Writer: Joshua Andino
2 min read September 2021 — Earlier this month, ConnextMSP, a “talent network designed to advance racial equity and power economic growth in the region” was launched by the economic development partnership GreaterMSP.
The coalition of over 40 partners, made up of employers, educational institutions and college-readiness programs across the region, will seek to provide employment opportunities to young talent of color in an effort to bridge gaps in employment. The initiative also provides an online platform to complement its network, listing employment opportunities and creating a pipeline of over 2,500 young professionals from which employers can recruit from
GreaterMSP President & CEO Peter Frosch explained to Invest: the goal of advancing racial equity through the organization’s regional projects, detailing that ConnextMSP would be the “new diverse talent pipeline… which connects thousands of young professionals of color to career-track jobs with the region’s best employers.”
Personal networks have long been considered the key to accessing strong career positions. Traditionally, these positions are filled and their availability made known to a select few through small, informal peer groups, organizations, and personal connections that provide a good word or point of reference when filling out applications or answering interview questions. These networks, especially those in elite institutions, tend to be overwhelmingly white.
ConnextMSP is designed to address that issue, with Managing Director Ieesha McKinzie Collins stating in a press release, “Our network will help create a bridge for these talented young adults and support them as they grow their careers in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region.” The initiatives’ ranks comprises organizations such as Ecolab, Cargill, Land o’ Lakes, Thomson Reuters, and Xcel Energy, to name a few. The organization is looking to work with its college-readiness and higher-education members to grow its talent pool, as well as include more employers as partners.
Emphasizing the scale of the project, McKinzie Collins elaborated, “We’ve realized this challenge is far too big for any single organization to solve on its own and we’re working on this together. If we want to drive lasting change, this is how it starts.”
While the initiative was launched earlier this month, ConnextMSP will look to track the opportunities, applications, and hirings it helps to generate, however current metrics are scarce due to the recent launch of the program. In a statement to the BizJournal, McKinzie Collins explained that “It’s a little early” to have a target number for opportunities created.
“I think the future of our region depends on our ability to make sure that people of color have a place in our workforce, and not only are they working, but also growing to be leaders,” McKinzie Collins said.
Similarly, Frosch told Invest:, “We are fully committed to this work and will be deeply engaged in the solutions that include stronger and better business ownership, homeownership, affordable housing, capital to support startups and commitments from large corporations, investments in transit and new talent development strategies. We need all the above to advance racial equity. Inclusive economic growth is the region’s model because we see equity as a growth driver as much as innovation and sustainability.”
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