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St. Croix Valley Alliance Cited As Wisconsin Initiative

August 28, 1998

The bi-state St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance has been recognized as a model economic development initiative by Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc.

The alliance was selected as one of Wisconsin's Top 50 Rural Development Initiatives, according to Kelly Haverkampf, executive director Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc.

The bi-state tourism alliance will be recognized by Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson during the Governor's Rural Summit 2 economic development conference at Mosinee on Sept. 3.

Thompson will announce at that time which of the selected initiatives has been chose for recognition as a Top 10 state project.

The award was sponsored by Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to engage rural partners to identify issues and enhance community life.

"We're really honored to be recognized in this manner by the Rural Partners," said Alliance President Mary Claire Olson, who is the president of the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

"The Alliance is proud of its accomplishments and as a result of them sees a really bright future for tourism as an economic development engine for the St. Croix Valley. It's great to have such an important organization single us out for recognition and to hold us up as a model to other tourism collaboratives."

Judging criteria included demonstrating the spirit of partnership or collaboration in making it a success, how widespread and long-term the positive impact is for the communities, and how the Alliance would serve as a model for other communities.

The St. Croix Valley Regional Tourism Alliance includes 19 communities in Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties in Wisconsin, and Dakota, Washington and Chisago counties in Minnesota.

Its Minnesota communities include: Afton, Bayport, Center City, Hastings, Lakeland, Lake Elmo, Marine on St. Croix, Oak Park Heights, Scandia, Stillwater and Taylors Falls. Wisconsin communities include: Dresser, Hudson, New Richmond, Osceola, Prescott, River Falls, St. Croix Falls and Somerset.

The Alliance was nominated for the award by Mark Kinders, public affairs director at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, who serves as the bi-state group's marketing chair.

Kinders noted that since inception, the Alliance communities have worked collaboratively with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the Minnesota Office of Tourism, and UW-River Falls with extraordinary success.

Since it was incorporated five years ago, it has attracted over $80,000 in grant and underwriting to produce 75,000 information packets distributed through the Midwest; hosted Gov. Tommy Thompson five times on the Governors' Boat Cruise to provide visibility to tourism; launched an award-winning Web site; held educational workshops in marketing and in Web site development; conducted a Media Familiarization Tour; and represented tourism interests to the National Park Service Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway Planning Task Force.

The organization also has shared its formula for success—bylaws, constitution, working relationships, strategic plan, strategic marketing plan—to many other organizations that are considering forming a similar alliance, Kinders said.

The Alliance in partnership with UW-River Falls was cited as a national collaborative model in 1997 through a Silver Medal by the Council for the Advancement & Support of Education.

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