At 42, Kim Jakus is switching career fields and is leaving the Longfellow Business Association (LBA) at the end of December 2022.
“I don’t consider it to be a midlife crisis, but it is a midlife transition,” remarked Jakus.
She has been with the LBA since July 2018, and is paid for about 10 hours a week. She has also worked part-time for the neighboring Seward Civic and Commerce Organization (SCCO). It was the perfect part-time job while she was a stay-at-home mom to Walter and through the shifts caused by pandemic school closures and last year’s teacher strike in Minneapolis. She has loved working with the local business community.
But after working with a life coach, she realized that she didn’t relish the computer and administrative work so much and really appreciated the sense of getting something accomplished at the end of the day.
She plans to enroll in the free, five-month electrician training at Summit Academy OIC this winter.
“You get to work with your whole body. You have a variety of tasks. Your tasks have a beginning and an end,” explained Jakus.
Contracted for only 8-10 hours a week at the LBA has been tough as there was always more work that could be done – especially through the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest that enveloped Longfellow.
“I love the people,” said Jakus, adding that it has been a hard decision. She is drawn to relationship work, and has really enjoyed walking into businesses, asking what they need, and figuring out how to help them.
“Longfellow is a very special neighborhood. Residents are really loyal and there is a strong neighborhood identity. They take pride in supporting their neighborhood businesses, which we really saw after the civil unrest,” she said.
As a business organization, the LBA brings businesses together for networking opportunities including lunches and trainings. They don’t always have something tangible to give businesses, but after the civil unrest the LBA distributed $65,000 in grants for businesses that had been damaged.
When she looks back at her years with the LBA, Jakus is also proud of how they supported businesses through the dual challenges of the pandemic and civil unrest.
In partnership with the Longfellow Community Council, they’ve also offered a business security matching grant program. Businesses may get up to $2,500 when they spend the same amount for security lighting, security cameras, alarm systems, window film/polycarbonate window coverings, security shutters and blinds, and doors and locks. This program is still available and taking applications.
“I think every little bit helps,” she said.
Jakus led many marketing efforts over the last 4.5 years at the LBA, including coupon pages that were printed in the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger and the every-other-year business directory distributed with the Messenger. She feels really great about last summer’s BOGO program that 16 local restaurants participated in. In addition to the Messenger ad, each business promoted it on their social medial channels and at the business. The LBA itself made $1,100.
“It was so nice to hear from folks who loved it,” said Jakus. “One resident emailed me and said, ‘It was the highlight of our summer.’ That I felt really proud of.”
“Kim has really worked hard for the Longfellow neighborhood. It is a loss to us,” stated LBA Board member Cathy Heying of The Lift Garage.
PIVOTING TO DIFFERENT WORK
Jakus has accumulated a few degrees (first from Kalamazoo College in Michigan and then the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota), and done work in many areas. She has worked at the Wedge, traveled to Nepal, and looked into starting a canning business. She was employed by the Longfellow Community Council while in graduate school from 2007-2010. There was never one career that she thought she would work in and stay forever.
That was part of the reason why she decided it didn’t make sense to pay for childcare when her son was born. She opted to stay home and work part-time.
She appreciated the flexibility of the work at LBA and called it “such a gift,” while also finding it “crazy making” sometimes. She never felt like the work was done.
In contrast, when she worked at the 40-acre Loon Organics farm in Hutchinson, she felt like she had something tangible to show for her effort at the end of the day. She could also leave the work at the end of the day and focus on her family.
“There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty to feel like you’ve accomplished something,” said Jakus. “It’s very rewarding.”
Jakus weighed whether to do a five-year apprenticeship program or the five-month training course, and decided that the shorter program would be a good test to see if she really likes the work or not.
“If I’m totally off-base, I’ll pivot,” she said.
Her husband, Matt Horn, also switched career fields recently, earning his third degree from Bethel University and stepping into a physicians assistant role about two years ago.
CHANGES FOR THE LBA
Jakus has been considering a job change for awhile, and has decided to leave LBA as the organization itself transitions.
Following several strategic planning sessions, led by Amy Arcand of Willow Consulting, the board began considering how its role has changed in the last 25 years, what it does well, and what it wants to do.
Twenty-five years ago, businesses needed an organization that served as a go-between them and the city. The city is more accessible now, according to Jakus. Membership dues won’t support more than a few hours of staffing time, and people aren’t joining organizations and paying dues like they used to. Board members asked themselves how they stay relevant while remaining financially stable.
They investigated combining roles and resources with the Longfellow Community Council and Redesign. They have decided to move forward with a shared, full-time employee that will do work for the LBA, SCCO, and Redesign, as all three have staff openings. The staff member will be based out of the Redesign office on Franklin Ave., but the three organizations will still operate independently and maintain their non-profit statuses. The intent is to cut down on any redundancies and increase capacity.
“I think it’s the right step for the organization,” said Jakus.
The LBA will be updating its bylaws, which was last done in 1998, and are creating job descriptions for board members. The board plans to change how often it meets with the intent of more easily recruiting new members. Instead of one-hour monthly meetings, the full LBA board plans to switch to quarterly, two-hour-long meetings. The executive committee will meet each month with the staff member. New board members will be voted in at the annual meeting this spring, which will be the first held since COVID-19 interrupted things.
The new position will be posted soon. In the meantime, Jakus will assist with the annual LBA membership drive, and board member Denis Woulfe (who works as a sales representative for the Messenger) will respond to calls and email.
“I think everyone agrees that Kim has been an incredible asset to the LBA and will be sorely missed. She’s been a great connector of people, programs, and community assets. I’ve joked about this given the nature of her career aspirations, but it’s completely accurate to say that I know Kim will bring a lot of energy to her next line of work just as she did with her work at the LBA,” said Woulfe.
“I think the LBA is at an important crossroads right now. Because of its hard work and its history in Longfellow over the years, it has earned a seat at the table as Minneapolis grapples with challenging decisions moving forward as the community continues to rebuild. The LBA, working with community partners, will be part of that process.”
“We’re doing great stuff in the neighborhood,” said Cathy Heying during the LBA holiday luncheon on Dec. 8, 2022. “I’m proud of the great stuff we’re doing. I want to thank you for creating a neighborhood where I love working and living.
Learn more about the new position to serve the LBA here: https://jobs.minnesotanonprofits.org/job/business-outreach-specialist-minneapolis-minnesota-77083
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