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Every community within the St. Cloud area has invested in a vision for the future, which includes comprehensive plans for future development of the area.

Community visions include:

  • The 2014 Community Priorities: A series of 10 key priorities and tasks that impact Central Minnesota and bring together all of the area communities in a joint effort to focus volunteer and financial resources to enhance the region’s vitality.
  • The 2011 adoption of the St. Cloud Urban Area Mississippi River Corridor Plan: A vision and implementation strategy to maintain the Mississippi River as a regional asset. That year, Minnesota Waters presented St. Cloud with the “River-Friendly Community of the Year” award. In 2012, Mississippi Partners was established as a nonprofit to champion implementation of the urban river plan.
  • The 2003 St. Cloud Comprehensive Plan: Establishes a vision and zoning requirements to guide future municipal growth and redevelopment.
  • The 2000 St. Cloud Area Joint Planning District Board: A strategic plan that highlights 11 goals and underlines strong public association and intergovernmental communication and cooperation. It also calls for establishing an area-wide infrastructure for ongoing activities by the participating cities and counties.
  • Joint Planning District Board: Through such aspects as preserving its natural resources, boosting its already-stable economy, and enhancing the standard of living through well-maintained neighborhoods, excellent education and superior medical care, the greater St. Cloud area will continue on its path of well thought-out, planned development.


Business advocacy is critical to regional business success. The St. Cloud Area Chamber’s leadership as a business advocate is proven over and over again as elected officials make the Chamber a preferred stop when seeking access to the business community or addressing regional business issues.

The Chamber’s advocacy efforts include:

  • Regular meetings with St. Cloud, Waite Park, St. Joseph, Sartell and Sauk Rapids mayors and city council members.
  • An annual trip to Washington, D.C. to visit with Minnesota’s Congressional delegation.  
  • Hosting “Evening at the Capital” to showcase Central Minnesota to statewide legislative leaders. 
  • Visiting with over 50 Central Minnesota CEOs and business owners as part of our Grow Minnesota! economic development program.
  • Hosting the St. Cloud Mayor’s annual State of the City Address with the St. Cloud Rotary Club.

The St. Cloud area experienced a slightly above average cost of living for the third quarter of 2020, according to the Cost of Living Index of 273 urban areas. The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is compiled and published quarterly by C2ER - The Council for Community and Economic Research

View complete report

With its array of sports and recreation, museums, outdoor spaces and cultural outlets, the St. Cloud area is alive with activities for all ages and interests.

Sports & Recreational Opportunities

Residents and visitors can take advantage of many outdoor activities in the St. Cloud area, including:

  • Canoeing and kayaking, on your own or with rental and guided trips on the River Water Trail system.
  • Fishing on a part of the Mississippi River recognized as one of the top 10 spots in the country for small-mouth bass.
  • Camping on the Mississippi River, or in numerous county parks or private campgrounds.
  • Miles of recreational trails for walking, hiking, rollerblading, bicycling, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, including the 46-mile Lake Wobegon Trail and the Beaver Islands Trail along the Mississippi River.
  • Roughly 1,500 acres of park land in the St. Cloud area, filled with such amenities as baseball/softball and athletic fields; playground equipment; picnic facilities; and tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, plus an additional 100 parcels available for future parkland development
  • Rock climbing, cross-country skiing and scuba diving at Stearns County’s Quarry Park in Waite Park.
  • Golf, on more than 60 area courses.

Spectator sports

If spectator sports are more your style, the St. Cloud area has plenty to satisfy your inner fan, including:

  • St. Cloud State University Huskies NCAA athletics, including Division I men’s and women’s hockey teams at the National Hockey Center, which underwent extensive improvements in 2012.
  • St. Cloud Rox summer collegiate baseball team, playing in the Northwoods League at Joe Faber Field at the Municipal Athletic Complex.
  • St. Cloud Norsemen, is a Tier II junior ice hockey team in the North American Hockey League's Central Division.
  • The Granite City Lumberjacks, a tier III hockey team.
  • The St. Cloud Area Roller Dolls, a flat-track roller derby team.
  • The Saint John’s University Johnnies and College of St. Benedict Blazers teams.
  • St. Cloud Men’s and Women’s Rugby teams – the Feeders and Sirens.
  • Granite City Renegades semi-professional football team.

Add to the list major recreational facilities such as the Municipal Athletic Complex, the St. Cloud Area Family “Y” and Whitney Senior Center, and you have a wide range of programming for youth through seniors.


Nature enthusiasts can delight in several unique offerings, including:

  • Munsinger and Clemens gardens, featuring extensive perennial and annual flower gardens overlooking the Mississippi River. Open to the public.
  • St. John’s Arboretum, 2,700 acres of lakes, prairie, oak savanna and woodland surrounding St. John’s University, featuring educational programming focusing on the importance of this natural restoration project.
  • Hemker Park and Zoo in nearby Freeport. A 14-acre private zoo that includes 32 species of waterfowl, African safari animals, primates, aquatic animals and a seasonal butterfly house.


