May 1st, 2018 – Our annual Mayor-to-Mayor event was held, 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.
Although the M2M 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.
On May 23, 2017, the FFDRC worked with the Mayor’s office to coordinate the first of a multi-series of Mayor-to-Mayor events. The purpose of these events is and was to draw attention locally to the Downtown and Riverfront as well as to expose the community to successful revitalization efforts in other municipalities. The May 23rd event brought St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman to Fergus Falls where both Mayor Schierer and Mayor Coleman spoke to an audience of about 75 people. The theme of the speech was the importance of the Riverfront to the City revitalization. Pontoon boat tours of the river from Hannah Park past the Dairy Property to Tower Bridge and back, walking tours of the river walk featuring historic points of interest, and free foot long hot dogs and beverages were part of the event, as well.