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Feb 20 15

Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference Highlights

by Melissa


Conference-Photos (1)

John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism

The Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference was held February 3-4 at the St. Paul River Centre.  Hundreds of chambers, business owners, hotel/resort owners, and others gathered to share and learn new marketing strategies that our society is now turning to. From utilizing Instagram, to targeting audiences via Facebook, to going digital, the marketing strategies have changed drastically over the past few years.  John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, discussed industry trends and how tourism is changing today. You can view Edman’s and other keynote speakers here.

Edman stresses the importance of the positive economic impact tourism has on every county in Minnesota. Shown below you’ll find the economic impact tourism had on the state of Minnesota in 2013.

Minnesotas Economic Impact: Sales and Jobs (2013)

Travel/tourism in Minnesota generates:


  • $13 billion in gross sales
  • More than $35 million a day


  • 250,000 full and part-time jobs
  • 11% of total private sector employment
  • Almost $4.5 billion in wages  


  • $840 million in state sales tax
  • 17% of state sales tax revenues

Growth in the tourism industry

Sales at leisure and hospitality businesses grew 49% from 2003 to 2013, including 4% annual growth for 2013.
2003 ($8.7 Billion) ——– 2008 ($11.8 Billion) ———- 2013 ($13.8 Billion)

Impacts of state tourism advertising

  • 3.1 million Minnesota trips
  • $320.2 million traveler spending
  • $29.7 million direct state and local taxes
  • 2.0 million additional intended trips in next 12 months
  • $68 to $1 traveler spending return on ad investment
  • $6 to $1 state and local tax return on ad investment

Economic Impact by County
Minnesota’s Leisure and Hospitality Industry, 2013

Counties Gross Sales Sales Tax Private Sector Employment
Big Stone $4,442,658 $316,833 129
Chippewa $14,980,984 $1,049,987 381
Lac Qui Parle $3,951,985 $282,207 95
Swift $8,758,191 $621, 633 229
Yellow Medicine $13,002,744 $503,744 199
TOTAL $45,136,562 $2,152,771 1,033

 The Leisure and Hospitality industry consists of Accommodations; Food Services and Drinking Places; and Arts, Entertainment and Recreation. Sources: Minnesota Department of Revenue; Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Interesting Marketing Ideas…

There are three different types of groups you should focus your marketing around:

  • Baby Boomers: (61+) focus your marketing around the months of April, May, Sept, Oct and between Thursday and Monday.
  • Millennials: Interested in topics such as Culinary, Art in Action, Culture, and Home & Gardens (Farmers markets). ** Skew marketing younger and the boomers will follow the millennials.
  • Women: women make up 80% retail spending, 70% travel decision, and use the internet 80% of the time before buying (want to feel safe before making a decision)
  • Create multigenerational trip ideas for your visitors and website, give them unique options – they are looking for the unusual
  • What makes you different or clearly better – everyone has that charming café that serves homemade food, but why does yours stand out from others (ex. Beef commercials – unique food that you generally only see in Western Minnesota)
  • Don’t try and be a destination that you aren’t, embrace what you own (Fishing, Hunting, Stargazing, unique museums and landmarks, etc.)
  • Focusing events and driving traffic downtown is key
  • Follow the 7 – 8 – 7 Rule
    • 70% retail spending takes place after 6:00pm
    • 80% are women’s sales
    • 70% is curb appeal – make your downtown and outside of your store appealing

You can visit the Explore Minnesota Tourism website for the full speaker presentations and conference highlights, but below are some interesting facts and ideas to share and to think about.

Feb 13 15

Office Closure

by Jackie S

Our office will be closed on Monday, February 16th in observance of President’s Day.  We will reopen on Tuesday the 17th at 8am.

Feb 10 15

MnDOT Safe Routes to School grants support 101 Minnesota Schools!

by Melissa

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced the recipients of $250,000 in Safe Routes to School grants that support walking and biking programs at K-12 schools in the state.

Mini-grants totaling $125,000 will support the Safe Routes to School program at 64 schools, reaching nearly 40,000 students. An additional $125,000 will fund bicycle fleets, trailers and supplies in four communities committed to working with 37 schools to teach bicycle safety.