History and arts fans have much to choose from in the St. Cloud area, including:

  • The Stearns History Museum, recognized as one of the finest history museums in Minnesota and the only nationally accredited museum in greater Minnesota. The museum features two floors of exhibit space, a research library, a mini-theater, museum store and educational programming.
  • The Haehn Museum at the Art and Heritage Place in St. Benedict’s Monastery, with nearly 4,000 artifacts dating back to 1857. It contains an exhibit hall featuring the cultural, social and religious influence of the Benedictine sisters in local, state, national and international ministries, Artisan Studios and Whitby Gift Shop and Gallery.
  • The Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center, the artistic heart of St. Cloud. The restored 1921 theater provides a stage for numerous community groups and a venue for professional performances. The Visual Arts Center offers classes for beginning and experienced artists and professional development opportunities for artists, educators and businesses. The Paramount is also home to several resident arts organizations.
  • Pioneer Place on Fifth brings professional theater, original plays, and a concert series to Central Minnesota each year. Arrive early and enjoy a glass of wine at the Veranda Lounge before performances.
  • The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University offer the Benedicta Arts Center, a 173,000-square-foot performance space, the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, the Literary Arts Institute, Saint John’s Pottery and a fine arts series.
  • St. Cloud State University offers the Kiehle Visual Arts Center, the Performing Arts Center and a wealth of arts-related offerings.
  • Performing musical organizations include the Minnesota Center Chorale, the Great River Chorale, the Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud, the St. Cloud Municipal Band, the Paramount Jazz Orchestra and the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra.
  • The River’s Edge Convention Center features the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame and is host to trade shows, conventions, social/entertainment events and more.

Thanks to the programs, services and all-around advocacy of such entities as the St. Cloud Arts Commission, United Arts of Central Minnesota, Central Minnesota Arts Board, and Visual Arts Minnesota, the cultural and entertainment community in the region is vibrant and growing.


Arts and Entertainment at Around the Cloud

St. Cloud State Outdoor Endeavors

St. Cloud Rox Baseball

St. Cloud State Athletics

Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center

Stearns History Museum

Munsinger Clemens Botanical Society

Pioneer Place on Fifth

St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex

St. Cloud Area Family YMCA

St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Superior education is a cornerstone of the St. Cloud area’s economic success. Education is an invaluable investment in its residents’ lives. Area communities have ensured easy access to high-quality educational opportunities for students of all ages.


St. Cloud Area Independent School District 742: The largest public school district in Central Minnesota, serving nearly 9,500 K-12 students located in nine communities with eight elementary schools, two junior high schools, two high schools, an alternative learning school, early childhood services and community education. These schools are staffed with more than 750 teachers, 70 percent of whom hold advanced degrees.

Athlos Academy of St. Cloud: Athlos Academy will provide high quality K-6 educational opportunities for the whole child built on the three foundational pillars of Prepared Mind, Healthy Body, and Performance Character.

Sauk Rapids-Rice Independent School District 47

Sartell-St. Stephen Independent School District 748

Rocori Independent School District 750

STRIDE Academy: A St. Cloud charter school providing core knowledge education for students K-8 grade.



Catholic Community Schools provides an option for parochial education through seven facilities located within the St. Cloud area. Six preschool and elementary schools and Cathedral High School make up the local system.

St. Cloud Christian School is an independent nondenominational Christian school providing K-12 education.

St. John’s Preparatory School, a Catholic/Benedictine, coeducational day and boarding international baccalaureate college preparatory school for students in grades 6-12, located in nearby Collegeville, on the St. John’s University campus.



St. Cloud State University, the state’s second-largest public university, serves more than 14,000 students with nearly 200 majors, minors and pre-professional programs, along with nearly 200+ clubs and organizations, a state-of-the-art library, NCAA athletics and opportunities for recreational and cultural enrichment.

The College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University serve nearly 4,000 students with 37 major and 33 minor programs. They have earned recognition as two of the top Catholic liberal arts colleges in the U.S., with an integrated learning environment that allows students to share an academic program while attending classes at both the St. Joseph and Collegeville campuses.

St. Cloud Technical and Community College serves nearly 6,000 students with more than 90 programs of study, including certificate, diploma and associate degree programs in Science, Applied Science and Arts.

The College of St. Scholastica has an outreach program in St. Cloud. Students are able to complete their undergraduate and, in some cases, graduate degrees during evenings and weekends and online, often through accelerated learning programs.

Rasmussen College is a private, two- and four-year degree-granting college that offers on-campus, online and blended-learning courses with a flexible schedule.

Additional post-secondary education opportunities include the Model College of Hair Design.



