Upcoming Mayor-to-Mayor (M2M) Event
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About the FFDRC
President Steve Eriksson was interviewed about the FFDRC, in December. The interview can be viewed below. Thank you to the Mohagen Minute for featuring us!
April 6, 2018
Sorry for the late edition of my report to you regarding FFDRC news. The last edition was from February 4th and much has happened since then and the rumor mill referred to in that letter seems to have died down. I would like to thank all of you for your continued support of our organization through renewals of your membership and the volunteer help provided; I would also like to welcome the new members that have joined us recently. Welcome and thanks to all of you.
During 2017 we had three Open Board meetings that we also referred to as Mayor to Mayor events and we will be continuing that format with our first Open Board meeting and Mayor to Mayor event in 2018. It will be held on Tuesday May 1st from 4:00 to 6:00 at Bello Cucina – 106 West Lincoln Avenue in Downtown Fergus Falls. The Mayor to Mayor portion will start promptly at 4:00 followed by the Board of Directors meeting. All are welcome to attend whether you are an FFDRC member or not.
This is a very special meeting in that Rita Albrecht, the Mayor of Bemidji, and Dave Hengel, the Executive Director of Greater Bemidji, will interact with Fergus Mayor Ben Schierer to discuss the re-vitalization of Bemidji. We have heard the strategies used by larger communities such as St Paul and Fargo to redevelop the downtowns, but Bemidji is a rural community of similar size and demographics to Fergus that was able to create a re-vitalization strategy and then succeed with its goal of re-establishing a vibrant downtown while becoming an “emerging regional center”. I believe it is important for as many people in the Fergus community as possible to hear this message. My hope is that we can pull together towards fulfillment of our mission, which is to make the community we live in better by creating a vibrant and prosperous downtown and riverfront area, enhancing the stability and growth of the City. Seating is limited so please make a reservation by contacting NeTia at email@example.com. As noted above, Bello Cucina restaurant will be the venue and it will feature a light sampling of its food; water and coffee will be provided. A cover charge of $12 will be collected at the door to pay for the costs of the event, including the room, food, water and coffee. Alcoholic and other beverages are available from Bello Cucina on a cash basis.
Updates for FFDRC Projects
Project Downtown Renaissance – The idea for project Downtown Renaissance was presented to the City Council on January 16th as I mentioned in my last letter. Since then, I and other Board Members, have spoken with many Downtown business and property owners for feedback on the state of the downtown. Although street parking issues were noted by many, a primary problem is a lack of people downtown shopping, eating or seeking entertainment, especially after working hours. Tenant mix and vacant storefronts contribute to the problem and so the FFDRC has decided to start a marketing program aimed primarily at the restaurants to bring more people downtown. H2M, an advertising/marketing company, with an office in downtown Fergus, is working with FFDRC to create the marketing strategy that will be employed during the months of June, July and August. A combination of pro-bono work, volunteer help, a grant from the Blandin Foundation and some FFDRC funds will be used to cover the costs of and implement the marketing efforts. I will provide more details when they are fully developed.
A second Project Downtown Renaissance element that is starting to take shape also is directed at the restaurants but is not limited to those located Downtown. This pilot program is part of a larger strategy to create a Downtown Training and Education Center as an additional draw to bring more people to the Downtown and Riverfront area. The pilot program involves the FFDRC working with M State to bring focused education/training to the restaurant businesses. The concept is to have M State assess the business or industry skills needs through an open dialogue with the restaurant operators and then create the educational programs or training necessary to fulfill the needs assessment. We are very fortunate for M State’s willingness to work with us on this pilot project. Once the needs assessment and course/training recommendations have been made, the FFDRC, with the help of M State, will explore funding alternatives to pay for the education/training.
Events with participation or sponsorship by FFDRC
These and other events are designed to get more people to come downtown for shopping, eating and entertainment. Please support our local businesses and take advantage of and participate in the community events sponsored, planned and effected by numerous volunteers. Spread the word.
Mayor to Mayor May 1st – Sponsored by the FFDRC – See previous details
Summerfest – June 8th & 9th – FFDRC to have booth – Parade to extend through Lincoln Avenue – Downtown. For additional information or to volunteer please check https://fergusfallssummerfest.com
Shop Move’n Groove – July 12th – 11:00 to 7:00 – FFDRC part of planning committee – sponsored by the Chamber – live music, food, shopping – for more information contact NeTia at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will put you in touch with the appropriate person
North Country Trail event – OCT 6th – Celebrate the 50th anniversary of North Country Trail – FFDRC to have booth; planning by NCT is in process. Check https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/minnesota/fergus-falls-trail-town/
Holiday Tree / Art Crawl – December 1st – FFDRC is a sponsor and is on the planning committee; the event is being planned now. Our hope is to get 5,000 people downtown for all day/evening event – Art Crawl, shopping, live entertainment, horse carriage rides, photos with Santa, caroling with seasonal music, holiday tree lighting, free hot apple cider or hot chocolate, “fireworks”? If you would like to help plan this or any event, please contact NeTia at email@example.com.
Please make every effort to attend the May 1st Mayor to Mayor event to find out how other rural communities have succeeded with re-vitalization of the downtown areas. If you have a comment, a concern or an idea of what we can do better please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 952-513-0158.
Take care and stay warm, the snow will be gone soon.
Steven L. Eriksson, President