Regional partners from across Minnesota will help administer grants in their region.

The Safe Routes to School grants will support non-infrastructure activities such as training and supplies for school patrol programs, incentives and materials for events that encourage walking and biking, bicycle racks and trailers, and teacher curriculum training.

“More than 100 schools across the state are now supporting the Safe Routes to School program and increasing opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and near schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded nearly $20 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding was for infrastructure projects. For a list of projects, go to the Safe Routes to School legislative report at and go to Appendix C.

In 2013, Gov. Dayton and the legislature authorized $500,000 in general funds for Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure activities over the biennium.

In January, Gov. Dayton proposed an additional $5 million investment over the next two years to continue to support biking and walking infrastructure and Safe Routes to School programs.

This year, schools received non-infrastructure grants in two categories:

  • Mini-Grants – These grants of up to $2,500 can be used for crossing guard supplies, bicycle maintenance equipment, and incentives for walking and biking.
  • Bicycle Fleets and Trailers – Grants can be used to purchase a fleet of bicycles and trailer and supplies. These bicycles help implement the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota’s Walk! Bike! Fun! Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety curriculum. Each bike fleet recipient will also receive Walk! Bike! Fun! teacher training.

MnDOT announced the available grants in October 2014. The agency received 85 applications requesting approximately $538,000; it funded 68 grants. A $1 million infrastructure solicitation was also announced in October. Those state-funded awards will be announced in March.

The list of grant recipients is below. More information is available at

Safe Routes to School 2014-2015 grants 

Regional Applications

Southwest Regional Development Commission                               

Riverside Elementary, Jackson; Windom Area Public Schools, Windom; Prairie Elementary, Worthington; Pipestone Area School District, Pipestone; Pleasantview Elementary, Lakeview; Jackson County Central Middle School, Lakefield; Heron Lake, Okabena and Okabena/Heron Lake; Jackson County Central High School, Jackson; Worthington Middle School and High School, Worthington

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission
Grand Marais, Moose Lake, Fond du Lac, Esko, Barnum, Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor

CentraCare Health Foundation, BLEND
Rice Elementary, Rice; Pleasantview, Sauk Rapids; Sartell Police Department, Sartell; Melrose Public Schools, Melrose   

Minneapolis Public Schools
Jefferson Elementary, Pillsbury School, Whittier Community School, Bethune Community School, Seward Montessori, Bancroft Elementary School, South High School, Roosevelt High School

Mid-Minnesota Development Commission
Glencoe Silverlake School District, Glencoe; New London Spicer School District, New London; Willmar School District, Willmar

East Central Regional Development Commission
Kanabec County Safe Roads Coalition (five schools), Mora; North Branch Area Public Schools, North Branch                   

Arrowhead Development Commission
Minnehaha, Two Harbors; Great Expectations School, Grand Marais; Fond du lac Ojibwe School, Cloquet; Congdon Park Elementary, Duluth; William Kelley Elementary and High School, Silver Bay; Sawtooth Elementary School, Grand Marais; Washington Elementary, Cloquet; Churchill Elementary, Cloquet; Moose Lake School, Moose Lake; South Terrace Elementary, Carlton; Esko Public Schools, Esko; Myers-Wilkins Elementary, Duluth; Rippleside Elementary, Aitken; Hill City School, Hill City

West Central Initiative
Rothsay Public Schools, Rothsay

St. Paul Public Schools
American Indian at Mounds Park; Highwood Hills Elementary; Jackson Elementary; L’Etoile du Nord Lower; L’Etoile du Nord Upper; Linwood-Monroe Arts Plus; Paul and Sheila Wellstone; The Heights Community School

Live Healthy, Red Wing
Sunnyside School, Burnside School

Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission
Stevens Elementary School, Dawson; Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Murdock; Clarkfield Area Charter School, Clarkfield; Ortonville School, Ortonville

Individual Schools
St. Mark’s School, St. Paul; Pine River-Backus School District, Pine River; Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial School District, Lake Crystal; St. Anthony Park Elementary School, St. Paul