Lifelong educational, social and recreational learning opportunities are readily available to people of all ages in the St. Cloud area. Area school district community education programs offer adult and youth enrichment, aquatics and early childhood developmental screening. St. Cloud State University’s Center for Continuing Studies brings degree programs and professional development training to adult learners. St. Cloud’s Whitney Senior Center offers Third Age University courses.



The best way to grow businesses and improve productivity is to build the capacity of the workforce. The St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce dedicates considerable resources to this effort through their business and workforce development initiatives.

Cost-effective training for:

  • Customer service
  • Supervisor development
  • Marketing
  • Effective networking
  • Sales
  • Human resource management

St. Cloud Area Leadership: linking leaders in the community together, increasing their effectiveness and encouraging expanded networking.

NEXT-Chamber's Emerging Leaders: networking and professional development for the NEXT generation of community leaders and business owners.

Unite For Success: annual high school scholarship program providing more than $60,000 in cash and in-kind scholarships to graduating high school seniors.

High school internship programs for underserved youth.


The St. Cloud area is a thriving regional center of commerce in Central Minnesota with deep agricultural and industrial roots and a modern history that dates back to the settlement of Sauk Rapids at the confluence of the Sauk and Mississippi rivers in 1851.

Enhanced by those rivers, the area’s natural resources guided the way to economic prosperity, with prominent activity early on in fur trading, farming, lumbering and printing industries.

Not long after St. Cloud was established in 1856, large granite deposits were discovered, prompting the establishment of many area granite companies. The rock and stone industry mushroomed after colored granite deposits were discovered in 1868, and the area is still recognized today as “Granite Country U.S.A.”

St. Cloud is the third-largest metropolitan area in the state and one of the fastest-growing, featuring the best in living, education, health care, commercial, cultural and recreational offerings – not to mention expanding economic development that continues to raise the quality of life for residents and businesses alike.

St. Cloud                       68,043
Sartell 18,428
Sauk Rapids 13,879
Waite Park 7,718
St. Joseph 7,147
Stearns Co. 159,256
Benton Co. 40,545
Sherburne Co. 96,036

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, State and County Quickfacts, (July 1, 2018 estimates)
Median Household Income (2017)
St. Cloud $46,601
Sartell $74,391
Sauk Rapids $48,994
Waite Park $41,095
St. Joseph $56,754
Stearns Co. $59,564
Benton Co. $53,574
Sherburne Co. $83,895
Source: 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year estimates 

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 Census
St. Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area
2018 Population 199,801
2018 Labor Force 111,550
2018 unemployment rate 3.0%
2018 private sector payroll $4.84 billion
Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
Getting Here
City         Miles
Minneapolis/St. Paul           65
Duluth, MN          145
Rochester, MN          154
Fargo, ND             171
Des Moines, IA          309
Madison, WI          337
Winnepeg, Manitoba          394
*Distance from the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce office in downtown St. Cloud.
Major employers
St Cloud Hospital/CentraCare Health 7,541
St. Cloud VA Health Care System 1,850
State of Minnesota* 1,838
St. Cloud Area School District #742 1,800
Stearns County 954
Fulfillment Distribution Center 900
College St. Benedict/St. John's University 868
Coborn's, Inc. 755
New Flyer of America 730
Bernick's 680
Sauk Rapids-Rice ISD #47 675
Capital One 600
Essilor of America 550
City of St. Cloud 532
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services 462
Sartell-St.Stephen School District #748 425
Woodcraft Industries 397
Bluestem Fulfillment, Inc. 393
Grede 375
Anderson Trucking Service, Inc. 372

*Includes St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Technical & Community College, St. Cloud Correctional Facility & MnDOT.

Sources: Self-reported to St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce; City of St. Cloud

The St. Cloud area has earned recognition as a great place to do business. Entrepreneur magazine listed St. Cloud among the “Top 10 Mid-sized Cities in the Nation for Small Businesses” and Forbes included the area in its 2010 Top 200 list of “Best Small Cities for Business and Careers.” Minnesota Business magazine referred to the I-94 region from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities as “The Golden Corridor” due to the area’s stable economy and continuous business and residential development.


The pro-business attitude found in Central Minnesota has created an optimal environment for all businesses and industries, no matter the size or type.

Business-focused resources in the St. Cloud area are significant, and include:

  • St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation
  • City of St. Cloud’s Economic Development Authority
  • Minnesota Workforce Center-St. Cloud
  • The Herberger Business School at St. Cloud State University
  • Minnesota Central Region Small Business Development Center
  • The Anderson Center of Management and Leadership
  • Benton County Economic Development
  • Sherburne County Economic Development
  • Stearns County Housing and Redevelopment Authority
  • Initiative Foundation

The area is also equipped with plenty of financial incentives, including:

  • Job Opportunity Building Zone (JOBZ) tax credits
  • Revolving loan programs
  • Tax Increment Financing
  • Small business development loan programs
  • Tax abatement
  • Construction assistance
  • Gap financing


Downtown St. Cloud’s renewed vibrancy has made it the place to be for shopping and dining. Lining its streets are more than 80 places to shop and more than 40 restaurants.

