By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
It’s awesome that Alexandria was named the 2019 Best Minnesota Town by Minnesota Monthly magazine. Of course there are the skeptics (I’ll admit sometimes I am one) who will try to rationalize why this isn’t a big deal.
Of course there is probably truth to all of the above. But the way I see it, it’s simply just another reason to celebrate our great community. Let’s celebrate the fact that the win comes with a multi-page editorial feature in the March/April 2020 issue of Minnesota Monthly and a media campaign valued at more than $50,000! That’s an incredible boost for our community, which relies heavily on tourism and desperately needs to attract more workforce.
Let’s celebrate the fact that it puts our community in the spotlight for a while and gives us bragging rights for an entire year! Let’s celebrate the fact that many people believe we really are the best town in Minnesota and don’t need a contest to provide the title.
Reed Fischer, senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, described Alexandria as “a beautiful year-round destination with a rich history and a bright future.” Let’s celebrate the fact that Alexandria most definitely IS that, and let’s bask in the spotlight for as long as we can.
Mary Becker is an Independent Sales Representative for Avon and has been working for this company since 2009. Avon has products for all men, women and children of every age including skin care, makeup, clothing, bath and body, wellness and more.
By Katie DeGier, Visitor and Member Relations Specialist, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
I recently joined the team at the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce as the Visitor and Member Relations Specialist. I am your first point of contact for the Chamber, answering phones, greeting guests, and organizing and stocking the Visitor Center with Chamber member information. I also work with new residents of the area and send out relocation packets and connect with our members periodically to ensure they are utilizing all of their membership benefits. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful community we live in!
Over the course of the last 3 ½ years I have worked with the Douglas County Safe Communities Coalition to help spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. I have had the opportunity to speak at two Towards Zero Death (TZD) conferences, two area high schools during their mock crashes and the parent and teen distracted driving event held at Casey’s Amusement Park in the spring. Spreading awareness about the dangers of distracted driving in our community and beyond is very important to me and I hope to continue on that journey. This last summer I was a mentor for BIO girls in Alexandria, which is an organization that helps build confidence and life skills in young girls while also teaching them about health and wellness.
My husband, Travis and I both grew up in the Alexandria area. We live in Nelson with our four kids, Alexa, Easton, Blake and Silvie, and they all bring their own unique personality to our family. They occupy most of our free time being involved in dance, hockey and baseball. We also enjoy being home riding four-wheelers, in the pool or relaxing on the couch watching our favorite shows!
I am excited to get to know each of our members better in the coming days and months. I look forward to serving you, along with the rest of the Chamber team!
Bonnie Bina is the Manager at Profile by Sanford in Alexandria. Profile by Sanford creates personalized nutrition, activity and lifestyle coaching programs designed to help members lose weight and keep it off. The coaches at Profile by Sanford are certified and motivate members through every stage of their weight loss journey. Best of all, the personalized weight loss programs are designed to instill internalized habits that will allow the member to maintain the results for years to come.
By Andrea Dwyer, Member Relations Coordinator, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
Let’s take a look at a tourists’ motives and needs. If a person is going to spend some time in a city they are not familiar with, there are a few things this person needs. First, we have physiological needs, this would include places to eat and drink. Next is safety and security, which would include shelter or someplace to call “home ground”. Third would be social needs, such as events, activities, gatherings, or the social life of the town. As a tourist in an unknown city or a local looking to find services in their town, having a hub of information like the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center is very important. Studies have shown that visitor centers make an important contribution to the economic, social and recreational well-being of communities. This is done by encouraging tourists and locals to experience local events, attractions, and recreation options. This also financially supports the community’s retail, housing, accommodations and eating venues.
As a member of the Alexandria Chamber we have incorporated our visitor center into a complementary benefit of Chamber membership, each member receives one spot in the visitor center. As we work to promote our Chamber members, we see the value of having something tangible to hand out. First, we ensure that our members’ materials are being seen, by offering a clean, organized, and clearly labeled visitor center. Then, when someone comes in looking for a specific type of business, we know exactly where to look and are able to hand out marketing pieces for our Chamber members. When we start to run low on materials, we reach out to our members to request more.
The Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce sees around 15,000 walk-ins each year. As a staff of four, we go to training each year to learn about the similarities and differences between other Minnesota Chambers. Through these trainings, we have learned that we are one of the few Chambers in Minnesota to still have a visitor center alive and active in the same building. The purpose of keeping our visitor center alive and active is to provide information to tourists planning trips to Alexandria and to area residents in need of local services. By making sure we have all of our members’ marketing items visible in our visitor center, we have the resources to provide the proper needs that fit the physiological needs, safety and security needs and social needs, not only our tourists, but to our community residents as well.
If you are a member with the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, contact us today to ensure we have your items in the visitor center!