Grand Forks, area young professionals forming partnerships

Grand Forks Herald

CROOKSTON — Leaders in Grand Forks and Crookston hope to see a partnership between young professionals in the two cities grow through more collaboration in the coming year.

The Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals is looking to share its resources and help connect young professionals in the area, including in Crookston and Grafton, N.D.

“From my understanding, they were kind of doing some outreach to the surrounding communities and of course Crookston is a pretty feasible one being only 20 or so miles down the road,” said Amanda Lien, executive director of Crookston’s Chamber of Commerce.

Crookston has been trying to pull together its own young professionals group for quite some time, Lien said. Upon speaking with GGFYP Executive Director Corey Mock, she said it seemed like there would be a lot a small group couldn’t do alone so a partnership seemed like the best option.

“What we don’t want this to be is Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals playing a heavy hand in trying to program for Crookston,” Mock said. “We want to provide a support network and help them exist.”

A few Crookston residents also are members of the Grand Forks chapter, and Lien said capitalizing on that overlap would be beneficial, including opening up more networking and professional development opportunities between the two cities.

The partnership officially kicked off last month when GGFYP held its first Lunch and Learn event in Crookston, which drew about 35 people and included a presentation from a local speaker.

“We’ve had great response, lots of excitement about it,” Lien said. “I think we’re on the verge of something and working with Grand Forks’ group is proving to be successful.”

A second event has been scheduled for later in April. Mock said the goal is to host a quarterly event in interested cities.

Reaching out to smaller communities such as Crookston and Grafton was inspired by GGFYP establishing a student chapter at UND, Mock said.

“We’ve had a long history of students joining Young Professionals, but when you have a large number of working professionals, it’s not always a natural fit for students to get involved,” Mock said.

The Student Young Professionals of Greater Grand Forks group has had success and from there the GGFYP turned its attention to Crookston, which is home to a University of Minnesota campus. In addition to getting students involved, the group also strives to organize community events. Mock said often people lament about having nothing to do in Grand Forks.

“We figured if Grand Forks has that challenge, Crookston has had that challenge,” he said. “So we thought how can we help harness young professionals living Crookston or in northwest Minnesota? What can we do as an established young professionals group to help them get off the ground?”

The collaboration between the group and small cities is in its early stages but as partnerships strengthen, Mock said it’s possible young professionals in those cities could organize and join the GGFYP as individuals or even as a subcommittee.

Providing that support in that function could help a group in a small community get on its feet faster than if it created its own chapter, he added.

Later this year, Mock said GGFYP plans to co-host a Lunch and Learn in Grafton with other young professionals in the area, such as those in Cavalier, N.D.

“One, it gives them an event to take ownership of and give their members an activity to participate in,” he said. “Plus, it also helps us reach out into that part of the state.”

Those interested in learning more about the GGFYP and its involvement in surrounding communities can visit www.ggfyp.com/.