Complementing downtown St. Cloud is Crossroads Shopping Center, the largest enclosed shopping center in Greater Minnesota. The mall is anchored by four major department stores and one of the largest sporting goods stores in Minnesota. It boasts more than 120 major specialty shops and eateries.

Additional retail sites include:

  • Centennial Shopping Center
  • Dan Tree Court
  • Division Place Fashion Center
  • Division Street Plaza
  • Marketplace Shopping Center and Annex
  • Midtown Square
  • Northgate Shopping Center
  • Plaza West Shopping Center
  • Rivertown Village
  • Riverwood Mall
  • West Point Shops

Relocating to the St. Cloud Area

Located 65 miles from Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Cloud is central to both tourism and commerce. The area is comprised of the communities of St. Cloud, Waite Park, Sartell, St. Joseph, Sauk Rapids and St. Augusta.

For many area residents it's the growing economy, the caring people and the four varied, breathtaking seasons that keep them here. Manufacturing, retail and service industries are the commercial backbone of the region, equally supported by the extensive highly productive farming and dairy professions.

For others who relocate here, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, easy access to recreation, excellent health care, and abundant cultural and educational opportunities are what brought them to this region. Rolling farmlands, sparkling lakes, peaceful woodlands and many nearby state parks make this a perfect place in which to live and recreate. With housing costs 20 percent lower than the national average, the cost of living here is exceptionally low, as well.

No matter why you come here, the St. Cloud area has hundreds of things to offer in a variety of ways — a place to truly call home.

It is said the Greater St. Cloud area is a wonderful place to live, work and play and we think so too!


In 2019, we received the following:
  • City of St. Cloud Reflection of the Year Award - recognizing active emerging leaders in Central Minnesota
  • St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 150 Years -  WJON, St. Cloud Times
  • City of St. Cloud Reflection of the Year Award – recognizing active emerging leaders in Central Minnesota Read more.
In 2018, we received the following:
  • 25 Best Places to Visit in Minnesota - VacationIdea.com 
  • 2018 Top 10 Best MN Town - Minnesota Monthly Magazine
  • St. Cloud #27 of 300 U.S  small cities in Verizon Business 2018 Best Small Cities for Small Businesses report.  Full report.
  • Best City for Older American - 24/7 Wallstreet
  • Greenest City in Minnesota (#1 of 853 Minnesota cities( - Insurify
  • 2017 Best Performing Small City (#47 of 201 U.S. small cities) - Milken Institute
  • America's Best Hockey Town in 2018 (#14 of 114 U.S. cities) - SmartAsset.com
  • Minnesota Safest City - National Council for Home Safety and Security - Alarms.org
In 2017, we received the following:
  • 2017 Top 10 Best MN Town - Minnesota Monthly Magazine
  • 2017 Bicycle Friendly Community - Bronze Category - Bikeleague.org
  • Top Leading Location for Development in 2017 (#197 of 394 MSAs) - AreaDevelopment.com
  • America's Best Hockey Town in 2017 (#17 of 118 U.S. cities) - SmartAsset.com
  • Best Metro Area for Young Entrepreneurs (#19 of 381 MSA's) - NerdWallet.com
In 2016, we received the following:
  • Best City for Young Entrepreneurs (#28 of 181 MSA's) - NerdWallet.com
  • 2015 Best Performing Small City (#70 of 201 U.S. cities - #1 small city in MN) - Milken Institute
  • 5th Best City for Singles (Who Like Being Single) - SmartAsset.com
  • 8th Best Hockey Town in Country (#8 of 123 U.S. cities) - SmartAsset.com
  • Top 100 Smartest City (#42 of 100 U.S.cities) - Luminosity.com
  • Smartest City in MN to Live In (#3 of 11 MN cities) - OnlyInMinnesota.com
  • Top 10 Secret Swimming Holes: Quarry Park and Nature Preserve - The Travel Channel
In 2015, we received the following:
  • Top 15 Metro Areas You Can Afford a Home on a $50,000 Income - Nerdwallet.com
  • Top 10 Large Metro Area for Law Graduates (#8 of 100 MSAs) - GoodCall.com
  • Top Leading Location for Development in 2015 (#87 of 373 MSAs) - AreaDevelopment.com
  • Best Place to Start a Business in Minnesota (#76 of 123 MN cities) - Nerdwallet.com
  • Best Small City in America (#47 of 1,300 U.S. cities) - Nerdwallet.com
  • 2014 Best Performing Small City (#26 of 179 U.S. cities - #1 small city in MN) -Milken Institute