Peter Frosch is the new face of Twin Cities economic development. The 40-year-old Frosch was appointed as the chief executive of the Greater MSP regional development group last month as former head Michael Langley retires. Frosch, who has worked at Greater MSP for six years, has been critical to the organization and helped create programs including the Make It. MSP talent attraction and retention initiative. He said Greater MSP will begin a renewed effort to engage with public-sector leaders. There are also several new initiatives to further the work the group has done including the Forge North campaign to promote local entrepreneurship.
Q: Explain the birth of the Make It. MSP program and how you see it growing in the future.
A: The data was very clear that professionals of color were moving to this region at higher rates than whites for job opportunities but leaving at much higher rates. We needed to focus also on welcoming newcomers to this region. We had 30,000 people coming to the MSP metro from out of state every year and roughly 28,000 people leaving. So you think “Oh, a really efficient strategy would be to improve the retention rate of those that come here.” We also were focused on attracting tech talent. It was the highest demanded occupation for all of the employers in this region. And we were working with HR and talent-acquisition leaders in some of the largest companies in the metro to focus on campus intern and undergraduate and graduate recruiting. Those four major strategies of Make It. MSP were there from the beginning but they have really developed their own retail brands from BE MSP for the retention of professionals of color to MSP Hello. So we have kind of gone to a retail kind of [business-to-consumer] in Make It. MSP and it’s yielding significant results. We saw over the past couple years almost a 300% increase in the net migration of millennial talent in this metro.
Q: What are some of your ideas to attract large businesses here?
A: The work around retaining, attracting, expanding businesses is a fundamental element of economic development. That is very much a priority for Greater MSP today and into the future. And we’re doing that in new ways because the region’s approach to economic development is changing as the economy changes. For instance, we’re working with Medical Alley in Northern Europe to bring 10 fast growing Danish companies to the MSP metro all at once which is a program supported by the Danish government. … Partnering with other entities like Medical Alley is a part of this thinking globally and really doubling down on this region’s global connectedness and global opportunity.
Q: How has your own personal experience as a young professional shaped your vision for Greater MSP?
A: I’ve lived in Chicago and I’ve lived in New York and I’ve lived in Baltimore-Washington. [My wife] and I have lived in other cities. There aren’t that many places, especially in the United States, today that can combine diverse economy, that can provide career opportunity for two different career paths in the same household, where you are going to have a culture that’s supportive of families where you find relative affordability. … It’s a shortlist and Minneapolis-St. Paul is always at the top of that list. … Greater MSP in part exists to ensure that we continue to have a diverse and robust economy that creates job opportunities. We can never take that for granted. Another element of this story that we are finding to become even more important is this affordability factor.
Q: One of the criticisms that was heard during the region’s run to secure the Amazon HQ2 bid was that Minnesota wasn’t as aggressive as other areas. Is this true or do you think that this “Minnesota Nice” reputation is undeserved?
A: Well, in many respects this was one of the pushes to create Greater MSP. There was a recognition from leaders in this community through the Itasca Project nearly 10 years that this region was in a global competition but not competing as a region. And so we are building year by year and seeing success, but we started frankly just a few years ago from a fairly low base. … Part of what we need to be doing together as a partnership in Greater MSP is telling the stories of what we’re doing and the effect that is happening. And the story is changing really fast because we are working together. The region has immense capability and so the speed at which we are doing this work is accelerating. For instance, you are going to see the Greater MSP partnership in July launch something called Forge North. This is going to be a strategic initiative for the MSP metro and state of Minnesota that’s focused on startups and innovation. As Make It. MSP is to talent, Forge North will be to innovation. This is something we have been working on for a number of years that’s already really robust. … We are showing up in the places that matter most to the sectors that we have in our economy. We are showing up as a team [like at a natural foods conference in California, South by Southwest, the Collision conference in Toronto]. The exciting news is we are doing this and it’s scaling very quickly and now we need to make sure we are keeping up with telling that story.