The 15th Successful Meander Arts Crawl
The 15th annual Meander Art Crawl, had strong attendance and was well regarded by its many visitors, continuing a strong tradition in the five-county area of the Upper Minnesota River Valley.
Artists at Meander studios and galleries reported hosting between 120 and 1,500 customers during the three-day event. Art sales during the Meander totaled just over $108,000 with average sales up nearly eight percent over last year. Meander customers, traveling in groups that averaged 2.5 people, spent an average of $103 on Meander art and visited an average of 11 studios and galleries during the event.View Stats
Jordan Hulscher joined the UMVRDC team in December 2018. As a Program Assistant, she will have the opportunity to assist planners in the office and work on many different projects. Some of those projects include the Prairie Waters Tourism Program, Meander, the Revolving Loan Fund, and various marketing tasks for the UMVRDC. Jordan is passionate about helping others and is excited to be able to do that in this position through meaningful, regional development work and relationship building. Jordan has a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies, along with a minor in Events and Facilities Administration from South Dakota State University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the area and spending time with family and friends. Jordan is driven by opportunities to meet new people, a desire to make a positive impact, creative challenges, and coffee. Jordan is honored to be part of an agency that serves such great communities! Welcome Jordan!
New and Expanding Regional Business’ Accessing Revolving Loan Funds
Keith Knutson and Colin Bergeson utilized the UMVRDC’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) dollars to open their new business, Hilltop Bar & Grill in Dawson. Their $40,000 UMVRDC loan was part of a financing package that included financing from the Dawson Co-op Credit Union and the Lac qui Parle EDA.
In October, the UMVRDC closed a new loan with Headquarters Bar and Grill in Graceville. Cory Fuhrman was able to expand his existing business with $90,000 in UMVRDC RLF funds along with the First Bank and Trust. Cory is predicting that eleven jobs are going to be created and retained through his expansion project.
The RLF works to help businesses by creating a financial package to fund their start-up or expansion project. A primary focus of the UMVRDC’s RLF is job creation and retention in the region. The funds can assist in financing fixed assets, real estate, and working capital.
Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Announce Funding Recommendations
The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC) announced their project recommendations to the legislature for the fiscal year 2020 budget. The GMRPTC received nearly $21 million in requests from regional parks this year. The Commission had only $8.6million available so not all funding requests could be funded.
Granite Falls Memorial Park, a regional park designated in 2016, is recommended for partial funding in the amount of $150,000 to complete work on the large shelter house.
This amount will allow the City of Granite Falls to complete rehabilitation of the exterior masonry and the fireplace in the large park shelter. Improvements to the roof and interior of the building was funded in Phase 1. The total grant originally requested $964,819.
The Lac qui Parle County Park was designated as a regional park earlier this summer. They also applied for a grant to complete projects within their park in the amount of $920,581 but their request was not recommended for funding. They will be able to apply again in the summer of 2019.
The GMRPTC, created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013, undertakes system planning and provides recommendations to the legislature for grants funded by the parks and trails fund, to counties and cities outside of the seven-county metropolitan area for parks and trails of regional significance.More info
2018 Prairie Waters Regional Marketing Project Highlights
Distributed the 2017-2018 visitor guides across the region to local businesses, chambers, city halls, travel information centers throughout the state, Mall of America Visitor Bureau, and mailed out per request.
Started working on the 2019-2020 relocation/visitor guide. The new guide will have a robust listing of all the things to do in the area, information on healthcare, childcare, education, housing, employment opportunities, and more. The intent of these guides is to be used for visitors and a recruitment tool for employers.
In January 2018 Prairie Waters launched a new website that includes information on employment opportunities, housing, education, healthcare, childcare and stories. The new website now includes information to make it easier for potential new residents to move to the region.
Created customized snapshots that visually showcases each community and county. These snapshots can be embedded onto any website, used on social media and any other online marketing platform.
The UMVRDC continues to collect new photos, videos, interviews and blogs of the region to showcase the region’s assets and highlight the great amenities. The new imagery can be accessed through Dropbox and downloaded for cities, counties, businesses and organizations to utilize on their websites and/or marketing materials.
The UMVRDC has been working with a licensed drone pilot to capture aerial footage of the region, that footage is also available via a download link. The footage has been used to create over 8 regional videos.
Explore Minnesota Tourism Partnership
Prairie Waters received a $7000 grant from Explore Minnesota Tourism to advertise the region. Publications include: Southern MN Guide, Pheasants Forever, Midwest Living, South Dakota Magazine, AAA Living, Facebook, Google Adwords, etc. In addition, we’ve done local and regional advertising.
Social Media & Target Marketing Campaigns
Prairie Waters is very active on Facebook regularly sharing, posting, and engaging with over 5,000 followers. Staff created targeted Facebook and Google Adwords campaigns based on specific demographics, geography, interests and behaviors to get the message of moving to our region in-front of the right people.
Calendar of Events
Each year Prairie Waters collects information of all the events taking place in the region. The Prairie Waters website has a regional calendar where you can find information on upcoming events. Events are also posted on the Explore Minnesota Tourism (EMT) website and submitted to the EMT quarterly newsletter.
Stories have been collected to showcase the lifestyle of living rural and highlighting unique businesses and entrepreneurs in the region. The stories can be found on the website and have been shared on social media.
Prairie Waters Annual Event
The 2018 Prairie Waters Annual Gathering was held at the Wegdahl County Park late September. It was the perfect evening for a bonfire and smores, pontoon rides from Let’s Go Fishing, minnow races, presentations from the DNR with a live fish display, games, prizes, entertainment from DJ Systems, BBQ and Talking Waters Brewery!
Each year Prairie Waters highlights a different unique asset within the region as the event location rotates location annually.
A year in review: The Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway
The mission of the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway Alliance (MRVSBA) is to cooperatively enhance the Minnesota River Valley as a travel destination and raise awareness of its nationally important stories to provide economic benefits and preserve the intrinsic qualities of the byway.
The MRVSBA is a partnership of committed individuals from the 287-mile byway corridor, representing a variety of interests including chambers of commerce, various attractions and historic sites, state parks, local and state governmental bodies, private businesses, and concerned individuals. The UMVRDC has been providing staffing and fiscal services to the byway since 1996.
This past year the MRVSBA has completed the following:
• Completed an updated Corridor Management Plan and Marketing Plan. These plans are listed on the website at: http://www.mnrivervalley.com/publications/comprehensive-plan/
• Completed a new visitors guide: http://www.mnrivervalley.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Byway2018-FinalProof-July11th-compressed.pdf
• Promoted the Byway through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mnrivervalley/
• Completed website updates and added Dakota content: http://www.mnrivervalley.com/dakota-homeland-story/ and http://www.mnrivervalley.com/things-to-do/?mpfy-pin=689&mpfy-tooltip
• Contributed to the Minnesota Byway Statewide Strategic Planning process. A Statewide Strategic plan was just completed.
• Attended the Minnesota Statewide Byway Conference in November. This is a great time to connect with other byways and work towards statewide efforts.
• Promoted our byway videos on Facebook through ads and shares: http://www.mnrivervalley.com/stories/videos/
The byway plays a key role in linking and promoting historical sites and stories to better tell the history of the Minnesota River Valley through a variety of efforts, including its programs, website, roadside signs, brochures, and other marketing materials.