By Robyn Snyder, President-Elect, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and owner of Winning Edge Graphics
Growing up in nearby Barrett, Alexandria was always my favorite place to go, whether for shopping, movies, eating out, going to the movies or the races! As an adult I’ve lived in northern Minnesota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Florida. Then there came a time in my life when I had no ties. I could live anywhere I wanted. It was an easy decision, I moved to Alexandria and have never regretted that decision.
Why did I and why do I continue to love this town? First, the people! Alexandria has always felt warm and welcoming. I am still friends with people I met at Viking Speedway as a child. One week at the races, I won a case of Coke from Viking Coca-Cola. Now these days that wouldn’t be as big of a deal. But in my childhood days pop was a real treat, not the norm. I will never forget rationing out those 24 cans.
Shopping! As a child, every third trip to Alexandria, I got to get a toy (and we didn’t go very often so that toy was chosen with real determined consideration!) Even though shopping options change over the years, we have great merchants here, with plenty to offer. And now I can buy a toy whenever I want to! Life is good!
Location! Located right off the interstate, it’s easy for people to come to Alexandria (and hard to leave) but it’s also easy to travel to other locations. An easy couple hours and you’re to the Metro…although I’ll admit the drive home seems longer after a Vikings loss! Education! Our high school and technical and community college offer great opportunities for education. I have hired several graduates and love that there is a great pool of trained job applicants here in our community.
I haven’t even mentioned all there is to do here with the lakes, museums, sporting events, restaurants, breweries and wineries or just the simple beauty of our community. But they told me I was limited to 400 words, so I’ll cut this short! I now own a business where I employ ten people. I love being able to give back and be involved in many of the activities and organizations that make Alexandria great. I am proud to be the president-elect of our Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce! I will continue striving to promote our great community to all, young and old!
Derek Virkus owns Crooked Willow with his wife Jody. Crooked Willow has a classic charm with all the modern amenities. From corporate events to groom's dinners, ceremonies and receptions, its rustic elegance is a great place for a memorable occasion.
By Graham Peterson, Alexandria Area High School senior
To most, the significance of Alexandria, MN will only represented by a dot on a map; to others, a team of Cardinals that somehow manages to clinch a spot at the state hockey tournament seemingly every other year; and to all, a utopia for all things water sports. But for those approximate 13,500 of us lucky enough to live here, Alexandria carries a much more compelling importance. To us, it is a home… the ultimate destination to live, work and play. Much more than just a tourist attraction or marking on a map. The pride surrounding that idea is apparent in everything and everyone in town.
In my case, living in Alexandria my whole life and now beginning my senior year of high school, I never realized the extent of this pride. I’ve always known it was there, and have felt it myself, but its presence became wildly more prevalent with my experience working on the Pride of the Lakes team.
As my affiliation with this ‘Do Business Local Campaign’ grew, I began to see how willing my friends and neighbors were to invest in our community. This tenacity was shown in my time spent presenting to various organizations eager to better our community, the growing number of pledges taken on the Pride of the Lakes website, and the influx of touching testimonies written by residents on what our city means to them.
This display of unconditional care and pride became nothing short of inspiring to me. An influential collection of ideals held by a mass of people intent on forming a better life for themselves, their neighbors, and their children. It is said that the hardest part about inspiring change is taking the first step. In the case of Alexandria, leaps and bounds have already been taken. It’s up to us, the residents of this great community to sustain those strides.
If you want to learn more about what you can do to support Alexandria and Douglas County, visit www.PrideoftheLakes.com or Pride of the Lakes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!
Matthew Wissler, Leah and Scott Corneliussen and Emily Larson are wellness coaches at Inspire Nutrition in Alexandria. Inspire Nutrition serves healthy meal replacement shakes as well as a variety of other items and has options to fit every dietary need and restriction.
By Jess Ptacek, Visitor Center and Office Coordinator, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
The young people in this community are the future of this community. It is important to build relationships with other individuals who are going through similar experiences and to continue to learn and grow in the professional world. The Alexandria Area Young Professionals (AAYP) organization offers opportunities for young people to do just that – build relationships and learn.
AAYP operates under the umbrella of the Alexandria Chamber. It is guided by an eight-person Leadership Team made up of local young professionals. The team includes a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Events Coordinator and a Marketing Coordinator, as well as a Member-at-Large and a Chamber Liaison. This team focuses on the needs of the organization and its members, and plans relevant speakers and programming.
AAYP offers monthly luncheons the first Thursday of each month from 12-1 pm at Grand Arbor. These luncheons include educational topics and speakers or networking opportunities for the members to get to know one-another. The group also offers quarterly socials that include fun activities such as escape rooms, yard games at the local city park, happy hour at a local restaurant, etc. Last summer AAYP adopted a highway that now gets cleaned twice a year.
An annual individual membership is $25 or a business may purchase a membership for $125, which covers memberships for all employees under the age of 40. Lunches may be paid for at the door with cash, check or credit card, or punch cards may be purchased for 6 or 12 lunches. Members receive a monthly e-newsletter around the first of every month that includes information about upcoming events, member news, and announcements.
With more than 90 members, AAYP is a popular organization that continues to grow. It’s a great way for young professionals to meet others, to network, and to learn about and serve their community. To get involved or to learn more, check out the AAYP Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alexandriaareayoungprofessionals/, website: www.ypalex.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.