By Jess Ptacek, Visitor Center & Office Coordinator, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission has launched a brand new business competition called Pitch Your Plan. The Pitch Your Plan competition is open to current or prospective entrepreneurs who present a for-profit business idea. Each competitor will pitch their ideas for the chance at a community prize package to grow or start their business.
There will be 3 phases. The first phase will include filling out an online application with six simple questions. The steering committee will then choose up to ten applicants who will advance to phase 2. Phase 2 will consist of building the business plan along-side a business consultant. A panel of judges will select up to three to advance to phase 3 and those three will deliver a shark-tank style presentation to the judges. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at a luncheon held at the BoatHouse at the Legacy of the Lakes Museum.
Eligible business concepts are strictly limited to a business start-up, a second or third location of an existing business elsewhere, a significant expansion of a current business with a new concept, product or service line, or a relocation of an existing business that is currently outside of Douglas County. Eligible business concepts must locate to within Douglas County.
To learn more visit www.livingalexarea.org/pitchyourplan or follow us on Instagram at pitchyourplanmn.
By Lauren Johnson, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
My name is Lauren Johnson and I just started with the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. I am their new Marketing & Communications Coordinator. In this position, my main responsibility is to plan, analyze, and create print, electronic, and social media promotions. I am so excited to have joined the chamber for a couple reasons: the first being I get to be more involved with our community and get to know people and their businesses more and the second being that I am looking forward to having a work/life balance. I am a new mom and having that flexibility with my family is very important to me.
My husband, Scott, and I both grew up near Garfield with a 40 acre field separating our homes. But it wasn’t until after I graduated high school that we connected through a sport we both love, bowling. In September of 2017 we got married! A few years prior Scott bought a small lake house on about 3 acres out by Holmes City and we have been busy building and renovating ever since. I have quickly learned that the projects are never ending, but it is so fun to see where it started and how far it has come.
At home we have a 4 year old yellow lab, Grizzly; and inside we have a 5 year old cat named Ash and a 10 month puppy named Charlie. She is sure to always be keeping us on our toes.
As if we weren’t busy enough – the end of August we welcomed our son, Wesley, and he is the light of mine and my husband’s life. He loves to talk and tell stories and is quick to let you know if he doesn’t like something. We are so blessed that he has so many cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-aunts & uncles in the Alexandria area alone, plus the surrounding areas for him to grow up with.
In our free time, we enjoy being outdoors hunting, fishing, riding four-wheeling; whatever it may be, as long as it’s outdoors. We are so blessed to have this life and are very excited to see what the future has to offer!
A.J. Kluver is the Pastor at Living Word Lutheran Church. The church is a Lutheran congregation in mission for Christ located at 1722 16th Ave East in Alexandria. They are small enough to where they have a family atmosphere and everyone knows each other, yet large enough to be effective in their mission.
My name is Tara Bitzan. I am a lifelong resident of Douglas County, and can’t imagine living anywhere else! I grew up on a farm in Moe Township and graduated from Brandon High School. I earned degrees in Mass Communications and English with a focus on print journalism and a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University.
I was thrilled to find a journalism position “back home,” and spent the next 25 years working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria. I met a lot of incredible people and had some amazing experiences while working as an intern, staff reporter, Life editor, Special Projects editor and finally editor at the twice weekly community newspaper.
In June 2016, I moved a few blocks down the road to begin working as director of the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. I loved my previous career as a community journalist, and I love my new career at the Chamber. I truly believe the reason for both is because of what a great community the Alexandria Lakes Area is! I consider myself blessed every day to be able to live and work here, where I believe we have the best of everything – shopping, health care, education, recreation and natural beauty.
My husband, Dennis, is also a Douglas County native, and is the co-owner of Bitzan-Ohren Masonry. Our blended family includes five children and five grandchildren. I love spending time with family, reading, gardening, relaxing at the lake, and going to work because I love my job! Not only do I love the work we do at the Chamber supporting our local business community, but I also love the people I work with. They are talented, innovative, hard-working, high-energy, fun, and truly care about what they do. I am blessed!
Bryce's Beans is owned and operated by Bryce Swenson. The business started with a cast iron skillet and a passion for good coffee. All of the custom offerings are sold fresh and roasted to order. Bryce has seen increased exposure through Chamber membership and loves being a part of this community! Watch the video above to learn more!