energy mix, we are pleased to have reached a significant milestone. At the end of 2020, Xcel Energy became one of the first energy providers in the United States to reach 10,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity online for our customers. The milestone is powered by the company’s 10 new wind projects in the Upper Midwest, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. While many projects are already completed, all the projects will be online by year’s end, completing the largest multi-state wind investment in the country. As new projects continue to come online in 2021, the company estimates about a third of the energy we provide to customers in the region will come from wind by the end of the year.

Mark Osendorf
Xcel Energy

Manager, Community Relations and Economic Development

Insights & Inspirations

Embracing Black History Month

Watch: Hidden Figures (Find it on multiple streaming services)

ReadRacial Prejudice in the American Education System