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!
May 31, 2018
It is hard for me to believe how quickly this year has gone so far, when I last wrote to you with an update of our activities the ice was still on Jewett Lake, now the ice is melted and the temperature has been in the upper 80’s. The last edition was dated April 6th and the FFDRC was preparing for the May 1st Mayor to Mayor event, highlighting Rita Albrecht, the Mayor of Bemidji, and Tiffany Fettig sitting in for Dave Hengel of Greater Bemidji. Greater Bemidji is the highly successful 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that provides the Economic Development work for Bemidji. The event was held at Bello Cucina with more than 70 people attending; I think all that attended will agree that the presentation was very interesting and informative. Mayor Albrecht compared Bemidji to Fergus in a variety of areas to set the background and then she and Tiffany provided a slideshow of how Greater Bemidji works and its successes. Because the program was so well received we decided to continue with a panel discussion followed by questions so that the FFDRC Board meeting scheduled to follow was condensed into a few minutes to deal with some pressing FFRDC business.
Although the Mayor to Mayor event was probably not the catalyst, at the following City Council meeting, City Manager Andrew Bremseth requested action from the City Council to begin looking into changing the Fergus Falls economic development model to something closer to the Bemidji model. The City Council voted unanimously to support that recommendation. It may take some time to develop the concept because we need to hear all the appropriate voices and to get it right. I expect that over the next few months there will be more discussions to see how an effective model can be designed to work here in Fergus. As noted by Mayor Albrecht, not everything is perfect in Bemidji as to how a non-profit economic development agency and the City function together.
At the FFDRC Board meeting:
Scott deMartelaere resigned as a board member and officer due to work conflicts; Scott was one of the original Board members contributing significantly to the organization and the community. Scott, thank you for your service and thanks for continuing to be a member of the FFDRC. Sue Wilken was recommended by the Executive Committee to fill the role as Vice-President previously held by Scott deMartelaere. The Board unanimously approved Sue to be Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee. Richard Smestad was recommended by the Executive Committee to be a member of the Board
of Directors filling the spot previously held by Scott deMartelaere. The Board also unanimously approved Richard to be a member of the Board of Directors.
Updates for FFDRC Projects
The Dairy Site –
The Purchase agreement due diligence was extended to July 31st as we continue to figure out several issues, including the cost to create a “clean site”, timing and how to fund an acquisition should the decision be made to move to that step. A complication arose regarding the formerly approved LCCMR grant funding that caused it to not be eligible should we proceed as planned. Fortunately, subject to presentation to the LCCMR Commission on June 5th, the funds were reinstated as part of the State Bonding bill that was just signed by Governor Dayton. The LCCMR grant will provide $600,000 to the City for the acquisition of the land to be used for riverfront buffer, public access and walking and biking trails that will connect to the other planned and existing trails in the City. The City is in the process of applying for additional funding to pay for
the trail planned for the buffer area. I will keep you informed as new information is available.
Project Downtown Renaissance –
As previously announced, the FFDRC will be starting a marketing program focusing on the downtown restaurants with a goal to bring more people downtown helping both the restaurants and the retail businesses. H2M, an advertising/marketing company, and an FFDRC Sustainer Member, 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, corporate donations from Nelson Auto Center and H2M, a grant from the Blandin Foundation and some FFDRC funds will be used to cover the costs of and to implement the marketing efforts. Full details will be published on
the FFDRC web page shortly, but the general concept is to randomly distribute $10 and $25 coupons that can be redeemed when purchasing food/beverages from our Downtown
Restaurants between 1:00 P.M. and closing time for individual restaurants on Thursdays from June 7th to August 30th. Posters will be placed throughout the Downtown area and beyond.
The second Project Downtown Renaissance element that is directed at the restaurants, but is not exclusive to those located Downtown, is an education pilot program that involves the FFDRC working with M State to bring focused education/training to the restaurant businesses. The initial phase is to have M State assess the business or industry skills needs through an open dialogue with the restaurant operators. The needs assessment will take place on June 11th with focused training based on the needs assessment to be scheduled at an appropriate date. Thank you to M State’s Carrie Brimhall, Matt Borcherding, Amy Hochgraber and others for being so generous with your time and willingness to help. If the pilot program is successful, we hope to expand it to other businesses, including existing and startup businesses willing to locate in Fergus Falls.
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.
Summerfest – June 8th & 9th – Parade will revert to Lincoln Avenue and will pass through
Downtown. For additional information or to volunteer please check https://fergusfallssummerfest.com
Shop Move’n Groove – July 12th – 11:00 to 7:00 – 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
Holiday Tree / Art Crawl – December 1st – FFDRC is a sponsor and coordinates the planning committee; the event is being planned now. Our hope is to get 5,000 people downtown for the full 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”- you betcha. If you would like to help plan this or any event, please contact NeTia at email@example.com.
The next Board Meeting is June 4th – 4:00 P.M. at Cooper’s – please let NeTia know if you would like to attend. There is no Board Meeting in July.
If you have a comment, a concern or an idea of what we can do or do better please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 952-513-0158.
Steven L. Eriksson, President