LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Attendance at the Jan. 28 Lester Prairie Business Association (LPBA) meeting was the highest association President Troy Feltmann can remember in the 13 years since he joined the organization.
He attributes the surge in interest to changes in the Lester Prairie business community, and an interest in revitalizing the organization.
Feltmann noted the owners of some core downtown businesses are planning to retire and their businesses are up for sale.
Feltmann said local businesses will need to work together to educate consumers, encourage people to shop locally, and encourage business growth in the city.
Adam Birkholz, who was hired as Lester Prairie’s community development coordinator last fall, attended the last LPBA meeting.
He shared some of his, and the city council’s vision for the future of Lester Prairie.
Birkholz stated his goal is to create a business-friendly community focussing on:
• business and job retention;
• quality job creation; and
• providing a stable tax base for the community.
“I feel it’s important to have strong participation and interaction with the business association,” Birkholz said after the meeting.
“I will use this organization as a tool to gauge the well-being of the businesses in Lester Prairie, as well as provide them with information and tools to help maintain and expand their businesses.
“A strong and positive business association can be a great tool in helping attract outside businesses.
“I believe this is an exciting time for businesses in Lester Prairie, with opportunities for expansion. There are also opportunities for young entrepreneurs to establish or commence business within the Lester Prairie community.”
Birkholz encourages business owners and potential business owners to go to him with questions and ideas.
He sees his role as economic development coordinator as a catalyst, contact person, analyst, advocate, educator, and visionary.
Since accepting the position of economic development coordinator, Birkholz has been in contact with the Department of Economic Development and other organizations that provide resources for businesses.
Birkholz is working with the city council to establish business subsidy policies for the city.
He is also working on a revolving loan fund that could provide gap financing and small loans to help with economic development projects.
Birkholz will work with the business association to help attract and promote local businesses.
During the Jan. 28 meeting, it was agreed that the business association will meet at noon the third Thursday each month.
Feltmann encourages business owners who would like to host a business association meeting to contact him.
The next meeting will take place at noon, Thursday, Feb. 18 at Lester Prairie City Hall, 37 Juniper St. N.
The guest speaker will be Jennifer Carl from Central Minnesota Jobs and Training. She will present information regarding ways businesses can use social media.
The Lester Prairie Business Association will elect officers during its Thursday, March 18 meeting.
The LPBA will also participate in the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf’s food drive challenge in March.
Cities in McLeod County compete to raise the most food per capita during Food Drive Month.
The LPBA is also looking at options to add signage along Highway 7 to promote local businesses.