Weather Forecast


Retirees’ experience sought

A new economic development initiative in the lakes area is aimed at mining a human resource.

The resource has a high level of experience and expertise, which may be combined with a little more free time and a continuing desire to be active beyond the golf course.

To that end, the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. is starting an initiative aimed at working and retired executives who may have a seasonal home here or vacation in the area, or call the lakes area home year-round. 

John Gunstad, BLAEDC economic development specialist, said he doesn’t think this resource of executive business and leadership experience has been tapped at this level the way it should. 

The goal is to expand business and create jobs here by accessing every available resource. The Executive Initiative aims to access a wealth of knowledge people have gained throughout a career, whether the working life is still ongoing or the individual is now enjoying the benefits of retirement. 

By engaging those current and former executives, and offering them a way to connect socially with their peers here, the goal is to have a resource to help lakes area businesses. The executives may act as advisers or counselors to a business that is growing or needs the voice of experience to help them meet a challenge. 

Executives may act as ambassadors to the area by providing industry leads to that company in need they want to financially support to help. 

Gunstad said he’s heard from executives who have retired to a lake home but have been at a disadvantage in establishing new friendships among their peers. The BLAEDC initiative offers to provide a way to link executives who may have much in common but wouldn’t have connected without the initiative. 

Other executives may find the group highlights an opportunity here they may not have realized. Sheila Haverkamp, BLAEDC executive director, said letters regarding an Executive Initiative informational meeting Tuesday at Grand View were sent to lake associations, service clubs, real estate agents among others urging people to pass the word to others who may be interested in attending and learning more. 

“Our hope is over time this might grow,” Haverkamp said. 

It’s just one of several initiatives BLAEDC is working on regarding economic growth. 

“I think it’s something that will take root,” Gunstad said. “It’s a process. It won’t happen overnight.” 

Terry Banbury, who was based in Minneapolis and more recently became a permanent resident of Crosslake, is one example of the people the initiative is designed to reach. Banbury put in 40 years in the business world in computer software companies large and small and startup ventures. Banbury said there are a lot of people enjoy life in the lakes area but aren’t ready to quit working just yet and there are business who need leadership or others with leadership that need financial support. 

“I think the group that is forming is very dedicated to the lakes area,” Banbury said, adding a lot of people have been coming here for years and finally decided to migrate here while others are new to the area but wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Banbury said he was pleased to find a good foundation of people interested in starting new businesses and attracting people to the area. 

“I’ve been very impressed with the people Sheila (Haverkamp) has introduced me to and the people dedicated to growing the Brainerd Lakes Area. People who don’t have to work but choose to stay active and choose to contribute. It’s just a great pool of talent.”

In talking to Haverkamp, Banbury said he is now looking at bringing a business to the lakes area he was previously considering putting in Minneapolis. 

“I think there are a lot of people who think that way,” Banbury said. “It allows me to live in vacationland.”

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at or 855-5852.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889