Small Business

Networking efforts connects for professionals of color

The next ‘MSP Mingle’ event books up weeks in advance

By Kevyn Burger
Tue, 2016-11-22 12:59

If there was any doubt that there is a deep hunger among professionals of color for opportunities to connect, just check the attendance for the upcoming MSP Mingle.

Spaces are all taken for those who want to attend the next event, to be held Nov. 30 at the Health Partners headquarters in Minnetonka.

That’s a rather cumbersome way of saying the next MSP Mingle is effectively if not technically sold out, given that reservations are required but there is no charge to attend. The 400 spots were reserved several weeks before the networking evening is scheduled.

“We’ll have a quick welcome and a few remarks but there won’t be a program. This is all about socializing,” says Matt Kramer, president of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, which is taking the lead in the regional effort to better attract and retain professionals of color.

The Saint Paul Chamber is partnering with Make It. MSP, the initiative within Greater MSP that is working to attract newcomers to the Twin Cities.

The Nov. 30th event is the third MSP Mingle; previous get-togethers were hosted onsite at Target in downtown Minneapolis and Ecolab in downtown St. Paul.

“People will come to have a drink, meet new people. This is geared at any professional of color,” Kramer explains. “It’s not for dating, but meant to help people expand their circles. There’s a social thriving scene in Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Chicago and it’s not so true in the Twin Cities.”

The initiative spearheaded by the Saint Paul Chamber is geared at enhancing the lifestyle and leisure options for professionals of color and their families. A recent study from the University of Minnesota found that out of the 25 largest metro cities, the Minneapolis-St. Paul region ranks only fourteenth for retaining professionals of color.

“It’s not enough to have a satisfying career with one of our great companies. We want professionals of color to feel good about our community and want to stay here — buy a house, raise a family. We need them as part of the business success story of the state,” Kramer adds.

Earlier this year, the Saint Paul Chamber surveyed professionals of color working for their input on many aspects of life in Twin Cities. Ultimately that data will be used to identify ways to enhance attraction and retention efforts.

“We got 1,200 responses to the survey and now we are digesting the data with the help of the St. Paul Foundation, looking at the gaps where we are falling short and also identifying what is working,” Kramer says. “We think this will show us where we can make a difference in bringing professionals of color to town and then getting them to stay here.”