Bike Fleet Awards

Duluth Area Family YMCA, Duluth
Myers-Wilkins Elementary; Piedmont Elementary; Congdon Park Elementary; Lester Park Elementary; Laura MacArthur Elementary; Damiano Center; KEYzone; U of M Duluth Recreational Sports Outdoor Program; YMCA out of school time programs; YMCA Camp Miller; Duluth Police Department

Perham-Dent Public School District, Perham; and Battle Lake Public School District, Battle Lake
Heart of Lakes Elementary School; Prairie Wind Middle School; Boys and Girls Club; St. Henry’s Catholic School; St. Paul’s Lutheran School; Perham Area Community Center-Summer Rec; Battle Lake Public School District

St. Charles Public Schools ISD 858, St. Charles
St. Charles Elementary; St. Charles High School; St. Charles Park and Recreation; Get Active Club; Project FINE; Whitewater Country Coalition; St. Charles Community Education

Three Rivers Park District, Plymouth
Brooklyn Center Secondary Arts and IB World School; Earle Brown Elementary; Evergreen Park World Cultures Community School; Northport Elementary; Plymouth Middle School; Independent Charter; Odyssey Academy; Park Brook Elementary; Three Rivers Park District Programs; City of Brooklyn Center (Parks and Recreation, Police Department); City of Brooklyn Park (Parks and Recreation); Venture North Bike Shop

Feb 10 15

Minnesota Food Charter Event

by Melissa

Create access to safe, healthy, affordable food for all!

The Minnesota Food Charter is a shared roadmap designed to provide access to safe, affordable, healthy food for all the state’s residents. Developed by thousands of Minnesotans, including many of you in southwest and west central Minnesota, the Food Charter describes policy and systems changes that create healthier food environments, food skills, and food infrastructure.

Join us for a Minnesota Food Charter Launch Event in our region:

WHEN : Tuesday, March 24
12:30 Arrival and Networking
1 pm to 4 pm Program and Discussion

WHERE : Granite Falls, Kilowatt Community Center
600 Kilowatt Drive, Granite Falls


HOSTED BY : Countryside Public Health, Land Stewardship Project, University of Minnesota Extension, Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) and the Southwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.
You’ll be joined by others from your community or organization to explore the Minnesota Food Charter, selecting policy and systems change strategies that matter to you and your partners.
To learn about the Minnesota Food Charter:
For more information, contact:
Anne Dybsetter, Extension Educator–Health & Nutrition,
320-235-0726 x 2012,

Jan 19 15

NOW HIRING: Assistant Finance Director

by Melissa

Assistant Finance Director
RDC logo - square, with tagline

Challenging position in well-established, quality organization. Enjoy a professional, dynamic and creative culture, flexible work environment,  exceptional benefits (Medical, Dental, Life Insurance, Flex Spending, employer funded HSA, Vacation, Sick, Paid Holidays, PERA and other retirement options) and career growth

The Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC) is looking for an experienced finance professional. This is a challenging position in well-established, quality organization. This position involves a strong working knowledge of accounting principles and procedures, A-133 audit preparation, compliance with state and federal grant conditions, financial reports and budgets, internal control procedures, payroll and accounts payable functions. Career growth opportunities exist.

The ideal candidate will display excellent communication, leadership and supervisory skills for this position. Candidates should demonstrate strong work ethic, excellent attention to detail, be well organized, have the ability to work independently on diverse projects and be a team player.  Passion for customer service and for cultivating community relationships a must.

Application and full position description available at EOE.

The position is available starting immediately. Applications are reviewed every two weeks and the position will remain open until filled.


Job offers are not final until receiving the UMVRDC Board of Commissioners approval and upon successful competition of a background and credit check.

To Apply

  • Please complete the application electronically, print a copy, then sign and date it. Application is available here. 
  • Send application, copies of college transcripts, and cover letter highlighting three things you can bring to the UMVRDC Finance Team to:

Executive Director 323 West Schlieman Avenue Appleton, MN 56208 320-289-1981 ext. 101