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Nistler College of Business and Public Administration Students Win MainStreet GF Challenge

The Main Street GF Challenge, first coined together by Governor of North Dakota Doug Burgum three years ago has now announced their 2020 winners. Nistler College of Business and Public Administration’s very own Georgia Paul and her team and Tyler Larson were among the students awarded this prize.

The Main Street GF Challenge encourages students both high school and college level, to foster new ideas on how to improve the community. Dividing the projects into four pillars, students can cater their ideas and focus around each: Healthy Vibrant Communities, Smart Efficient Infrastructure, 21st Century Workforce, and Cross Cutting Issues. Georgia and Tyler both share a passion for the community of Grand Forks, and have worked hard to develop their projects, specifically in the 21st Century Workforce and Healthy Vibrant Communities initiatives.

21st Century Workforce

‘Hiring Hawks’ is the main goal that Georgia and Hannah Olson, Brooke Goven, and Kate Long envisioned when developing their project. Seeing a need for some way to display important skills that don’t necessarily show up on a school transcript, the team wanted to help students verify their skills, both hard and soft in order for them to secure better jobs right away after graduation. Georgia has personally felt this need, especially when it came to crafting her own resume.

“I did a lot of training, took a lot of hard skills, but that only goes really to the bottom of your transcript,” she says.

Coming up with an effective way to display those accomplishments to potential employers could help the transition from school to career run a bit smoother. Falling under the 21st Century Workforce pillar, the team also wanted this to reflect the graduates of University of North Dakota as a whole, and partner with the employers of Grand Forks.

“This will make it easier for students to get a job here and for employers to recruit UND graduates,” Georgia says.

As for next steps, the team is ready to put this project into motion. They plan on working more on the project identity, continue bi-weekly mentorship meetings with local business owners, attend breakout sessions, and gather research.

“Identifying the top 25 skills that employers of Grand Forks see is necessary is our next step,” Georgia says. “Then to pull resources on how we can better train in those skills.

Healthy Vibrant Communities

Tyler Larson, his project working under the Healthy Vibrant Communities pillar, is no stranger to the entrepreneurial world. Second time Main Street GF Challenge winner and recipient of a grant from another Main Street GF event, The Longest Table, also has some great plans for the community.

Starting the Penny House in his hometown of Harvey, ND, Tyler wanted his non-profit youth center to be a safe place for students to hangout when they aren’t in school. Not only is the Penny House a place for middle to high school students to have fun, they broadened their mission to include leadership and entrepreneurial experiences, starting with having students be a part of the governing board.

“There are kids who are ready to go the extra mile and are wanting to be doing things that are set up for the future,” Tyler says. “That’s where the Penny House wants to be an advocate for students like that.”

After meeting with some local business development leaders, and from using data from a survey, Tyler found that over 90% of Grand Forks high schoolers feel as if there is not a place for them to hangout.

“These kids want a place to call their own,” he says.

Tyler decided that opening another Penny House location in Grand Forks could potentially solve that issue. Using the funds from the Longest Table as well as the MainStreet GF Challenge, his dreams for this community will soon become a reality. Tyler’s next steps are figuring out a location, as well as doing some more research.

These winners have 6 months to implement their projects, and the hope of the Challenge is that these projects thrive past the first 6 months and become an indefinite part of the Grand Forks community.