Brenda Thomson is the District Executive for the Prairie Fire District for Boys Scouts of America - Northern Lights Council. The Boy Scouts of America has provided a comprehensive youth development program for communities across America since 1910. The Northern Lights Council includes all of North Dakota, 18 counties in Minnesota, and 2 counties each in Montana and South Dakota. Depending on the unit, both boys and girls are welcome to participate.
By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
Christmas in the Fort and the Broadway Lighting Ceremony have been the traditional way to kick off the holiday season in our community for decades.
Thousands attend the event that includes visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday treats, live reindeer, choral entertainment, a Parade of Trees, and simple gathering of friends.
This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, November 25 from 3 to 6 pm. At 5:15 pm, a lighting ceremony will be held to turn on the Christmas lights down Broadway.
Alexandria is a lovely, historic community that seems like the perfect setting for a “Hallmark-style” Christmas. That’s why a small group of volunteers who call themselves the Friends of Christmas came together to talk about creating some additional holiday traditions for the community.
New this year is the Lights on Broadway holiday light parade that will be held from 4th to 8th Avenue on Broadway Street at 6 pm immediately following the Christmas in the Fort event. Anyone can enter a float – businesses, organizations, families, neighborhoods, individuals. There is no entry free, and prizes will be awarded for Most Christmas Spirit and Brightest Lights. Simply send an email with your intent to have an entry to email@example.com.
Also new this year is a skating rink at Big Ole Park along 2nd Avenue. This rink will be open to all for use at no charge. Organizers are currently working on gathering donations of used skates to be stored on site for people who may not have skates. Donations can be dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce, 206 Broadway, from 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday.
The Friends of Christmas hope to add additional events in 2023, including a Saturday Christmas Market at Big Ole Park and a walk-through Christmas light display.
If you are interested in helping with these efforts through volunteerism or financial support, please contact me (Tara Bitzan) at the Chamber of Commerce, 320-763-3161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) is a private non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation established in 1990 to lead economic development in the region by engaging leaders to grow business and expand the talent base. Its mission is to 'promote prosperity and optimize opportunity in the Alexandria region'. It does this with support from the Lakes Area Economic Development Authority (LAEDA).
Christina Metcalf, Writer/Ghostwriter
COVID and labor shortages have caused a lot of businesses to reevaluate offerings and pivot how they did business. But if you’re like many business owners, while adapting to customer needs was a critical component to staying in business, you may now realize that you are off track.
It’s important to provide value to customers but veering too far away from your true business can cause you to take on too much too soon. For a pre-COVID example, when restaurant Planet Hollywood experienced great success initially, they spread themselves too thin ultimately forcing a lot of location closures. If you made a change to your business during the pandemic to meet customer needs, it might be time to reevaluate what was done and see if it is still in keeping with your business mission and vision.
Ways Businesses Change and What They Mean Today
There are many reasons to change your business. Some changes may provide long-term solutions others are short term panaceas. But if you did any of the following over the past three years, it may be time to reevaluate whether these changes are still serving you and your customers.
During the pandemic and subsequent inflationary times, many of us implemented things that are outside our usual offerings because it was a way to stay in our customers’ lives and entice them to continue opening their wallets for us. It’s probably time to reevaluate those new offerings. Were they a good addition to what your business did before? Are they making you money? Are they providing a needed solution for your customers? Have they caused your employees or customers to become more loyal? Do you still enjoy the work you are doing? All these things are good indicators of whether those changes were just a needed bandage to get you through tough times or something you should keep going and grow.
Did you limit your business in any way to survive the pandemic? For instance, many restaurants created shorter menus or rearranged their seating areas. Do the limits you’ve placed on your business still serve you? Maybe you’ve found that by limiting choices, you’ve perfected the upsell. Maybe your roomier interior design has encouraged people to spend more time browsing and thus increased sales or maybe the opposite has happened. Maybe you’ve decided you need more tables again and it’s time to bring them back. Revisit the limits you implemented for survival and see how they suit you now. Are they contributing to growth or limiting it?
Services and Products
Many product selling businesses looked for ways to sell services and many service based companies started selling a line of products during the pandemic. How are those new areas serving you? Did they open a new market or are they languishing? Are you marketing those things with growth in mind or were they just to get you through the tough times?
Working from Home
Many businesses allowed employees to work from home and now they’re finding difficulties in convincing people to return to the office or hiring new people who want to work outside of the home. It might be time to reevaluate your office space needs. You may find it’s cheaper to operate out of your home and use your local chamber or business incubator for meetings (if they have space).Nearly three years since the pandemic began and with an inflationary period on our door steps, it’s likely a goodtime to reexamine the changes you implemented for your business. Are those changes still serving you or is it time to sunset them?
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal
customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?