I'm writing this from Mankato while attending the Explore Minnesota Conference. Southern Minnesota is excited to host this yearly conference which brings tourism professionals from all over the state of Minnesota together to learn about the newest marketing and tourism information. I'll have more details about all the new marketing concepts and ideas next week that will benefit Granite Falls businesses. The public art on the streets in downtown Mankato reminds me of what an asset an art and sculpture walk is to the businesses that are located nearby.

Even in the middle of a snowstorm, I noticed people stopping to admire the sculpture pieces scattered around downtown. I'm excited to continue the work on our own Riverside Voices art project along the flood wall and would love to see the art migrate to the plazas and sidewalks along Prentice St. Privately owned businesses are also welcome to add their own art on their exteriors such as the murals on the K.K. Berge building and Erickson Dental. Ideas are endless and could be something as simple as a short poem. The next public art workshop will be held this coming Sunday afternoon at the K.K. Berge building at 1 p.m. with a follow up session on March 24. Hosted by Melanie Gatchell, it’s free and open to the public. Although this is a writing workshop, bring your ideas for the entire flood wall to share with the group. We encourage everyone to participate in this public art project, no experience necessary!

I'm also working on a Minnesota Historical Society grant that would include historic photography as public art. If the grant is approved, this would happen next year as part of the celebration of the 100 years of Prohibition. We'll hear more about the benefits of public art at the first Business Breakfast next Tuesday.

Thanks to everyone who registered for the first of the Chamber's monthly events which will be regularly scheduled on the second Tuesday of each month. If you have ideas for speaker topics, I'd love to hear from you. 

The Southern Minnesota Tourism Association is a part of the larger Explore Minnesota Tourism which is a state agency. Both Chippewa and Yellow Medicine counties contribute to the marketing funds, based on population. The meetings are held every two months in various southern Minnesota towns hosted by the local Chamber and CVB. The September meeting will be held in Granite Falls at Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort. Anyone interested in marketing and tourism is welcome to attend the Thursday morning meeting on September 20. City and county officials often attend when the meeting is held in their city. Mark your calendars for a chance to benefit from Explore Minnesota's marketing expertise.  

Also on this coming Sunday, March 11 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., stop in to the Bluenose Gopher Public House building at 681 Prentice for a building tour and hear about the great news that construction is now starting. If you're thinking of becoming a member of this co-op, now is the time as the price will go up once it's open. For only $150.21, you can be a lifetime member/owner!