Matt Lewis is the director of Make It. MSP.

More than 250 leaders gathered on Friday at TCF Bank Stadium for the second Make It. MSP. summit, exploring the latest in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region’s efforts to better retain and attract top talent. Speakers from Target, the State of Minnesota, U.S. Bank, Minneapolis Foundation, General Mills, the startup community and more shared the latest projects being launched through the diverse cross-sector initiative.

Project teams demonstrated new solutions to opportunities identified by thousands of highly mobile professionals throughout the country. This video, featuring a local entrepreneur, software engineer, creative and tech firm business owner, and a communicator in a leading financial services company framed many of the day’s issues. Early research from the initiative revealed the region’s entrepreneurial culture and startup activity to be critical to performance retaining and attracting talent.

“At last year’s summit we shared insights drawn directly from the experiences and perceptions people have of this place,” said Make It. MSP. Director Matt Lewis. “This year teams were busy building solutions to the data-driven issues we identified.”

“With dozens of working professionals both coming to and leaving the region every day for different reasons, our approach is to take on issues in partnership.”

The GREATER MSP Partnership built and launched the initiative in 2015 in response to demographic shifts in the region and competitive pressures being faced by employers. Today the Make It. MSP. platform is being used directly by more than 100 organizations to collaborate on otherwise competitive talent retention and attraction issues including showcasing the community to people throughout the country.

Leaders from some of those organizations joined local entrepreneurs staffing Make It. MSP. projects to provide updates and connect people to the latest work to onboard newcomers, attract tech workers, and better elevate and retain professionals of color. Insights into the work of the initiative were showcased in three problem-solution videos that framed up the breakout sessions.


Make It. MSP. Tech Team Captain Dan Linstroth talked attraction with local MSP tech recruiter Paul Debettignies. They shared the results of the team’s recent joint recruiting visit to Chicago with 11 local employers, as well as highlights from the team’s fly-in program partnership with Twin Cities Startup Week. The team has engaged more than 300,000 tech professionals around the U.S. this year. Tech recruitment problem-solution video:

MSP Hello

MSP Hello Team Captain Saby Labor and Ashley Howard, Mentoring Program Manager at U.S. Bank, demonstrated how this joint effort of 30 organizations ranging from higher education and arts institutions to Fortune 500 companies and meetup groups teamed up to directly welcome thousands of new Minnesotans and build new resources like the MSP Neighborhood Guide to help newcomers navigate their new home. Newcomer problem-solution video:

Professionals of Color

Make It. MSP. Professionals of Color Team Captain Caroline Karanja joined Erryn Williams, Director, Diversity & Inclusion at Ryan Companies, to explore MSP’s current challenges retaining diverse professionals. They previewed the team’s Employer Research Toolkit, designed to enable organizations to facilitate discussions about the experiences professionals of color are having in and out of MSP workplaces.  Professionals of Color problem-solution video:

Sessions also featured leaders speaking to newly launched efforts being prioritized because of the initiative’s research, including remarks from Department of Employment and Economic Development commissioner Shawntera Hardy and General Mills Director of U.S. Recruitment Scott Swayne.

Minneapolis Foundation President and CEO R.T. Rybak shared a new effort to connect the alumni of MSP college and career readiness programs like STEP-UP and Right Track with employers already partnering in Make It. MSP. The joint project, ConnextMSP, launches this winter. A trio of Danielle Steer (Impact Hub MSP), Lauren Pradhan (Grow North), and Dakota Crow (Minnovation Collective) shared how they worked together through a Make It. MSP. coordinated project to connect their startup communities and expand programming at this year’s Twin Cities Startup Week.

“This platform allows leaders at different organizations to identify a shared challenge and work together to provide value to their own organization,” said Lewis. “Their collaborative efforts are already being recognized and awarded for being among the best in class around the country. But we’re only just getting started.”

Photo Credit: Bethany Birnie