By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
The deadline is quickly approaching for a new grant opportunity for Douglas County businesses and nonprofit organizations.
In June, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz used his executive powers to distribute $841.5 million of CARES Act funds to counties, cities, and townships throughout the state.
Douglas County has used some of their funds to create a CARES Pandemic Relief Grant to assist local businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.
Eligible applicants may request a CPR Grant based upon need due to COVID-19. Actual grant award will be based on number of employees, gross revenue loss due to COVID-19, and impact on the business.
A business is eligible even if they have received other funding, however, CPR requested funds must not be used for expenses already covered by other grant programs. They must be used for separate and unique purposes.
This is a grant and will not need to be paid back. For more information or to apply, visit https://livingalexarea.org/business-grant/.
Todd Elmer is owner of Casey's Amusement Park in Alexandria. Casey's Amusement Park offers 4 different go kart tracks, 36 holes of mini golf and a bumper boat pond. The park is open 7 days a week May through September.
Benefits of a visitor center
By Katie DeGier, Visitor & Member Relations Specialist, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
The Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce has a Visitor Center located right inside its office. In 2019 the staff made 10,692 contacts, which included walk-in guests, phone calls and phone referrals.
Each Chamber member receives a spot in the Visitor Center to display marketing materials. Those materials help promote businesses in our area when visitors or locals come into the Visitor Center. They may be looking for activities to keep the family busy, places to enjoy a great breakfast, a unique lunch spot or a date night dinner location, or just recommendations on various services members offer. The Chamber then provides a list of all members that offer the service someone may be looking for. We feel there is greater impact in a referral when there is something tangible to hand someone.
Local lodging facilities also utilize the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center to gather materials to have available for visitors staying at their establishments. The Visitor Center also acts as a hub for lodging openings in the area. Facilities communicate throughout the year to provide us with a list of their openings. Visitors then contact us when they are looking for lodging openings and we refer the local lodging facilities that fit the dates and needs they are looking for.
The Visitor Center also offers a variety of maps including, local Alexandria and Douglas County maps, state highway and biking maps provided by Explore Minnesota Tourism, snowmobile maps from the Douglas Area Trails Association, local walking maps provided by Horizon Public Health and more. Area Visitor Guides are provided by other Chambers of Commerce and Visitor Centers and are available in the Alexandria Visitor Center. This includes many Minnesota communities from Alexandria to just over state lines.
As a Visitor Center, the Chamber of Commerce also acts as an information hub. Inquiries received include a variety of things, from simple phone calls asking for a phone number to a local business to where someone can drop off donations. We pride ourselves on great customer service so if we do not know the answer, we will do our best to find it.
We encourage all locals, visitors, and potential new residents of Alexandria to stop in or call with any questions they have about the area or resources they are looking for. We are here to help!