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February 9, 2001

Minnesota Director of Tourism Pledges Support

By Jolene Bracy
UW-RF News Bureau

Minnesota Office of Tourism Director John Edman promised to lend his personal and professional support to the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance, which includes 20 communities in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

His comments came during a SCVRTA business meeting and luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Stillwater, Minn.

Edman, previously with Carlson Companies, has been director at the Minnesota Office of Tourism since October. Edman pledged his support to SCVRTA, recognizing the value of dual state involvement to the hospitality and tourism industry. "The St. Croix Valley is my backyard, too. I want to do what I can to help promote the region," said Edman.

"I grew up in this area. I have utilized many places in the St. Croix Valley, including boating on the St. Croix River, OıBrien State Park, Clifton Hollow Golf Course, and I have golfed in New Richmond," he continued. "There are a lot of different things we can do to support this organization (the Alliance) and involve more communities."

The St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance serves 20 communities in the scenic St. Croix Valley. Its member communities include Prescott, River Falls, Hudson, North Hudson, Somerset, New Richmond, Star Prairie, Osceola, Dresser and St. Croix Falls in Wisconsin. Minnesota communities include Hastings, Afton, Lakeland, Bayport, Oak Park Heights, Lake Elmo, Stillwater, Marine on St. Croix, Scandia, Copas, Center City and Taylors Falls.

Priorities the Alliance listed for Edman are:

•Gov. Jesse Venturaıs attendance in August at the annual Governorıs Cruise on the St. Croix with Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum.

•Compatibility in the ways the Alliance can use grant monies from the Minnesota Office of Tourism and the Wisconisn Department of Tourism for Alliance marketing campaigns.

•Greater assistance from the Minnesota office in encouraging community participation in collaborative marketing associations like the Alliance.

Edman said he is willing to listen to new ideas and pitch them to Ventura, including the Governorıs Cruise, which has been a high profile event in the past.Edman asked the Alliance to give him a "wish list" of services and assistance it would like from his office, and to keep him apprised of the group's needs and challenges in promoting hospitality and tourism.

Keeping cities involved can be a daunting task. "We canıt do it alone," said SCVRTA President Lynn Regnier of New Richmond. More active participation is needed. Edman is open to suggestions from SCVRTA members and businesses. "We need to find and introduce ways to support each other and work together," he said.

SCVRTA formed specifically for marketing purposes seven years ago. The group is "enormously successful" said Mark Kinders, from UW-River Falls and the Alliance's vice president. He noted the Alliance has conducted many productive marketing campaigns, and as a result has been recognized regionally and nationally for its work. "We have received a number of awards, including the 'Trailblazer Award for Excellence in the Use of Technology' for our website. We debuted the website live, online from the St. Croix River at the Governorıs Cruise," he noted. This web site is the first bi-state, regional site to specifically promote tourism in either state. The web site location is

Other SCVRTA achievements include numerous marketing campaigns through the Upper Midwest. The most recent is a 48-page magazine publication of the "Wild and Scenic St. Croix Valley," the 2000 Visitorıs Guide. About 50,000 copies of the 2001 Visitors Guide will be released in March.

This yearıs main project is an Economic Development Impact Survey. Supported by funding from Xcel energy, the Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission and the U.S. Park Service, the survey is the first-ever community specific analysis of the region. The hospitality and tourism industry is often undervalued, Kinders noted. This benchmark study will provide detailed economic impact information tailored to each individual community.

In other business, Alliance members unveiled an "Arts in the Valley" theme for this yearıs National Tourism Week celebration. The shining star of the event is an elegant cruise aboard the Grand Duchess on Friday, May 4. Guests can embark on an evening cruise with a champagne social, featuring a string ensemble. The activities include dinner, an auction for dinner at the captainıs table, a "funny-money" auction for community gift packages that include such benefits as stays at area Bed and Breakfasts, dinners, and tickets to area events. Horse racing enthusiasts have the opportunity to buy and race their own "pogo pony" at the on-board Derby. Tickets are $45 per person. Information about the cruise is available through the Baker-Brewster Bed & Breakfast in Hudson at 715/381-2895.

Representatives of SCVRTA at the meeting were: Lynn Regnier, New Richmond Area Chamber; Sue Matthews, Polk County Information Center; Jan Sawinski, Minnesota Office of Tourism, Linda Grandstrand, St. Croix Falls Chamber; Connie Weiss, Asa Parker Bed and Breakfast, Marine-On-St. Croix; Yvonne Montieth, River Valley Inn, Osceola; Pat Kytola, Osceola Chamber and Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway; Charlene Berg, Pleasant Lake Bed and Breakfast, Osceola; Chuck Dougherty, Lumber Baronıs Hotel and Greater Stillwater Chamber; Chris Baldus, Stillwater Gazette; Sheryl E-Marshall, PressEnter, River Falls; Mark Kinders, UW-River Falls; Darlene Metzler, Prescott Area Chamber; Brad Meier, River Falls Chamber; Jonna Matthys, New Richmond Harley-Davidson; Sue Fule and Sara Orman from Absolute Advantage Guided Tour Shuttles, Stillwater; Rich Hafdahl, Downtown Dental, Osceola; Karen Spicer, Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau; Randy Fulton, Vacation Sports, White Bear Lake; and Don Meyer, Minnesota Transportation Museum, Minneapolis; and Steve Russell, Community Development Director, City of Stillwater.

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