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Letter: Grand Forks empowers young professionals

To the editor,

Thursday, I sat across the table from 700-plus community members at The Longest Table, in downtown Grand Forks.

When I first moved to Grand Forks for a job, I knew three people. I knew nothing about flooding, or hockey, and had never used the word "oofda" in all my life. And I'll be honest: My first year here was lonely. It turns out making adult friendships and genuine connections in a new town is hard.

It wasn't until my coworker suggested I join the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals that I truly found my home in Grand Forks. My evenings went from popcorn on my couch to volunteer nights at CVIC, lunch presentations given by community leaders, and happy hours at a downtown parklet.

My letter today is to thank this community for having the vision 11 years ago to invest in GGFYP. I'm proud to say we are the only city in the Midwest employing a full-time executive director for their YP chapter. I'm proud to say we get calls from across the country wondering how we have been so successful. I'm proud to say we are nearly 400 members strong, including many talented college students. And I'm proud to say we hosted 42 activities to connect young professionals and the community last year.

But none of that pride would have been possible if it weren't for the leadership of our city, county and business community understanding that in a state with 2.5 percent unemployment rate, we needed to figure out how to attract and retain a thriving young professional workforce.

If it wasn't for ongoing investment by the cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, the county, the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporation, the Community Foundation, UND, nearly 40 businesses, our media organizations, literally thousands of GGFYP alumni, and visionaries like Hal Gershman, we never would have become an organization that makes this place feel like home.

So six years after moving here, and a full repertoire of the right usages of "oofda" later, thank you to those who make me believe Grand Forks is unlike any place I've ever lived, with partnerships across government, private enterprise and nonprofit sectors. We're a region that doesn't just welcome young professionals - we empower them.

Becca Cruger

President

Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals

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