Young minds gathered on Friday, August 14 for the Greater Minnesota Rising (GMR) focus group in Alexandria.

GMR is a research and community engagement project in North Central and West Central Minnesota working to outline the region’s assets and challenges related to workforce needs and community vitality. The project is also working toward developing recommendations for engaging local emerging leaders and community organizations in Northwestern Minnesota.

Chet Bodin, the outreach and field lead for GMR, and Brooke McManigal, research assistant, met with seven members of the Alexandria Area Young Professionals (AAYP) organization to discuss how emerging leaders are engaging and connecting with each other in the Alexandria community. Members of AAYP agreed that Alexandria is a great place to get involved within the community and that it promotes personal and professional growth.

The focus group also discussed struggles in the workplace for emerging leaders. Generational differences were largely discussed, with some group members stating that there seems to be a bit of resistance from today’s current leaders when it comes to accepting new ideas from the younger generation of millennials.

The GMR project received a grant from the Mary J. Page Community-University Partnership Fund, which is advised by the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership (RSDP). This will directly support McManigal, who is a Humphrey School of Public Affairs student, in her research on workforce needs, community vitality, and how to attract and retain young professionals.

Several other focus meetings have been held as a part of the project, including ones in the Twin Cities, Moorhead, and Little Falls.