Twin Ports Connex Helps Graduates Find Local Jobs

By KBJR News 1

March 19, 2012 Updated Mar 19, 2012 at 8:42 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Blame it on a sour economy, but employment rates for new college graduates have fallen drastically in the past two years.

A recent survey by the New York Times showed that—of the graduating class of 2010—only 56 percent have held a job upon graduation.

Of those jobs, only half have required a college degree.

"I think there's a notion that people aren't hiring—there are no jobs out there. Every employer I talk to these days has positions that they want to fill. They just don't have time to fill them," said Twin Ports Connex Managing Director Rob Karwath

Now, the Northland–based project Twin Ports Connex hopes to not only connect graduates to businesses, but help find their dream job right here in the Twin Ports.

"Duluth's like a lot of communities where it ends up being kind of who you know. And, for young people that's a little scary. It's like, 'well, I don't know those circles of influence,' especially if you're not from here and you're not part of a family dynamic," said Karwath.

...as is the case of Brainerd native and St. Scholastica Senior Erin Olejnicak, who currently interns at Goodwill Industries.

"I'd like to see the ability to build more relationships, y'know—just closer relationships with all the opportunities and businesses around here. Rob has opened the door to me for other opportunities," said Olejnicak.

According to Karwath, Olejnicak is a shining example of the demographic to which he hopes the effort will appeal: "Students like Erin are here because of our colleges and universities. So, we do a pretty good job of attracting. And, we're not going to retain them all, but we want to be able to retain the ones that want to stay here."

And even though the Twin Ports Connex website won't be fully functional until August, Scolastica is already incubating the program among its students, with funding from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

Mayor Don Ness has made Twin Ports Connex part of his '90 by 20' program, which seeks to increase the city's population to 90,000 by 2020.