Nestled in the heart of St. Cloud is a homegrown biotech company that has the power to protect reputations for businesses around the globe.
Microbiologics became a biotech success story by helping other businesses prevent microbial contamination that could create lasting damage to their brands.
The St. Cloud-based company makes biomaterials used for quality-control testing by its clients, which include pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food companies.
Many Microbiologics clients are upping their investment in such testing, according to the company’s CEO, Brad Goskowicz. He says social media spreads news of microbial contamination or outbreaks more quickly than ever.
“All these companies, their brand is so important,” Goskowicz says. “When you have contamination or you have an outbreak, the whole world knows.”
The St. Cloud region has several homegrown businesses, including Microbiologics, that are finding their niche at the vanguard of technology. Since 2008, Microbiologics has tripled its revenues and nearly doubled its workforce to almost 100, according to Goskowicz.
Higher-education resources in the St. Cloud area, including a large student population and a new laboratory at St. Cloud State University, could fuel further growth in technology, local onlookers say.
They say local colleges and universities are creating a pipeline of young, technologically savvy workers.
But retaining that talent is another matter. It’s a critical hurdle to building not just Central Minnesota’s technology industry, but other industries as well, according to Patti Gartland, president of the Greater St. Cloud Development Corp.
Gartland says the development corporation — a collaboration of local business, education and government leaders — has made talent retention one of its strategic initiatives. She says the St. Cloud area often hasn’t bragged enough about its strong suits.
“As a region, we really haven’t done a very good job of describing who we are and the assets we have,” Gartland said.
Part of the challenge is boosting awareness of the area’s strengths, she says.
One of the newest and most exciting examples, Gartland says, is the Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility, or ISELF, at St. Cloud State.
The 100,000-square-foot facility, which opened in 2013 due to a $42 million allocation from the state, is helping educate students at the university’s College of Science and Engineering.
Local businesses also are using it.
Goskowicz says Microbiologics has used the facility for training seminars and symposiums that bring other professionals in their field to St. Cloud.
The dean of the College of Science and Engineering at St. Cloud State, Dan Gregory, says other local companies are leveraging the ISELF facility.
They include GeoComm, which provides geographic information and communications services for public-safety responders.
The company is tapping the expertise of college faculty and the high-tech ISELF facility to develop a prototype for advancing its abilities from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional model, Gregory said.
The college, in turn, gets a chance for its students to work on the cutting edge.
“Our students are engaged in this project. It’s a real-world project,” Gregory said. “What is GeoComm getting out of it? They’re getting an infrastructure that will allow them to stay leaders in the industry.”
In Minnesota, the Governor’s Workforce Development Council reported in 2013 that:
• 85 percent of jobs created in over 10 years after the recession will require postsecondary education.
• Two-thirds of Minnesota manufacturers say a “high-performance workforce” is the top factor in their success.
About the writer
Mark Sommerhauser covers politics and government at the St. Cloud Times. Follow him on Twitter @msommerhauser, and find him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sctimesmark.
Brad Goskowicz explains why Central Minnesota is a perfect place for their company
St. Cloud Times