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Last updated:
May 17, 2002

St. Croix Riverway Tourism Alliance Elects Officers

New officers were recently elected for the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance, a regionally and nationally recognized cooperative tourism marketing collaboration.

Elected president was Mark Kinders, public affairs director for UW-River Falls; the new vice president is Brad Meier, executive director of the River Falls Areas Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Re-elected secretary is Karen Spicer, administrative assistant with the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau; and re-elected as treasurer is Dr. Richard Hafdahl of Osceola. The immediate past president is Lynn Regnier, executive director of the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau.

The Alliance serves numerous communities in the scenic St. Croix Valley. Communities in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin include Prescott, River Falls, Hudson, North Hudson, Somerset, New Richmond, Star Prairie, Osceola, Dresser and St. Croix Falls. Minnesota communities in Dakota, Washington and Chisago counties include Hastings, Afton, Lakeland, Bayport, Oak Park Heights, Lake Elmo, Stillwater, Marine on St. Croix, Scandia, Copas, Center City and Taylors Falls.

The Alliance was formed to market the Valley eight years ago. The group is "enormously successful" said Kinders. 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 Governor's Cruise," he noted. This web site is the first bi-state, regional site to specifically promote tourism in either state. The web site was redesigned this year and given its own distinct domain name: www.saintcroixriver.com.

Other SCVRTA achievements include numerous marketing campaigns throughput the Upper Midwest, often with collaborative assistance through grants from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the Minnesota Office of Tourism.

This winter, Kinders noted, the Alliance conducted an intensive public relations campaign to promote the Valley as a winter-time tourism getaway destination. The campaign included press kits to 250 media outlets and travel writers throughout the Upper Midwest; an interactive CD; the purchase of a trade show booth and participation in tourism shows in Des Moines and Minneapolis; and a media familiarization tour.

"It was a excellent campaign," Kinders said. "We generated stories by some of the leading media in the Midwest. And, importantly, we played a role in producing a significant economic impact for the tourism industry, with over $230,000 in additional revenue in the lodging industry. In the aftermath of the economic downturn, September 11th, and a lack of snow for winter recreation, we were really pleased to be able to help reverse their negative impact and to help our local economies to grow."

This year's main projects are to increase Alliance membership and to conclude an economic impact survey. Supported by private funding from Xcel Energy, the First National Bank of River Falls, the Stillwater Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, and technical support from the UW-River Falls Survey Research Center, the survey is the first-ever community specific analysis of the region. The hospitality and tourism industry too often undervalued, Kinders noted. This benchmark study will provide detailed economic impact information tailored to each individual community.

For more information about the Alliance, contact Kinders at 715/425-3771.

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