Chamber Blog

Ruth Ann Hanson, Chamber Area Director
Ruth Ann Hanson
Lisa Paxton, Chamber CEO
Lisa Paxton
Kathi Nagorski
Kathi Nagorski
Shannon Janco
Shannon Janco

Baxter Transportation Concepts Aired

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Baxter and Mn/DOT officials shared updates on Elder Drive and information about transportation concepts being evaluated by the City of Baxter to about 40 chamber member business representatives at a meeting hosted by the Chamber’s Brainerd/Baxter Business Council.

Congratulations to Baxter for exploring these concepts in anticipation of transportation needs for its growing commercial and residential areas. The Chamber continues to support the development of a regional transportation plan to establish priorities for future highway, street, transit, and train expansion and preservation projects. Congressman Oberstar has included funds for this regional plan in the proposed Federal Transportation Reauthorization Bill, and we are hopeful of its approval, but this may be delayed up to 18 months due to other priorities from the White House. Funding for local transportation projects continues to be a challenge, as all projects require a local match – either all or in part.

· Anderson Bros. Construction is nearing the completion of a ¾ intersection for Elder Drive. The road should be open by October 31.
· The Elder Drive project prompted the city and Mn/DOT to investigate extending Elder Drive to Excelsior Road. They are gathering preliminary cost estimates, traffic details, and sewer and water expansion. While Mn/DOT has allocated some funds for the project, the city will need to contribute some funds if they decide to proceed.
· Because Inglewood serves as a through street to Woida, County Road 77 and the Excelsior business districts, moving the traffic signal from Knollwood to Inglewood may be beneficial. Challenges include a trail connection and railroad crossing. This could offer an opportunity to extend city water/sewer into the residential area on the north edge of Perch Lake.
· The city is exploring grants to extend trails along Fairview as part of the “Safe Routes to School” program.
· Potlatch has requested an upgraded access to Highway 210 and railroad crossing on the west side of Baxter (where Stock Lumber was located).
· County Road 48 and 371 traffic continues to increase and has been the site of several accidents. The city has talked with Congressman Oberstar’s office about funds to build an overpass that includes a trail but a lot of planning needs to occur and no preliminary design is done. If this project occurred, there is consideration for realigning County Road 48 south and west along Mapleton to connect to the Camp Jim Road in Sylvan Township, Cass County. The current portion of County Road 48 from Mapleton north would become a city street.
· While it hasn’t been discussed for five years, at one time there was interest in moving the County Road 48 intersection at 210 to Memorywood to address safety and stacking concerns at this intersection. Currently not even in the “concept” phase.
· The issue that generated the most discussion was the extension of Cypress Drive. The city has approved a roundabout for the intersection of Cypress and Excelsior. There were many comments about the congestion at Golf Course and Excelsior, widening of Excelsior, and extending Cypress to 49 to the north and College Drive to the south. The current plan includes creating a ¾ intersection at Golf Course and 210 and moving the traffic signal at Golf Course to the new Cypress and 210 intersection.
· Because of the planned Baxter Medical Clinic expansion on Isle Drive there are options to extend Isle Drive in a cul de sac to the clinic or continuing all the way south to County Road 48. All improvements would be assessed to adjacent property owners if current policies were followed.
· Improvements to Novotny Road (near Edina Realty and Brainerd General Rental) are being driven by potential developer interest and include infrastructure expansion and road straightening.

Special thanks to Nate Grotzke, Chair of the Business Council, for moderating this meeting.


2009 Voters Guide

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This year the Chamber's Voter's Guide focuses on the only local race - the ISD 181 School Board. Thanks to all the candidats who submitted responses to our three questions on topics regarding their priorities to the future workforce. Take a few minutes to read the 2009 Voters Guide.

Be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 3. Visit for information on polling places.

Miranda Anderson
Event & Communications Director, Brainerd Lakes Chamber



Chamber Shares Bridges Info with Governor's Council

Friday, October 16, 2009

Twyla Flaws, HR Director at Clow Stamping, serves on Governor Pawlenty’s workforce development council and we're fortunate to have such a positive and talented representative from our area representing business! She invited us to present information about the Bridges Workplace Connection and Career Academies – programs coordinated by the Chamber and Central Lakes College in partnership with 22 area school districts (see

Steve Razidlo, Superintendent of Brainerd Schools, and I, planned for a 30 minute presentation at Best Buy’s headquarters in Bloomington - but we presented for over an hour - with participants asking numerous questions about each slide and afterward sharing business cards for more information. The power point is attached.

The GWDC's mission is to analyze and recommend workforce development policies to the Governor and Legislature toward talent development, resource alignment and system effectiveness to ensure a globally competitive workforce for Minnesota.


Healthy Communities Partnership Update - Brainerd 10/15/2009

Lisa Paxton and I attended the Healthy Communities Partnership (HCP) informational meeting last night at the Brainerd Fire Station. Dan Frank from the Initiative Foundation and Mark Ostgarden, Brainerd City Planner, led the presentation and discussion.

The HCP program helps communities determine their assets, challenges, and goals and then, trains citizens to mobilize local resources and achieve results over 18 months. Selected communities receive an initial grant of $10,000 as well as technical assistance...>learn more

Nearby past HCP participants include Baxter; Crosslake; Nisswa; Pequot Lakes, Breezy Point, Jenkins & Sibley Township; Staples; Wadena.

The Brainerd City Council had approved submitting an application 6-1 at their September 21 meeting. Four communities are selected each year. The pre-application meeting is November 10 at the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls with the application due December 15. Selection of communities to the program occurs in January.

Emily Northey, Chamber Main Street Coordinator,

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Smart business owners seek information

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Recently the Brainerd Lakes Chamber hosted a nationally recognized economist who told us he and other experts feel the U.S. is slowing coming out of the most recent recession. Smart business owners seek information like this from a variety or sources so they can react in a timely manner to trends within their trade area and within their industry. Identifying trusted sources of information is an important part of managing your business. Those sources can include traditional news outlets but should also include participation in Chamber type events, monitoring industry publications and blogs, and talking with you customers and suppliers. Keeping aware of you business environment will help you effectively manage your business resources. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is part of the Business and Industry (B&I) Center at Central Lakes College. For more information on the SBDC program visit or call us at (218) 855-8140.
Greg Bergman
Regional Director, Small Business Development Center



One-stop shop for business assistance

If you’re a typical business owner, running your business is a full-time job – plus. You almost always lack time to track down all the questions that surface on a regular basis. Businesses now have a resource – and it’s free. BusinessConnection is a single entry point to become connected with private and public resources to solve everyday business problems. It is operated by Grow Minnesota!, the subsidiary of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Grow Minnesota! is focused on job retention and creation. The service is available to all businesses and can be reached toll-free by calling 1-888-MINN-BIZ (646-6249), with live operators standing by. On the Web, go to

Businesses face enough obstacles in today’s economy without being frustrated in their attempts to find answers to simple questions or to navigate the regulatory landscape. BusinessConnection is our way of guiding you to quick, complete and accurate answers. We can provide information ranging from how to start, expand or sell businesses to securing permits and patents to providing direction on human resources and marketing issues. We worked closely with DEED, as well as other public and private economic development organizations, to shape the service.

Jim Pumarlo
Director of Communications
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce



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