The first of August is here as I'm writing this! Why is it always so amazing how fast the summer days fly by? Maybe a throwback from school vacation and counting the days of freedom left before school starts? Minnesota West starts it's school year in August, earlier than the high school. Every year they have an event open to any business or organization that would like to introduce themselves to the students attending there. This year it takes place on August 23 from 11a.m. to 12 p.m. A table is provided, you just have to register and bring your promotional materials, door prizes and coupons.

Another great way to connect with Minnesota West students is to offer a discount when they visit your place of business. The Chamber office has posters you can put in the window and students get the offer of your choice when presenting their student ID card. To register your business for "Getting Connected" contact Mary Enestvedt at Minnesota West, mary.enestvedt@ mnwest.edu or 320-564-5010.

Granite Falls is fortunate to have a branch of Minnesota West located here, let's help them have a successful event and encourage students to participate in the community. Increasing enrollment is another goal, if you know a young person looking for a career path, encourage them to check out the opportunities right next door; it's also a great way to start a four-year college degree.

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Our free bikes experiment has taken another turn with the bicycles, rack and repair station moved to the front of the Falls Boutique. You can now register to use the bicycles inside the shop which is open until 7 p.m. in the evening. I'd love to see this program expanded with more bikes available in different locations. It's a great idea but it also takes public cooperation and a sense of shared responsibility for it to work. Bike trails and biking are a great way to bring family fun and visitors to our area. It’s been a proven success story in other parts of the state where they have longer trails and bike rentals.

Together with the river recreation and potential whitewater park, this is an untapped economic driver. From my meetings with the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association, I know many tourism professionals whose towns benefit greatly from biking. Jan Lasar, publisher of Minnesota Trails, gives away ads as door prizes in the SMTA meetings and one of those for Granite Falls is appearing in the magazine's next issue.

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