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April 7, 2001

Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Meets with Alliance

By Jolene Bracy
UWRF-News Bureau

Wisconsin tourism leaders will work closely with their Minnesota counterparts to provide easier access to state marketing grants for tourism promotion.

That pledge was made by Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Moose Speros on Wednesday during a meeting with the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance.

Speros is committed to working with the Alliance and is willing to work with John Edman, Director of Tourism for Minnesota, to address bi-state funding issues and grant matching policies. If the grants from each state are in compliance, all communities in the Alliance will benefit. Edman pledged his support to the Alliance during a meeting in Stillwater in February.

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.

"Wisconsin and Minnesota have what it takes for a successful tourism industry. We have the geographic location, the population and the product. There are other states out there that just don't have it," said Speros. "We have a great product and great hospitality in the St. Croix Valley. The more product you have, the more customers you will have," said Speros.

Joining Speros for the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance luncheon meeting at the New Richmond Golf Course were department staff members Winfield MacDonald, advertising manager, and Ruth Goetz, the department's Northern Wisconsin tourism consultant.

According to Speros, tourists spend $316 per second in Wisconsin, with about $11 billion in annual economic impact and tax revenue of more than $1.5 billion, said Speros.

Speros heard from Alliance members that having Gov. Scott McCallum attend a river cruise with Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is a major goal for the group. The Governoršs Cruise Event is slated for August.

In other business, the Alliance addressed the following items:

•The 2001 Visitors Guide will be released Friday, April 6. 50,000 guides will be distributed in the St. Croix Valley and Twin cities metro area.

• The Tourism Week Event, "Arts in the Valley," featuring an auction of artwork and community and business gift baskets, will be held on the Grand Duchess, moored in Hudson, on Friday, May 4.

•The Governoršs Cruise, scheduled for August.

• The Alliance is pursuing additional funding for an economic impact study of tourism on the individual communities in the Valley.

Members of the Alliance attending the luncheon: Lynn Regnier, New Richmond Area Chamber; Connie Weiss, Asa Parker Bed and Breakfast, Marine-On-St. Croix; Yvonne Montieth, River Valley Inn, Osceola; Rick and Charlene Berg, Pleasant Lake Bed and Breakfast, Osceola; RobertBarbion, New Richmond city planner; Erv Sather, Heritage Center, New Richmond; Norman Steere, River Valley Arts Association, Stillwater, Minn.; Sheryl E-Marshall, PressEnter, River Falls; Mark Kinders, UW-River Falls; Brad Meier, River Falls Chamber; Jonna Matthys, New Richmond Harley-Davidson; Rich Hafdahl, Downtown Dental, Osceola; Karen Spicer, Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau; Rusty Huginville, Hudson Area Chamber & Visitor's Bureau, and Randy Fulton, Vacation Sports, White Bear Lake.

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