University of Wisconsin - River Falls

May 9, 1997

CASE Cites UW-RF Tourism Assistance

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education has cited UW-River Falls nationally for its economic development assistance to a bi-state regional tourism alliance.

The University was notified that it was awarded a Silver Medal from CASE through its Circle of Excellence Awards Program in the category of Community Relations Programs & Projects.

UW-RF professionals sharing in the award for their assistance over the past year to the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance are: Mark Kinders, public affairs director, who assists the Alliance as its marketing chair; Professor David Trechter, director of the UW-RF Cooperative Development Initiative and Linda Jacobson, CDI associate director, for their strategic planning assistance; and Marlys Nelson, UW-RF World Wide Web coordinator, for her construction of a searchable database for prospective visitors to the Valley.

Nearly 3,000 public and private higher education institutions, two-year colleges, private preparatory schools and educationally related non-profit organizations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and 27 other nations are CASE members.

It includes some 14,250 advancement professionals who specialize in such areas as educational fundraising, alumni relations, media relations, legislative and public affairs, publications and admissions. Its membership also includes chancellors, presidents and deans.

The Alliance includes 19 communities in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin, and Dakota, Washington and Chisago counties in Minnesota. The Wisconsin communities are Prescott, River Falls, Hudson, Somerset, New Richmond, Osceola, Dresser and St. Croix Falls. Minnesota communities are Hastings, Afton, Lakeland, Bayport, Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, Marine-on-St. Croix, Lake Elmo, Scandia, Center City and Taylors Falls.

The four-year-old alliance was formed as a cooperative venture to jointly market to visitors those communities bordering the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Chancellor Gary A. Thibodeau said the selection underscores the University's mission to provide economic assistance to the St. Croix Valley:

"The CASE award recognizes the successful 'good neighbor' relationship that exists between UW-River Falls and the communities it serves in the St Croix River Valley. I am proud of the success of the Tourism Alliance and the leadership roles that UW-RF professionals have played in its development."

Announcing the award was Larry Burke, director of university relations at Boise State University, who chaired the judging team. He told UW-RF: "Through your entry, you demonstrated that the University of Wisconsin- River Falls is a vital partner in the St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance. Your affiliation with the SCVRTA provides others with an ideal example of how a university can interact with its community to serve the public good. It is especially impressive that your partnership impacts so many communities, including several across your state border.

"I'm confident that other schools will use your program as a model as they search for ways to assist their communities in economic development."

Among the activities cited by CASE in presenting the award were:

  • Coordinating the production of the Alliance's priority marketing project, "Seasons in the Scenic St. Croix Valley." It included the first recreational map ever produced of the Valley, as well as a visitors discount book. Acting as fiscal agent, UW-RF obtained $34,162 in grants from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and the Minnesota Office of Tourism to produce the packet and distribute it through an advertising campaign reaching 12 million newspaper and magazine readers in the Upper Midwest.

  • Through a grant by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to the Cooperative Development Initiative, UW-RF provided strategic planning and strategic marketing assistance to achieve membership and financial stability.

  • Through the CDI, printed and distributed an "ASK US" directory-a 120-page book outlining all visitors' amenities in the Riverway. This directory was distributed free to all federal, state and local information sites to respond to visitors' inquiries. It is available for sale to Alliance businesses.

  • Converted the ASK US directory to a searchable database on the World Wide Web and premiered the site during a live up-link presentation on the St. Croix River for Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Minnesota Lt. Gov. Joanne Benson. The site can be found at:

  • Represented the tourism and hospitality industry to the National Park Service Lower St. Croix Planning Task Force that is developing a 20-year plan to manage the river as a National Park under the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act.

  • Represented the tourism and hospitality industry to a six-state forum on tourism sponsored by the Ninth Federal Reserve District Advisory Council on Small Business, Agriculture and Labor. The session concluded with the Federal Reserve committing to developing reliable methods to measure tourism economic impact and to study the Fed's practices on lending to the hospitality and tourism industry.

  • Alliance President Sheryl E-Marshall, who also serves as the executive director of the River Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, concluded that the award was well-deserved:

    "The University is so much more than a school and an educational resource. It touches our communities in so many ways, and through its work with the Alliance it has reached even more.

    "UW-River Falls has a greater vision in what it sees that it has in the way of resources it can share with all of the St. Croix River Valley. And as a partner, they share with the Valley what we in River Falls sometimes take for granted."

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