I'm writing this column on Valentine's Day, another opportunity to support our local businesses rather than order online or shop at a large box store. Easter and Mother's Day is coming up before you know it. Please consider where you spend your money on these gift giving occasions and every day. Local business owners support our town, donate to non-profits and keep the money circulating locally. Granite Falls has a scenic location and the we're lucky to be located at the intersection of three major highways and along the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway. Visitor's bring in business, but we also need local residents support to keep our town vital and our shops open.

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Prairie's Edge Casino Resort has a new website that is user friendly, looks great and has included a "visiting" section with links to many local attractions. With the amount of traffic they get on their website, this is a huge benefit to our community. Check it out at www.prairiesedgecasino.com. Thank you to two young, talented videographers, Kirby Winsom and Isaac Svobodny, who created a "Shop Local" video that is making the rounds on Facebook and will soon be on the Chamber's website on the blog section. Our online presence is increasingly important with searches on smart phones and computers for places to visit, stay, eat and shop.

If your business has done nothing else, update your google listing. It's free and puts your information on most searches. Most locations already have a listing but the business owner can add details, correct information and pictures. If you need help, contact the chamber office and I'll be happy to come to your business and show you how to do it. If you have a website for your business, a link to the Chamber's website is a great idea. Businesses can also link to area websites like the Scenic Byway and Western Minnesota Prairie Waters.

The "Get Rural" project covers the Minnesota counties west of us and will soon have pages for each town in the area along with links to schools, hospitals, employment, government and more to give new residents a look at the entire area rather than just one town . Riverside Market and Muse takes place monthly on the second Saturday May through September. It has been funded again by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council using legacy funds. The first event is May 13, put it on your calendars! It's free for vendors and includes a free performance every month.

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